Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm making posters. Thoughts, comments, concerns? One in a series.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

In the digital divide the mech geek reigns supreme

Given: That the relation between a people and their technology is worthy of study.

Given: That black people/Negroes/peoples of African descent/darkies manifest flexible interfaces with technologies not crafted in initial design.

Given: Said Negroes/ Black folks/cultural children of slaves/ Blacks, who consistently search for new synchronic relationships with Mech (as in the mechanized technologies designed for end users who have minimal understandings of software coding), have an ambiguous relationship with mainstream Black culture and form an antagonistic dyad with corporate commercial “Black” culture.

Given: The deification/(Archetype making project) of the Smith is a cultural practice that still exists today physically in the continent of Africa amongst the Dogon and within the psyche of all those whose melanin count is a consistent consciousness making quality; It can be given credit for magical thinking/magical realism/science fictions/ and speculative frictions.

And whereas:

1. The digital divide is nothing more than a ride around the real issue, an undeserving educational system which is self-perpetuated by slave mentalities.

2. Black youth are consistently the trend setters in non computer based Mech (see, pagers, cell phones, Bluetooth, Blackberries, DVD players in cars, etc) and yet are still mislabeled as being technologically behind

3. You can’t be a part of the real hip-hop for over three months without knowing what dope producer programmed her/his beats with.

It has become necessary

…for a symbol, a nime, phenomenological psychopomp that can encapsulate everyone from Octavia Butler to Alice Coltrane and still leaves room for the unborn un-reality makers who perform in the void that we all coalesce from; A banner that those geeks of African descent who can quote Deep Space Nine can join under; A standard by which those Samuel Delany junkies who bump Outkast can stand by; A flag black comic book readers can wave to distinguish themselves with; A sign posted on the doors of houses where little nappy headed children are educated about orishas, griots, the symbology of the dollar bill, while given sonic guided tours of John Coltrane’s Interstellar space; A warning in the form of an E.M.T. ray (Etic mech tech- Non sentient technology that offers any new technology it encounters such a foreign interface that the tech begins to break down, either quickly or slowly depending on the intensity of the ray.) to the cultural pimps, the scavengers of custom, the marketing maggots, the acidic academics that lack praxis, telling them in no uncertain terms that the afrogeek is here fore and ever more strongly associated with their anti-hegemonic brethren, the alternablacks, the non thug associated celebrators of post soul anti-commodity negritude plus X-And they are no longer to be FZUCKED WIT.

We invite the new rituals, the sacrifices of sweat,mech, tech, soft and hardware. We refute the nationalization project of some of our folks but wish them well. We see the nation as a colonial project that has no choice but to copulate with the corporate structure. We on some other. Some party and some bullshit…but with lazer guns.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Dark Knights Returns

Over the past ten to twelve years, comic books have been increasingly accepted as legitimate forms a reading material for adults. This shift in acceptance can be directly traced back to the advent of the graphic novel. The graphic novel is a collection of a comic book series, bound together in a trade paperback form, and re-released as a complete story. This format accomplishes three things; one, the reader can read the story in its entirety without having to wait month to month for single issues; two, it reduces the cost of the story by 15-20%; three, it gives the artists and the writer the forum to take greater creative risks than in traditional comic books. It was this third thing that helped Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (TDNR) revolutionize the possibilities of the comic book form. Originally created by Bob Kane, Frank Miller took the Batman mythos in a bold new direction.

First and foremost, TDNR made a bold statement that comics weren’t just for kids anymore. The story, about a retired Batman and the murderous events that force him back to active duty, had never been seen before. It wasn’t that there weren’t any mature comic stories written before this time, but TDNR presented Batman through a psychological lens, thusly rendering Batman, and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, as three-dimensional characters. Throughout the course of the graphic novel, we are given intense views into Batman’s psyche. We discover that he considers Bruce Wayne his alter ego, and Batman his true self; Wayne being the mask that Batman has to wear in order for him to effectively wage his one-man war against crime. Age is also something that Batman has to consider. Once the perfect human specimen, he is now in his sixties and isn’t nearly as athletic as he was in his youth. But instead of letting the soreness of his body and the stiffness of his joints slow him down; Batman changes tactics.

