[-empyre-] Liquid Blackness- Week II: Aesthetics

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Apr 15 03:00:24 AEST 2016


that is a beautiful and positive movement you just danced (and getting away from the hurtful figures and objects, and connotations rememorized); 

thank you for shifting, and also recalling, or calling otherwise (swoops? rhythms) what I once learnt in a dance class from Olu Taiwo (he called it the "return beat")

I felt your insistence on  >>in-betweeness ... in the multi-sensory imperatives of black performance and its aesthetics>> is well taken and returns
or turns off the notion that (I may not have understood) seems to be questionable, negative, raised in an early post, namely that of (the increased detachability of blackness....) the aesthetic production of black fungibility.

you seem to be saying the opposite. you are not producing black fungibility;
what would fungible mean ("being interchangeable"?), i think that is not what
you are concerned with, yes?

can you talk more about practical matters?

with regards
Johannes Birringer

[thomas schreibt]
oh sigh.  the figure of the slave.  it hurts me so deeply, this connection of blackness to the figure of the slave. it is inevitable and totalizing?  I hope not, as an afro-optimist.  yes, I can be reduced to something else, but why would I want that for myself or for the people I love?  or for anyone? my great-great-grandmother bought her freedom; when I was little we kept her slave papers on the kitchen table.

when I dance, I change my shape in order to express; when I sing, I alter my breath to demonstrate my ability to work in-between.  why would I theorize from a place where I cannot maneuver, from a place as a slave, when I could theorize from my creative practice, as a black person?

and I am black, and there is an ontology to black life that embraces my being black. I don't consider this a concept in and of itself; it's more of a truth, which can have claims made against it, or can find itself to be always already pre-figured. I don’t want to not be black or to imagine outside of black, or to think of blackness as contingent and possibly impossible.  I don't want to think of black as temporary or detachable.   that hurts me in the ways that misogyny and homophobia hurt me. (have you heard of HB2 here in north Carolina?)  I can't productively theorize outside of my body in good faith (yes faith) because, well, why would I want to do that?  it goes against what I understand to be the materiality of my blackness and its fact; I theorize through my body and its gestures rather than the *idea* of its gestures.

I'm not an object; I'm not a black body; I'm a black person with complexities born of 3 billion neurons firing.  well, this is how I will narrate myself.

my insistence comes from our focus on aesthetics.  aesthetics are systems of thought and ideology made manifest; there are obvious and well-documented black systems of aesthetics.  they aren't metaphorical or interpretive only; they are practical ways to approach rhythm; to approach contradiction and embellishment as structural matter; to address concerns of velocity and attack; to embody the performance or demonstration of metaphor; the persistence of derision and irony as creative craft.  black performance is political in its eternal concern with relationships among (black) people.  its aesthetics are of the *now* rather than the 'what-came-before' or what might happen tomorrow.  in these aesthetic structures we do things *now,* because we must, we become the thing we dance.

black aesthetics are harder to apply to visual objects that exist through time, because black aesthetics are concerned with right now.   so we interpret objects and texts, but that experience is very different from running the sanctuary, or holding a neighbor's baby while our cousin dances in the pageant.

for me, the in-betweeness comes in the multi-sensory imperatives of black performance and its aesthetics, that demand widened abilities to process in several registers simultaneously.  black aesthetics are always multivalent; we rely on rhythm to organize possibility.

so ... transvaluation, yes, but not as something done because I decide so looking at an object, but rather in the context of political protest, a scream, and a swoop towards the ground and into the gutter, only to rise up again, wily and wet.

More information about the empyre mailing list