NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 41

Irrespective of memory deficit , John Ayotunde Isola Bewaji reminds us in his insightful exegesis of Black Aesthetics : An Introduction to African and African Diaspora Philosophy of Art ( 314 ), of “ the role of art , as a repository of communal memory in the development of wholesome identity constructs in society … enabling Africana people to appreciate the dangers of abandonment of African heritage — arts , culture , civilization and humanity — under the false impression that it is the immutable laws of nature to be carried away by the superior force of Western culture at the expense of the narratives that shape individual and collective identities located in the artistic African culture ( 312 ). While there is an urgency for African Diasporic artists to claim responsibility for the expression of visual , performance , fine and applied arts that flow from the gestures and attitudes of collective experience , the angst of a DuBosian double consciousness inhibits the ability of the African Diasporean to reconcile the two worlds without staking an arbitrary claim of identity that ignores the world of current socialization . In the attempt to define the worlds in which they live and worlds from which they have come , it is necessary to resist arbitrary identification with a singular place of origin as the source of retained traditions . Most important to the construction of aesthetics and purpose of cultural production is an appreciation that African cultures are not static , that in response to economic , political , and cultural transformations , their meaning and purpose in time are part of a continuing process of reconstitution .
Paradoxically , the Euro-American , too , like the African , was an émigré in a new land where he was forced to negotiate European traditions with the Indigenous Native American and African traditions , and thereby suffers from a triple consciousness , an unreconciled denial that manifests itself in a false hubris of superiority . The European arrived , voluntarily , in a strange , new wilderness , yet with an irrepressible desire to abandon European sensibilities and reinvent himself as a new-American . However , void of a cultural tradition , he must covertly appropriate the traditions of the Native Americans and Africans ( culinary , song , dance , language , spirituality , etcetera ), and exploit free labor and the natural resources of a bountiful land-grab so as to project upon the world a European transformed into a Euro-American , whose cultural uniqueness provided wealth that fostered a mythos of American Exceptionalism . Within the triple consciousness is an amalgamation of these appropriations , the source of which the Euro-American choses to ignore and is thus driven by a near-neurotic proclivity to arrogate the cultural standards and social norms for the entire nation — if not the world — establishing barriers to achievement that frequently promoted racism . Irrespective of new-found wealth , which belonged only to the privileged , the one thing all Americans share from sea-to-shining-sea is a beautiful landscape , which is spiritually illuminated in the Ray Charles rendering of the anthem , America , the Beautiful .
The spirit having been revealed in Ray Charles ’ potent rendition of America , the Beautiful , a renewal of confidence in the African construction of Beauty is gleaned , which is supported in the observation of Alexis Kagame , a Rwandan philosopher , poet , and Catholic priest , who offers an African view , which recognizes Beauty as a “ quality , above all with effective force ,” reasserting the spiritual essence of God as the procreative source required for creativity . As opposed to being the discernment of “ uninterested free-gratification ” of property in Western traditions , art is functional , expressed through “ harmony of meaning and rhythm , of sense and form .” A “ thing ”, irrespective of the medium or experience , has no inherent intelligence of its own , thus remains nothing more than a “ thing ,” unless human beings apply the activity to generate the quality of an “ effective force ,” which depends on the “ rhythm , the division of accents ” that correspond to the meaning . A “ thing ” without meaning is empty , nothing . Beauty , then , is a force , not an objectified expression of the senses , but a force unto itself , induced by an activity for a meaningful function , rather than purpose of personal gratification . ( La philosophie bantu-rowandaise de L ’ Etre , Burxelles , 1956 ).