[-empyre-] (no subject) aesthetics

Thomas F. DeFrantz t.defrantz at duke.edu
Sun Apr 17 14:13:04 AEST 2016

right, thanks friends.  this is all very helpful to think about possibilities and potential outcomes of any sort of work, and intellectual work in particular.  

I remain insistent on securing ideologies in experience, even in this context of imagining immanence that seems to want to be outside of experience, relationship, identity.  

as an artist, I think of aesthetics as practical strategies, rather than speculative renderings.  so for me, an 'aesthetics of reading' confuses;  aesthetics might create relationship through craft, but for me they are not engaged primarily  by a 'receiver' who reads a performance or an object or a circumstance; they are created and engaged in concert with the artists who labor to create the social possibilities in their art.  

[maybe reading, in this context, becomes appreciation; as we might appreciate a performance rather than reduce it to the subject-object of being read by a theorist presumably outside of it.]

I want to trouble the waters where we encourage each other to work outside of narratives of family, relationship, shared skin and sweat, or boots on the ground, if you will.  it's fun work to imagine at a distance, but I find that the language that allows for the figure of the slave or that supports only interpretive strategies is also the language that objectifies us and makes us strange in the world.  of course I am strange to my nephews and colleagues, but I share creative projects that answer those relationships, on some level, directly.  my liquid blackness is experiential and rooted in my working through black aesthetics as practice.  if I want anything for you and your liquid blackness, it might be that you find ways to shift possibilities and resist fixing knowledges.  

I also want to trouble the waters in which creative output is treated with limited acknowledgment of the types of labor that produce it.  I am suspicious of writing about art as though varied media, approaches, or outcomes are equivalent.  film, sculpture, music, dance, theater, spoken word, or preaching are very different sorts of propositions in practice; I always find it odd to treat creative craft as a singularity.  for me, this approach tends to reify and stabilize the theorist, and diminish the creative impulse.  I continue to think that the hierarchical systems of citationality and universalizing ambitions of theorizing play weirdly into a re-racializing and subjugation of black aesthetics and black artistry.  

[don't explain it to me; help me understand how it incites you to feel...]

my hope as an educator in these conversations would be to recenter black people in theoretical discussions of blackness.  we've had centuries of philosophical tracts created to stabilize black abjection - and we might think about how immanence could be one of many.  how can we actually demonstrate our belief of black people creating possibility in the world through aesthetic practice, and if we wrote from among we people, rather than outside of them, what sorts of theoretical inventions would we create?  I imagine that these would be renderings available to more than the few hundred phds we already know.  for that to be true, we may have to stop relying on other people's labor in order to prove 'our' points.  

the academy has been built on a certain scaffolding that points toward an elite rendering accessible to a certain few.  but black performance and black aesthetics are available to all, in some ways.  how could we construct theory that actually answers black aesthetics in an availability? 

thanks for engaging these questions, and another time we will enjoy more conversation!

in motion, tommy

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