Where once he would fight his enemies head-on, throwing caution to the wind, trusting—and reveling—in his physical prowess: Batman became a whole lot more sneaky. And on top of his sneakiness, Batman became vicious. Before explaining this, a brief intro to Batman’s origins is necessary.Bruce Wayne becomes Batman when he is witness to the murder of his parents by a low-level thug named Joe Chill. They were coming from a showing of a Zorro film, when Joe stepped from the shadows, gun in hand, and demanded Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace. Dr. Thomas Wayne, one of Gotham City’s most respected and wealthiest citizens, intervened and he and his wife were subsequently gunned down for his heroic attempt at protecting his family. This tragedy forced the young Bruce Wayne to grow up quickly.Using the old money fortune of his forefathers, Bruce traveled the world training under the best detectives, martial artists and crime-fighters of his day. After several aborted attempts at vigilantism, Wayne had not yet found his crime-fighting stride. While sitting in the study of Wayne Manor, a bat crashes through the window, interrupting Wayne’s thoughts. “That’s it,” He exclaims. “I’ll become a bat. Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot.” And Batman Was born.

Bruce had finally found the guise in which to hunt criminals. While he wasn’t above pummeling the hoods he came in contact with, in TDNR Batman crossed a line that he had vowed never to cross: he took a life. And the life that he took was his arch-nemesis: the Joker.The Joker was an unpredictable, maniacal villain that killed, raped, maimed and kidnapped just to get Batman’s attention. Pre-TDKR, the Joker was Batman’s opposite number. A villain worth of the Dark Knight Detective’s attentions. In TDKR, it is implied that there is a homoerotic, unrequited longing on behalf of the Joker. This tidbit caused such a stir in the comic book community that there were several news programs, including Sixty Minutes, that commented on it. That’s how much of an impact this work had on the culture-at-large. To say any more about the TDKR would ruin the pleasure of reading on of the best comics stories ever told.I choose to present this because The Dark Knight Returns was ground zero for the legitimization of the comic book form for adults. It was the harbinger that signaled the change from the four-color, pop art of the past, to the gritty, iconoclastic, adult-themed work of the present. Everything from the Matrix and Batman films and cartoons, to other comics work; such as Alan Moore’s superb Watchmen graphic novel, can trace their roots directly to The Dark Knight Returns.On a personal note, TDNR taught me how to tell an effective story. Through pacing, seemingly contradictory story elements and deconstructing the popular, TDKR was one of the doorways through which I could approach the grittier side of my storytelling and my performance. Even if you are not a comic fan; or have just a passing knowledge of the Batman mythos, I encourage you to read this book. Taken into context, it is one of the most revolutionary pieces of popular culture in history.

--Shawn Taylor

Audacity, Disobedience and the Esoteric Tradition

[This post will make more sense if you are somewhat familiar with Aeschylus's Prometheus and the Bible story of Adam, Eve and the Myth of the Garden. I'm trying to see both things through a lens of the Esoteric Tradition. Esoteric is being used in the sense of having to go out and engage with a mystical/transformative experience instead of having mystical/spiritual rewards just given to you, as with the concept of Grace. Think transformation and not consolation. Gnosis instead of "here you go." It is important to take a look at how we can engage in Spirit instead of waiting for Spirit to engage with us. This path is not for everyone; but the transformative experience of self-realization is one we should all be striving for. How much longer are we going to tolerate barriers between us and the Divine?]

Audacity is one of those words/concepts that sometimes carries positive and negative interpretations equally. Whether a woman is labeled audacious for graduating from a traditionally all-male military school or a child with mischievous tendencies being told that his audacities will no longer be tolerated in the classroom; audacity is a powerful disruptive force to the staid, the common and the sedentary. Despite its being open to positive and negative interpretations, there are two other components that should not be overlooked; an audacious act can never happen in a vacuum and it will always bring about a change.What is meant by audacious acts not being able to operate in a vacuum is that a person cannot engage in said act by his or herself. It goes back to the ‘if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound’? Audacity demands an audience, even if it is an audience of one. Taking this idea a step further, those who bear witness to the act are changed in someway; the grander the audacity the grander the change for the witnesses. Also, the committer of the act is changed as well. And if we look at audacity as a path to the esoteric tradition, there is also danger involved because esoteric knowledge and the self-realization gained from said knowledge are always dangerous. Prometheus brought fire to man; the very substance that the Gods wielded. While he was punished for his “crime,” his choice is one that all big dreamers must weigh in their minds; ‘If I do “x” a serious “y” might happen to me or others, but will the impact of the act outweigh any negative consequences?’ While Prometheus’ act was brash and bold and dynamic, Eve’s; from the Myth of the Garden, act of audacity was in no way less profound or significant. In fact, her audacious act was subtly more important to our discussion.

