Cornell West from an October interview…
I call it a kind of focus on the funk. And what I mean by that is—you remember that wonderful letter by one of my great heroes, Samuel Beckett, where he says “Heidegger may talk about being and Sartre may talk about existence, but I talk about the mess.
And my fundamental aim as an artist is to try to find a form that accommodates the mess?” Well, Beckett’s mess is my funk. And by funk, what I mean is, wrestling with the wounds, the scars, the bruises, as well as the creative responses to wounds, scars, and bruises — some of them inflicted because of structures and institutions, some of them being tied to our existential condition, in terms of losses of loved ones, in terms of diseases, in terms of betrayals of friends, and so forth; all of these are wounds and scars and bruises.
And it’s at that very concrete level that my concept of philosophy operates. That’s one reason why I spend as much time with poets and musicians as I do with philosophers in my love of wisdom, in my particular conception of philosophy. So, it’s Chekhov, Beckett, and Kafka as much as Beethoven, Stephen Sondheim, and Curtis Mayfield.