for Nabi, Sarah, Jayson, Sean, and Justin who I lived with for one week in New Orleans
What will happen to all that beauty?, James Baldwin asked in the second essay in The Fire Next Time: “A letter from a region in my mind”, when he goes to visit Elijah Muhammed and observes and considers the value of a separate black nation within the united states. I can’t say for sure where all the beauty goes inside that formulation, but I have witnessed black social autonomy, the erotics of the black crowd, what happens when we gather together, what arises from our gathering. Maybe I’m entering this line of thought to ask: what becomes of my own black self when individuation becomes a private nonce taxonomy, when individuation is destroyed and the self is repurposed. (help me out here).
I want to believe the beauty Baldwin implores to stay around can be transformed into and circulated as a kind of fugitive energy outside of systemic duress. Thus, I’m proposing a theoretical framework to encompass and work toward a malleable container for this kind of energy: afro-entropy (this nomenclature is a reactionary imprecision re: afrofuturism/afropessimism false binary, other possible name: black hole theopolitical kineticism? I don’t know). Afro-entropy describes ways/moments in which public, black social intimacy isn’t assigned value as a capitalist product. Go-go music in DC, and the physical space of a go-go, is an example of this idea. (And I’d like to take some space here to praise the hyphen for the work it does in the word go-go. lil rushed caesura, linger on for only so long). Go-go resists popular consumption because of the form’s kinetic orality, reliance on live performance, and interval improvisation. At the go-go the crowd is an integral member of the band. A tenet of the sonic reality of go-go music is that it collapses the sound, the sound envelopes itself, is destroyed, is re-made as itself. There’s a loss of temporality, of linear time when listening to go-go.
In a similar sense, our gathering together, our living this week on Saint Philip street collasped my sense of self. Sean passes me in the kitchen, places his hand on my back to steady his movement forward, to warn me of his arrival. In that moment, I re-see a memory I thought I’d forgotten: The church I grew up in had no windows, the choir had taken up Hezekiah Walker’s “I need you to survive”. And those in the pews began to weep, and some of us fell out into one of our arms, passing the spirit between each other. I need you, I need you, I let go and need you.