[ Title Edited] Textual, Conceptual and Imagistic Windows into the Prolific Multidisciplinarity of Writer and Scholar Toyin Falola

Skip to first unread message

Oluwatoyin Adepoju

Mar 2, 2023, 1:43:13 PM3/2/23
to usaafricadialogue, Yoruba Affairs, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju


                     Textual, Conceptual  and Imagistic Windows into the Prolific Multidisciplinarity 

                                                                       of Writer and Scholar

                                                                             Toyin Falola

                                                                     Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju


                                                       Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems

                                                Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge

Every piece of writing, particularly one of some length, is a world of its own, a diamond connecting directly and indirectly to other jewels within the matrix of the textualised and the untextualised, of writing, of unwritten verbalisation, of the referenced and the  unreferenced.

How does one begin mapping the universe of meanings generated by the scholarly and literary productivity spanning hundreds of texts in different disciplines, the work of the polymath Toyin Falola?

One can start from anywhere since each text leads directly and indirectly to all the others.

A particularly helpful place to start from, however, seems to be his autobiography of his childhood, A Mouth Sweeter than Salt and that of his teenage years, Counting the Tiger's Teeth: An African Teenager's Story, magnificently written works reverberating with the cultural immersions critical to generating the scholar reaching from his foundations in Yoruba culture and history into the cosmos of African history, society and thought, employing a thorough grounding in the Western scholarly techniques in which he was trained, having been born when this imported system achieved dominance in Yorubaland, even as he is currently exploring how to merge the Western system and the classical Yoruba knowledge systems, as demonstrated, among the texts I am acquainted with, in ''Ritual Archives'', from The Toyin Falola Reader and   Decolonizing African Knowledge: Autoethnography and African Epistemologies.

Using a textual centre or centres is one approach. One of such textual forms could be autobiographical. Another is employing an ideational centre. Such an ideational centre could be epistemic, a mode of developing insight, such as imagination. Falola's best work I am familiar with across genres may be described as defined by imaginative creativity, in terms of various ways in which such creativity may be understood, imaginative creativity at times vivifying or shaped by intellectual creativity demonstrated by conceptualisation, ratiocinative expression or poetic and imagistic writing or all of these.

Another possible unifying and generative centre is the imagistic. 

The autobiographical involves employing an incident, a personage, an idea, a body of ideas, an image or other possibilities  from Falola's autobiographies as an interpretive or generative centre of his productivity.

The imagistic involves using an image or cluster of images, from the autobiographies or other texts, in achieving the same goals.

The most powerful image I have encountered so far in my admittedly quite limited reading of Falola's works so far, given its scope, though I have some sensitivity to its disciplinary range and variety of genres, is the image of the magical herbalist Iya Lekuleja, first presented in the autobiography of his childhood A Mouth Sweeter than Salt and that of his teenage years, Counting the Tiger's Teeth.

Correlative with the image of Iya Lekuleja as an intersection of various interpretive possibilities is that of her store and her room, images of space as archive of multifarious interpretive possibilities, evocative of Falola's ''Ritual Archives'' and, in turn, with the continuously proliferating universe of his work.

I shall expand on this further, though perhaps briefly, in a forthcoming essay unifying the imaginative, the autobiographical and imagistic, as realized through the figure of Iya Lekuleja,  her store and room as a generative structure for understanding the dynamism and unifying logic/s of the work of Toyin Falola.

Oluwatoyin Adepoju

Mar 2, 2023, 1:43:13 PM3/2/23
to usaafricadialogue, Yoruba Affairs, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju

                Textual, Epistemic, Autobiographical and Imagistic Windows into the Prolific Multidisciplinarity 
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages