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Category Archives: The My-Stery

The My-Stery: Animism, Cybernetics and Adaptability


“Android/Negroid # 1″ by Wayne Hodge

Ever since my mother received her smart phone, she has constantly been coming to me with numerous questions about how to use it. She has such a difficult time adapting to how it works no matter how many times I show her. No matter how much she uses the smart phone, I don’t think she fully connects or pays attention to it in order to learn. She cannot learn how to use the smart phone if she does not open herself to learning how to use it. Half the time when I am showing her what to do, I am not exactly sure what I am doing myself; I am figuring it out as I go along based on a set of knowledge I have learned already from smart phones and just playing around with it. I try to work with the phone based on how it might move or based on the signs it gives.

Sometimes, I think she sees technology as a magic device that will just do for her and she doesn’t want to take the energy to work with it, to move with it. Sometimes, I think that she thinks of God in that way, too. God is somewhat detached from herself as much as the technology is and she lets it remain that way. This experience with my mother stirred my thoughts on our interaction with God (or higher spirit) and technology. Maybe we should see God (or higher spirit) much like the character Lauren Olamina does in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. If “God Is Change,” I have to learn its fundamentals and adapt with it. I have to interconnect with it as if it is a part of me, as if we are extensions of each other, that I have to attach it to me and bend it to my image to survive and grow as much as it bends and changes my image. As for technology, it should be looked at in a similar fashion. It adapts to you as much as you adapt to it.

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The My-Stery: Magic, Mystery, Spooks, Superpowers and the Future in Blues


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A couple of days ago I was searching for blues artists that I haven’t heard of and I came across Willie Brown and his song, “Future Blues.” The song inspired me to create a short playlist with blues songs of a speculative nature. As for the title of the playlist, it comes from a book I stumbled across while looking for songs, Mark Winborn’s Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey. Also, for additional reading, here is Victor Kennedy’s essay called, Magic and the Blues. Enjoy!

Songs in Playlist:

Wilton Crawley and Jelly Roll Morton’s “Futuristic Blues”

Willie Brown’s “Future Blues”

Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Ain’t Superstitious”

Willie Dixon – “Seventh Son”

J.T. “Funny Paper” Smith – Seven Sisters Blues

Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues”

Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train”

Memphis Minne’s “Hoodoo Lady Blues”

Bessie Smith’s “Blue Spirit Blues”

Bessie Smith’s “Cemetery Blues”

Bessie Smith’s “Spider Man Blues”

Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Working”

Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”

Muddy Waters’ “I’m a Man (Mannish Boy)”

Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman”

Koko Taylor’s “I’m a Woman”

John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana’s “The Healer”

 

 

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The My-Stery: The “Label” of (Afro)futurism


I have not done this post in a while, so here it goes:

Recently, Shadow and Act reposted an essay from last year, “African Renaissance, How The Prefix ‘Afro-‘ May Arrest Imagination & Manifesto Salesmanship,” by Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha. I had a few thoughts about it that I formed during a private conversation with Cosmic Yoruba last year, but I never published them. So, I decided to do it now, especially after seeing Pumzi director Wanuri Kahiu’s TED Talk about labels:

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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Afrofuturism/Afrosurrealism, The My-Stery

 

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The My-Stery: Top Reasons I Want to Go to Blogging While Brown


Brief break from regular programming:

Last year, I went to Blogging While Brown conference and I learned a lot. In fact, I am still learning a lot from the conference, following their facebook and twitter. So since the conference will be in New York City again on June 27th-28th, I will definitely like to go again.

1) To be re-inspired: There are times when writers and bloggers feel less motivated to continue blogging. Conferences like this give us a chance to meet and see other writers and bloggers who understand what you go through, form new connections, and get new inspiration for posts and how to build up your blog.

