Monday, October 08, 2007

Dhalgren



Where is, as Mos Def would say, The New Danger? I just finished reading Chip Delaney’s Dhalgren—something I do every two years—and recognized just how dangerous the book is. A queer brother writing what has been termed SF, shifting perspective, non-standard narrative techniques…the novel is heavy, but not in a bad way. It was first published when I was three-years-old and I read it (for the first time and a first edition) when I was nineteen. And I’ve been reading it ever since.

But where is the new Dhalgren?

Some would argue that Kodwo Eshun’s More Brilliant than the Sun fits the bill in a very specific way: It heralded a new way of looking at SF. And I’ll argue with anyone that electronic music is SF made audible. The sad thing is many people won't have the chance to read Eshun’s book because it is a) out of print and, b) costs over $200 on the after-market. You might want to get together with a few friends and all of you can chip in to buy the book and take turns reading it. That’s your homework.

While I hold SF/Fantasy and horror dear to my heart, most of the stuff produced by Black Folks is rather safe and pedestrian. The last Black-themed/centered work that really hit me was Octavia E. Butler's Parables books. And this was a long time ago.

I feel that the Afro-Geek/Black-Nerd/Alterna-Black aesthetic needs to be dangerous. It is our duty to confront the banality of the world, to offer different perspectives on how the world can be. To rewrite our existence and attack the stasis-quo. And I’m not just talking about books.

We need better films. Eve’s Bayou was probably the last Black-themed/centered film worth watching. There are a few films (Son of Man is a great example) that try to address the multi-facets of Black life (of course these aren't American films), but Who’s Your Caddy? Soul Plane? Code Name: The Cleaner? Get the Fuck out of here.

Music has always been a great place for alternative Black expression. Check out Alice Smith, Bows, and Charlie Dark. But this is not enough.

Television is full of shit. I urge all of us to boycott the box. Even though I am enamored of genre television (BSG; Trek; Heroes (the only brother was a convict married to a white girl, and the only sister—who messed with white boys, was killed; Torchwood (best new show, but the only Black character they’ve had (so far) was a killin’-ass cyborg woman); Eureka, a Black female agent who loves the white boys; and I could go on and on? I asked this before—could a Black themed genre show fly?

But I’m an author, and it always comes back to words. Where are those imagineers who create different worlds in the middle of the night? Where are those who create the monsters of tomorrow, and then gives us the means to defeat them? Where are those writers who make me get a dictionary, an encyclopedia, an atlas, and a bible when I read there work?

I want (need) to be challenged emotionally, spiritually, and psychically.
Where is the new (next) tome that will leave a Dhalgren-sized hole in the Afro-sphere?

Shawn

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4 Comments:

Anonymous MML said...

Hey Shawn, I like your blog a lot. Just added you to my furthermuckin' blogroll..

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love this blog too...it's hard to believe someone out there has similar thoughts

4:02 PM  
Blogger michael a. gonzales said...

god i love this post
props on reading "dhalgren" like it's the weekly reader...my friend tim once decribed it as "bigger than the the bible."

7:39 AM  
Blogger Mia Wolff said...

when will the next tome leave a Dhalgren sized hole anywhere in the universe? I miss it. Its how I met Chip.
eventually ended up with us doing a graphic novel together, not withstanding my whiteness.

9:33 AM  

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