Ta-Nehisi Coates's phenomenology of the body

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The publication of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me (2015) has been met with mixed and widespread reviews and reactions. Responses have ranged from a critique of his "pessimism" to a grand celebratory remark announcing him as the next great intellectual and social critic in the mold of James Baldwin. Yet there are few reviews that have acknowledged Coates's project as a materialist cosmology of the body, meaning that while Coates embraces terrestriality over transcendence, he nevertheless sees great possibilities in the body, the greatest of which is the creation and destruction of "galaxies of reality." More than just examining race and race relations in the midst of one of the highest incidences of black death, Coates's book examines the meaning of this lived reality at the level of the body and its capacities to both open up and close down material possibilities of life and death. This article will investigate the meaning of the body in Coates's book, its relationship to "race," and will argue that while Coates does not offer us a solution to the problem of racial embodiment, he does offer the idea that one can and must make peace within the chaos of existence.

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Journal of Speculative Philosophy