Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Blutopia by Graham Lock (Duke University Press, 1999)

Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Part in the Works of Sun, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton seeks to "show how these artists were each influenced by a common musical and spiritual heritage and participated in self-conscious efforts to create a utopian vision of the future." The introduction and the section that deals with Sun-Ra's construction of an "Astro-Black Mythology" that imagines a liberated Afro-Future as the inevitable product of an equally compelling African past, is proving highly useful to me as I set out to chart rap's space obsession to its rightful antecedents. Lock draws on literary and historical scholarship to locate Sun Ra's mythology within a much larger musical, philosophical, and spiritual tradition and even illustrate how Sun Ra's extraterrestrial musings and name changes can and should be reread not as symptoms of insanity, but of deliberate, critical genius. Highly recommended.

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