While some may view Eve’s decision to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil as an act of supreme disobedience, disobeying an edict that came directly from the creator of her and her husband, Eve’s act should be viewed as a path that one might take to inaugurate oneself to an esoteric tradition. Something that should be noted is that Eve’s willful disobedience was not malicious or intended to usurp the power of her creator. Eve’s decision to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was one of practicality, her susceptibility to beauty and her desire for wisdom. Eve looked upon the forbidden tree and knew that the fruit would be good to eat. She was smart enough to recognize another source of sustenance for she and her husband. Upon further examination of the tree, Eve was enamored of how beautiful the tree’s fruits were; ‘how can something so beautiful be forbidden to me’ she must have thought. Then, when she was approached by and had a conversation with the serpent—who, by the way, was more honest with her than her creator ever was—convinced her that she would not die from eating of the tree, she did so with the hopes of attaining some higher level of knowledge. Through Eve’s act and Adam’s complicity, they were cast out of the Garden and, along with the serpent, cursed for the rest of their days. It was as if they were all speeding on a highway and God was the patrolman who was issuing severe penalties. While some adherents to the Christian faith see the Myth of the Garden as a cautionary tale, in another interpretation, it can be seen as a hallmark of the beginnings of the esoteric tradition. The self-realization that occurs via esoteric traditions cannot be achieved in any other way aside from audacity and disobedience. These two ideas are the very necessary tools for esotericism. Without the audacity to break from the norm and seek out knowledge that is not publicly accessible, one can never truly experience what is hidden. To orient yourself to ideas, rituals, traditions and knowledge that some may be fearful of, ridicule or discount as bunkum, and to do so with the idea that the process that you are undergoing is one that is necessary to your very existence, despite what others may think of you, is audacity in one if its highest forms. And while you are undergoing this process of transformation, you may find yourself disobeying the rules of your peer group, family, community, business associates and sometimes even your government. But at the point where audacity and disobedience intersect is courage.

You can’t even entertain the notions of audacity or disobedience without some type of courage bolstering the two. To seek what is hidden and to come back and share what insights you have learned with those with the disposition to do the same as what you have done, no matter the outside pressures that may be cautioning you against it, is courageous. To walk the esoteric path, one must step with both audacity and disobedience, but one cannot take that first step without courage taking them by the hand and telling them where to step and what to avoid. Considering the huge risk-factors involved in pursuing esoteric knowledge; risk to self, others, social standing and sometimes sanity and social comforts, one has to be audacious, disobedient and courageous in order to reap the rewards that the esoteric path offers.

--Shawn Taylor

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Welcome to the Terrordome

Who would’ve thunk it? Octavia Butler died. Gordon parks too. Richard Pryor, Red Foxx, all of them, have become ancestors. Our idols are falling and there aren’t others picking up the mantle. The independent “colored” thinkers are a declining resource, not being replenished by younger, more spirited minds?

Wait time out. What the hell are we thinking?

Posse is out there, I’m sure of it. Time to find it. We will join together and form like Voltron, combating the U.S.D.A. prime pseudo suckers claiming thug mentality. This is psychic warfare to the fullest, the cost of a loss is our souls. Afrogreeks it’s time to get bold.

So what’s this about? Afrogeeks is a place where negritude reigns. Where media related blackness gets the gas face. Where the melanin enriched lovers of Battlestar Galactia, DS9, bad comics, and sci-fi flicks can communicate and spawn. This is where those people interested in such cultural refugees can check in and see what’s hot on the fringes. It is what it is kids. Let it come.

You’ll get more from me and my collaborator soon. This is just the jump off. Watch how we fly.