- Afrofuturism is nothing! Which is emphatically not to say that it does not exist. What I would like to get at with such a statement is that Afrofuturism has no rigid boundaries. Attempts to define are as difficult as trying to define something like “race” or “Africa” or, more difficult yet, “culture.” That being said, we’ll continue the list.
- Sun Ra is still the man (and I use “man” aware of its negative connotations). Music like Space is the Place is all about… well… a place. Afrofuturism uses the future almost like a canvas; it’s a place to put ideas, ambitions, desires, song, etc.. Space is open, uncolonized, free, and in it (despite US’s space programs) it is possible to imagine freedom.
- Afrofuturism isn’t really about the future, and it isn’t about the past, and it can’t really be said to be about the present; to quote Sun Ra again, “time is officially ended.” Recently, during our studios pursuit of righteous knowledge, we at Voyages “came across” an article by Jean Comaroff called “Missionaries and Mechanical Clocks.” If colonization was spearheaded by exporting coo-coo clocks to small African villages, then perhaps the sound of decolonizing is Sun Ra’s piano.
- Afrofuturism is by no means a “new” phenomenon, ask the Dogons, who believed that they were descended from an amphibious people who lived in the Sirius star system (but I bet my diploma they didn’t call it that). They believed that that species was the failed precursor of humans. Don’t ask Nathaniel Mackey about this though, he’ll insist that we are the failed precursors of the human race. Anyone ready for deep-space travel?
- Speaking of Nathaniel Mackey, since Afrofuturism is all about opening up space, I might refer you to an essay by Brent Hayes Edwards called “Notes on Poetics in regard to Mackey’s ‘Song,’” in which he explores how Jazz (and Mackey’s poetry) uses repetition to “open up” space for dialog. And Edwards teaches at Columbia so you know this is the good s___.
- Goodnight everyone, and remember to draw your circles counterclockwise (and out)...
Our time at Voyages is coming to end, after six months of constant, in-depth, and beautifully written posts it’s a bit hard to believe. It’s been a ride, and I am sure that all you loyal (one) readers out there will miss us every bit as we’re gonna miss you. Here at HQ though, we have one last question: what the heck is afrofuturism? To answer, we threw together a few ideas, coupled with a few references, and arranged them into a list.