So is it not more about the mark of an ambiguous or amphibiological quality of the means of musical expression -- the unceasing ability of each to be itself and to respond contradictorily to our questions and needs?
As he put it, le jazz Afro-Americain had that amphibiological quality, both 'a baggage of expression' with 'strangely little variation' and, at the same time, an appropriation of modern western musical forms joined together by rhythmic enjoyment.
In so doing, Schaeffner was developing a way of understanding the self and other which was, itself, amphibiological in its attempt to understand the plastic evolution of 'both sides' of the phenomenon: the music, with its double nature, and the western critic, with his ambiguous relation to that music.
The new forms were the product of this process of rediscovery and re-appropriation: 'And the ambiguous character of the dominant major mode, would this not be the origin of those seventh diminished chords which are always found in Afro-American songs, in the blues, in the harmonies of jazz?' (61) The presence of these hybrid harmonic forms, he noted, were strongest in America in areas where slaves were the most concentrated, places 'where the memory of African dances was still alive [and] were established as settings favourable to the elaboration of jazz.' (62) So what was the nature of this amphibiological evolution of jazz, which could only have come about through the mixing of African sensibilities and European cultural forms after the emancipation of the slaves?
This same process of amphibiological appropriation gave rise to the 'Coon Song' and the Negro Spiritual, two of the most distinctly Afro-American musical forms.
The amphibiological Afro-American spirit behind jazz, ever able to adapt and appropriate any cultural form and lend it meaning, was similar to a state of mind which the ethnographer should strive to emulate as he tried to understand culture.
If the amphibiological procedure moved back and forth between the self and other, between the expected and the unexpected, and between the familiar and the unfamiliar, Bataille made everything strange.
As the neologism itself revealed, it was an ancestry fraught with the amphibiological tension of cultural hybridity.