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Blackness, Technology, and the Changing Same

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Afrofuturism and Black Sound Studies

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Abstract

This chapter opens with a discussion of the movie The Last Angel of History and focuses on sound transmission through the ages as a kind of sonic technology. The movie is put in dialogue with Amiri Baraka’s essay on “The Changing Same,” where African-American music develops by continually expanding from specific core aesthetic and musical dimensions. To illustrate Baraka’s points, the chapter then discusses the music of Eddie Harris and sound found in stories by Henry Dumas.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This is something also brought forward in Amiri Baraka’s (then LeRoi Jones) discussion in “Technology & Ethos” (1970).

  2. 2.

    A similar reference to the “New World” is found in Weheliye, and is quoted in my introduction.

  3. 3.

    See also tobias c. van Veen’s “The Armageddon Effect: Afrofuturism and the Chronopolitics of Alien Nation” (van Veen 2015).

  4. 4.

    Sun Ra in the opening of the movie Space is the Place.

  5. 5.

    It seems clear that Eshun is referencing Total Recall as well as Philip Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (from 1966), the story adapted in Total Recall.

  6. 6.

    http://semiotexte.com/?p=680

  7. 7.

    The time is interesting. While The Man-Machine is not Kraftwerk’s first album that could be evoked, and while Donna Summer may be seen as “European” with “I Feel Love” rather than as Africa American, there are dimensions in the musical aesthetics here where questions of Europe versus America, male versus female, etc. are at stake. Eshun is choosing the male-centric version at least.

  8. 8.

    From the opening of The Last Angel of History, also heard in the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYe_nj7xfQM

  9. 9.

    The phrase “Language is a virus from outer space” should be heard here, from the song by Laurie Anderson, on the album United States Live (1984, recorded 1983), as well as from William S. Burroughs’s novel The Ticket That Exploded (1962), the second novel in The Nova Trilogy (with The Soft Machine, first published in 1961, and Nova Express, from 1964).

  10. 10.

    Cf. kode9, Memories of the Future (2006).

Discography

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Steinskog, E. (2018). Blackness, Technology, and the Changing Same. In: Afrofuturism and Black Sound Studies. Palgrave Studies in Sound. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-66041-7_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-66041-7_2

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