Is Toni Morrison the new arbiter of wisdom? According to the Big O, she is. We guess eloquence, poise, and a Pulitzer entitle you to intuit people’s mettle, rework the definitions of adjectives, and knight your favorite presidential candidate with the scepter of the wise.
In just the kind of hype-raising speech* you’d expect as Oprah’s contribution to Barack Obama’s campaign —complete with a twang-calibrated cadence reminiscent of a pastor “gettin’ ready to close” —Oprah decided to quote (or perhaps paraphrase) Morrison’s recent remarks about Obama, during a UCLA rally last Sunday:
“Toni Morrison said, “In thinking about the strength of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, Barack exhibits something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something, she said, is creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom…. “Wisdom is a gift. You can’t train for wisdom. You can’t inherit wisdom. You can’t learn wisdom. You can’t get wisdom in the workplace.””
The O goes on to heartily proclaim that, “Barack Obama has the gift of wisdom!”
Pardon us if we expect our emotional physics to provide more comprehensive formulas. We didn’t know that imagination and intellect are all that being wise entails. But then, we also didn’t know that Bill Clinton was “Blacker than any Black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime” until Morrison declared it in a 1998 New Yorker column.
* If you’re into that kind of thing, watch the clip more than once to maximize the sheer amusement of the O’s “Don’t play me small.” admonition. We also dig her four-time proclamation that she’s a “free woman,” and as such, she can “follow her own truth”–the ‘truth’ that has “led her to Barack Obama.” Hmm. He must have The Secret.