2) A refresher course: Since I am relatively new to blogging on my specific blog platform and all the tools and information related to blogging, it is easy to forget that information between the times of the conference, coming up with posts and doing other activities of daily life. The conference is a good way to remind me of all that information as well as learn new information.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in My work, The My-Stery

 

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The My-Stery: The Legba Circuit in Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’


“After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, The Prologue,” a 1999 photograph by Jeff Wall

Two of my favorites quotations from Invisible Man: “Beware of those who speak of the spiral of history; they are preparing a boomerang. Keep a steel helmet handy” and “The old is ever new.”

Today is Ralph Ellison’s Birthday and he would have been his 100th birthday. So, here is a taste (a short summary) of my essay, “’The Electric Impulse:’ The Legba Circuit in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man,” which I submitted to be in Afrofuturism 2.0, an anthology edited by Reynaldo Anderson and Charles Jones.

Inspired by Nikola Tesla’s quotation, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration,” I argued that Legba (also associated with Eshu, Exu, etc.) is the guiding force of Ellison’s novel, incarnating himself through several of the characters in the book and under-girding the main themes of the book. 

When it comes to dissecting the novel, many will focus on the intersections of technology and race or even the musical aspects of it, since Ellison was a trained musician before becoming a writer, but rarely do they explore the spiritual, mythological and cosmic framework of the novel in relation to those other elements. Ellison had said himself that he uses myth and ritual as part of the process of his own writing in the Paris Review and he makes several references to those mythic ideas within his work. Thus, the novel intersects the two strands of spirituality and technology, much like the major guiding Legba-like character for the narrator, Rinehart, the spiritual technologist. Ellison uses the surface of technology to explore deeper questions of race, history, humanity, spirituality and understanding of the universe.

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The My-Stery: The Ghost of AfroFuture…


Art by Moragot

Social Death, Wounded Transformations and The Hauntings of Prophetic Tradition :

Tomorrow is Christmas and one story that came to mind in relation to afrofuturism, and especially after I watched Arthur Jafa’s Dreams Are Colder than Death, was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the story’s ghosts of past, present and future.

In the Western imagination, blackness, darkness and Africa (Heart of Darkness) to an extent has represented a kind of social and metaphorical death. For example, Edgar Allen Poe’s tropes of blackness and darkness representing death and evil in works like “The Raven” (the animal also representing the antithesis of the “human” in western construction) and his lesser known novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Even today, we still see the pervasiveness of it, such as Justine Sacco‘s tweet about Africa and aids, reinforcing the implication that Africa as a whole is a wasteland, a place of death only, or even ghettos across America where they are only viewed through lens of crime and death.

But that imagination also be observed within the diaspora as well. Jafa mentioned in the discussion after the film that in one particular West African indigenous group, if certain children were past the point of initiation, they were not able to be reclaimed and thus were left in the woods to die. He asked how did that relate to the diaspora; are we the monsters in the woods, the dark big bad wolf in a sense. Jafa emphasized that this was something we need to address to heal.

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Afrofuturism/Afrosurrealism, The My-Stery

 

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The My-Stery: The Social Brain, Psionic Ability and Shiftings of Mind, Body and Space


Source: Scientific American

While reading this morning Brainpicking’s, “The Science of Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect,” the article stood out to me because of its connection between sociality, survival and mindreading:

“[Matthew D. Lieberman] argues that this osmosis of sociality and individuality is an essential aid in our evolutionary development rather than an aberrant defect in it:

Our sociality is woven into a series of bets that evolution has laid down again and again throughout mammalian history. These bets come in the form of adaptations that are selected because they promote survival and reproduction. These adaptations intensify the bonds we feel with those around us and increase our capacity to predict what is going on in the minds of others so that we can better coordinate and cooperate with them. The pain of social loss and the ways that an audience’s laughter can influence us are no accidents. To the extent that we can characterize evolution as designing our modern brains, this is what our brains were wired for: reaching out to and interacting with others. These are design features, not flaws. These social adaptations are central to making us the most successful species on earth.

The implications of this span across everything from the intimacy of our personal relationships to the intricacy of organizational management and teamwork. But rather than entrusting a single cognitive “social network” with these vital functions, our brains turn out to host many…”

“The Social Brain and Its Superpowers”

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