Because original versions of artwork included in the international first edition of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah remained available for sale throughout process of publishing the book, there was some doubt about whether they should be listed in the Table of Contents. They are properly identified at the beginning of corresponding chapters but to further augment readers' experience of the connection between the book and its collectible illustrations, links to the original versions are included below in the enhanced Table of Contents.
When clicking the link to art on Dr. Abigail Jordan it will become apparent that the book illustration is a black and white detail of a much larger original. Moreover, the sole non-original exception to the listed artworks is a cartoon employed at the beginning of the story titled 'Riding the Bus with Man-Boy and Shaniquananda: And Then Not.' The cartoon is borrowed from a now defunct 1949 publication known as Riders Reader.
Enhanced Table of Contents for
The phrase “Immortal City” as used in this chapter is borrowed from the title of the first volume of the four-book Civil War Savannah Series (by historian Barry Sheehy, photographer Cindy Wallace, and historian Vaughnette Goode-Walker) which in 2011 was published in commemoration of the American Civil War sesquicentennial.
Possibly the most important function served by dreams is that during periods of social, political, or personal stagnation, they can provide the catalyst for continued progressive movement forward. It was what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream did for America at a time when the developing practices of democracy were stalled by racism, gender inequality, class prejudice, and other forms of social injustice. It is what the innovative visions of diverse creative thinkers around the world may be doing for humanity right now.
Harlem Renaissance Centennial
“When considering how the practices of slavery, philanthropy, and rebellion could all converge behind the exquisitely-rendered doors of the Telfair Museum, it becomes less difficult to imagine the different implications of it housing works by artists as diverse as France’s Claude Monet (Nov 14, 1840 – Dec 5 1926), America’s Luther E. Vann (Dec 2, 1937-April 6, 2016), and Lebanon’s Kahlil Gibran (Jan 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931)... There is a kind of unrecognized kinship between their painted meditations on the layered realities of human existence and the ever-unfolding wonders of time’s relationship with space, and light’s eternal dance with shadows and hues.” (from Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah)
The above reference to “practices of slavery” (hopefully obviously) should not be taken as allusion to those associated with today’s Telfair Museums of Art. It refers rather to past practices which made possible the foundation upon which the museum was founded. It is nevertheless painfully relevant to our modern times because of the current pandemic of human trafficking. That makes the work and function of the modern Telfair Museums, which often bridges cultural divides and celebrates human diversity, all the more essential.
100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance
“It is true that a person always remains a person and utterly separate and apart from every other person. But it is equally true that each person is destined to reach with others an understanding and a unity which transcend individuality…” (T. Merton from A Life in Letters)
These wise and useful words from Merton illustrate one of the primary themes of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah (Cyberwit.net Publishing) which is the necessity of individuals and social groups to reconcile themselves with one another to achieve sustainable peace and mutually-beneficial progress. Merton referred to that necessity as though it were/is an inevitability described as "an understanding and a unity."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) called it "an inescapable network of mutuality" and the "inter-related structure of reality.” I have tended, for some years now, to think of it as a convergence of historical confluences which either align the priorities of individuals and societies with historical trends or place them in conflict with the same.
Navigating the Dynamics
One of the great compromises people sometimes have to make in life is accepting that plans do not always work out as preferred. In Cities of Lights and Shadows and Dreams, the author becomes preoccupied by a strange false memory of being in Paris, France, just after World War II, a time when a number of African Americans had made their way to The City of Lights. Tears in the fabric of this memory allow him to see himself in another later time in his hometown of Savannah where he talks with singer India Arie and others about the visit to Paris but which in fact has never taken place.
The story introduces the parallel themes of displacement, expatriation, attempted escape from painful conflict, and unavoidable return as the narrator imagines what it was like for author Richard Wright (Native Son, Black Boy) upon his arrival in Paris and struggles to make peace with the reality of his actual life in a very different time and place.
Or we can look at it this way: journeys and destinations are not one and the same. The first has to be engaged with a great deal of committed flexibility and enthusiastic perseverance before the other can be enjoyed with any amount of secured satisfaction whatsoever.
Co-Author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Creator of Silk-Featherbrush ArtStyle
Gift of Redeemed Integrity
I had spent many years staying as far away as I could avoiding a city that I associated more with fear, grief, and pain than I did with love or joy. It is no secret that we have first to claim the injuries that antagonize us before we can release the suffering caused by them. Claiming my own was further compounded by newer challenges that continued to pile up in real-time. These too had to be endured, rejected, screamed about and cried over, confronted, and then finally claimed before healing growth could take place.
For a century and a half, my city––and my country––had been like me. They had tried––like me––to avoid pain at all conceivable costs. Not only did this prove, in the end, impossible, but neither was it (as one finally realized) at all desirable.
Terror can sometimes surprise us by eventually revealing itself as a gateway to beauty, just as ineluctable destiny can––sometimes––unlock doors to freedom. Very possibly, more than the transformative grace it can bring to your own life is the gift of redeemed integrity it can present to the lives––and deaths––of many others.
I like the phrase 'gift of redeemed integrity' from the previous sentence because for those struggling with adverse circumstances it reaffirms the all-important value of "keeping your eyes on the prize." That kind of focus can be difficult to maintain during chaotic times in tumultuous environments. Daring to believe it was even possible to do so played a major role in constructing for readers over the period of a decade the writings and visual art presented in the pages of Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah.
Co-Author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Creator of Silk-Featherbrush ArtStyle
About the Author:
A passionate reader, committed writer, artist, photographer, dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, hurricane survivor, maker of poems, believer in the value of compassion, historian, award-winner, journalist, adherent of beauty, and student of wisdom.
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