“What is Afrofuturism?” Part 5


Oliver Blecher did a post on afrofuturism and its manifesto. Blecher is a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of British Columbia. Currently, he is writing a book on the history of social scientists in the U.S. military, and he frequently writes commentaries on politics and popular culture.

I first came across the term “Afro-futurism” sometime in 2004 or 2005 when reading Octavia Butler’s book Lilith’s Brood. It was around that time that I was beginning have my entire way of thinking subverted by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Over a series of months, I began to explore the links between Butler’s science-fiction project and Sun Ra’s afro-Egyptian aesthetic cosmology, and read Mark Dery’s spectacular Black to the Future, where he underscores an emergent ontological parallax that occurs when the historical plight of African-Americans is coupled with a bricolage of futuristic techniques to build an afro-techno-utopian future.  

Obviously, that isn’t my struggle. Nevertheless, “my own” ontological underpinnings are entirely inseparable from the sonic-utopian architectonics of Sun Ra’s thought. The way in which his playful, atonal musings let the muted Other float in his compositions is a metaphor for his utopian vision; every composition is an irreducible event of pure difference. In my opinion, Sun Ra was the most important avant-garde artist of the twentieth century, and this mixtape is dedicated to his vision and his musicial progeny.  

Monday’s mixtape can be downloaded HERE.

Tracklist: Sun Ra, “The Satellites are Spinning”; Bilal, “Levels”; L.I.F.E. Long, “Karma Movements”; Antipop Consortium, “Fluorescent Black”; High Priest, “Monk Street,” “Elevation”; Flying Lotus, “Clay”; Funkadelic, “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks”

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