Tag Archives: Ralph Ellison

Moving on the Wires: The Spiritual Technologist Essay

Spirit TechFor Black History Month, I present to you my published essay, “The Spiritual Technologist: An Afrofuturistic Techno-Ethos:”

Using the title of the character Rinehart from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” I explore briefly the concept of the spiritual technologist as a way to develop my own philosophical ethos for the movement of Afrofuturism.

You can buy the essay for $1.99 at Smashwords!

Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts

*Please DONATE to my blog by clicking on the donate button at the side panel or send funds to my email svfreebird87@gmail.com. Any amount is appreciated! Thank you!

*Feature about Dr. Sheena C. Howard on Black Girl Nerds: “Dr. Howard is author of the book Black Queer Identity Matrix (2014) and first author of the book, Black Comics: Politics of Representation. She has featured as a guest speaker at various workshops, universities and high schools including, but not limited to: Penn State University, West Chester University and West Catholic High School, due to her work around intercultural communication, diversity, service to the community and leadership.

Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson originated from Howard’s graduate school dissertation on Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks comic strip. Howard’s dissertation examined gender dynamics, African American Vernacular English and Black hegemonic masculinity within the language and aesthetic of the comic strip. While writing her dissertation Dr. Howard was alarmed at the lack of books which featured or even mentioned the names of Black cartoonists. From there, Howard decided to create a baseline of literature around the historical and present-day contributions of Black cartoonists.

* Yes, Comics Can Empower Black Girlson Zetta Elliot’s Blog: “The twenty titles discussed below are just a start, especially now that the comic book publishers are paying more attention to girls and young adult women as marketing demographics. And while not all the comics I cite are created by black women, events like the recent panel on “Black Women in Comics” at the Schomburg Center’s 2nd Annual Black Comic Book Day make clear that black women have long been a part of the industry as avid consumers and creators. The dynamic work of Afua Richardson and C. Spike Trotman, along with this list of over 50 black women comics artists and writers from the Jackie Ormes Society models the kind of creative freedom that can empower any girl who picks up a comic.”

*Ytasha L. Womack’s “RAYLA 2212, the complete galactic love saga of Rayla Illmatic debuts at the Chicago Comic Con, April 25-27.

Continue reading Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts

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.

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

Otherworldly Videos: Transmission Series

Ekari (Ashleigh Ekari) is developing a series called TRANSMISSION: Afrofuturism as an Archive as part of her senior capstone project for the class Re-Imagining the Archive. She describes it as “exploring the ways in which speculative fiction, namely Afrofuturism, functions as a ‘future archive,'” or in other words, “a collection of speculative future possibilities, a collection of desires (and fears) projected into the future.”

The project is a series of interviews with various creatives and educators, asking each of them to use their own experiences to “create and flesh out Sage, a fictional character living in a parallel universe in the year 2015.”

Thinking about the purpose of the project, I immediately thought of Peter Wheastaw in Ellison’s Invisible Man and his collection of blueprints, a reservoir of possible social structures.

Below are the first two interviews conducted with Ronika McClain and Malikah S.

[vimeo 76021465 w=700&h=480]

Continue reading Otherworldly Videos: Transmission Series

Moving on the Wires: Giveaway Winner and Invisible Man Paper

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/9/9f/Invisible_Man.jpg/165px-Invisible_Man.jpg*The winner of the Sankofa Journal is bigfatjamaicanwedding. Email me at svfreebrid87@gmail.com your address and I will send it to you by the end of next week. Thanks to you and everyone who enters or spread the word about it!


*For a limited time, you can read  a draft of the independent paper I have been working on about electricity and percussiveness in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Just go to the products/special items page here. Enjoy!

The My-Stery: Invisibility and Anti-Matter at the RNC

Watching veteran actor Clint Eastwood’s “act” with an invisible President Obama in a chair may have been the highlight of the Republican National Convention, but as several commentators have mentioned, it ironically represented the Republican platform and treatment of Obama in this election. Through their words and actions, this is what I have heard from the Republicans: “I don’t matter.”

To be rendered invisible is to be treated as if one doesn’t exist and the issues that matter in that life doesn’t exist. Jamil Smith writes in his article, “The President, rendered invisible in a chair,” part of the right-wing’s agenda had been to call out in any way possible the illegitimacy of Obama’s presidency; basically to erase his presence as the president of the United States. But it has also been about erasing the realities of “others” in general. Instead of caring about the people who live down here on earth, I feel as if right-wingers’ heads are always in the sky or at least their noses are so turned-up that they fail to see the rest of us.

Most of the issues that republicans either ignore or want to legislate in their favor will greatly affect the material lives of people of color, women, LGTBQ communities, poor people, elderly, immigrants, the sick, the disabled, students and the unemployed. I am included in this. I am a poor, right now unemployed, post-grad, black woman. All of this will affect me, but all I saw at the republican convention were people who were not speaking to someone like me. I was rendered invisible as well.

Continue reading The My-Stery: Invisibility and Anti-Matter at the RNC

The My-Stery: The Gaze in 2012

Rockwell- Somebody’s Watching Me

With the recent death of Rodney King, I wanted to reflect on the gaze or surveillance in our society and how it has manifested itself during this year so far. The gaze has implied that the bodies of others, like Black bodies, should always be under scrupulous examination because we are threats to dominant groups. Theological philosopher James W. Perkinson said that one of the main modi operandi of Western culture has been technologies of the eye. In their superficial use, much destruction has occurred in the world. I would also add that our own eyes as a kind of technology themselves have been just as harmful. The world we see is not actually what we see – images are flipped, there are perceptual errors and the brain creates illusions to fill in gaps. Yet entire cultures for centuries were and still are built off of what we see only, and it has had dangerous and paralyzing effects on people of color.

In Black Skin, White Masks, Franz Fanon describes himself like the wave that becomes a particle under observation: “The white gaze, the only valid one, is already dissecting me. I am fixed. Once their mircrotomes [used in microscopy] are sharpened, the Whites objectively cut sections of my reality. I have been betrayed” (95). As Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man also exposes the simultaneous hyper-visibility and hyper-invisibility that people of color face. For their eyes do not see the full spectrum of all, but only what they wants to see of others and it is stifling.

This year, the gaze still has shown itself in a variety of ways. We have seen Black men and women watched, stalked and killed for just being, as in the killings of Trayvon Martin, Kenneth Chamberlain, Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, and Darius Simmons. We have families who are threatened because they look different in a community as with the Kalonji family who were held at gunpoint in their home by neighbors in Georgia. The debates and protests over “stop-and-frisk,” which happens to males of color more often, is reaching a peak in New York, London and other cities as well. Although statistics show Black and Latino people do not use drugs more than other groups, they are actually stopped and frisked way more than their actual percentage in the population. While we suffer at the hands of this practice, we have people who have the nerve, like NY mayor Bloomberg, to obnoxiously tell us that it is for our own good.

Not only is it governmental and penal policing, but also institutional and media policing. We do not have access to or it is viewed as insignificant for us to have control of the information and images given to us and that depict us. The most recent example is the Erykah Badu and Flaming Lips controversy over the video for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Whether this is a real feud or publicity stunt, Badu’s claim that her rights in collaborating on the creation of the video were taken away in favor of her and her sister, Nayrok’s sexual objectification highlights the manipulation of images of people of color in general. The killings, police beatings, stop-and-frisk, and media dehumanization are continuous parts of a system that denigrates, criminalizes and hyper-sexualizes us on sight. Our blackness implies our inhumanity to the greater society that refuses to question why when they look us, they do not really see us. Maybe its time for another Invisible Man.