The mud in which we modern creatures—trying so hard, in all of our blindness, to find our modern lovers—are covered and buried must have been a theme that Hurston meditated on for years. Their Eyes Were Watching God was published a decade after “Monkey Junk,” but there’s already plenty of mud-slinging going on. At the end of “Monkey Junk,” the savvy city diva calls her ex a “hunk of mud” and tells him to go hang out with monkeys. She dismisses him coldly, in other words. She’s trying her best to dehumanize and demoralize him, to banish him from the place where the successful and the professional go to get out of the dirt. She’ll be earning a hundred “shekels” a month off the poor guy, so she can buy her silk drawers and hosiery in the “marketplace.” But Hurston seems to suggest that this diva has maligned her priorities, that her sense of value is skewed. She thinks, perhaps, the ease and comfort of the city has cleaned her of that mud and allowed her to gleam and shine, to become glossy and precious. But she still, apparently, has mud in her eyes, for she’s entirely missed the glimmer and glamour of her fellow. Perhaps all of her fellows. It’s a morality tale that seeks to expose the extent to which—in spite of the slick tricks of the city’s shop windows and lights—modern lovers are still (as they ever were) drowned in mud. They hunt and they hunt, but the mud keeps them from simply seeing each other’s glitter and flash, or hearing the weird little hum of that strange old love song as it plays on, and on.
more from Beatrice Marovich at Killing the Buddha here.