NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 49

bebop ghosts
blood guts screaming .
I listen for the voice beyond the primary voice
of the horn
I spin cosmic tales
I conjure and work juju with sound .
I knotted deep inside the rocking hull of the slaveship
I the castrated darkness
I whisper across seabones and lynched flowers ;
there are mysteries and ancestral movements here ,
I am the subject of someone ’ s magic ;
( Hoodoo Hollerin ’ Bebop Ghost : 1968 )
Memory : “ Ancestral memory ,” notes Fox , “ is enshrined archetypically in myth ” that illuminates Art with a vitality that is absent , when burdened with the “ weight of history ” drawn from selective memory , which is often , “ when not amnesia , mostly nostalgia … one of history ’ s agonized offsprings ” ( Callaloo 27 9 , no 2 ( Spring 1986 ). Sifting through the leavening pieces of memory , not for the sake of nostalgia , but more akin to Julius Hemphill summoning Hoodoo Hollerin ’ Bebop Ghosts in his phonic excavation of Dogon A . D . so I might revive an ontological claim to an aesthetic sensibility , I recall , as a child , my fascination with the performance gestalt of the Barnum & Bailey 3-Ring Circus , the astonishing precursor to what I ’ ve come to recognize as
modality , a Pathway to Ritual Improvisation , whereas the sum of disparate actions coalesce into a singularly whole dramatic experience , the background — an amalgam of disjointed choric responses of the audience — becoming phenomenally as important to the overall impact of the event as the foreground where action was focused with lights . The performance mode was conducted by the Ring Master , who orchestrated the simultaneous actions of goliath dancing Pachyderms that dwarfed Clowns shot from cannons while Acrobats flew in the air on trapezes — bringing to mind the innovative conductivity system of the masterful Butch Morris , whose improvisatory , unscripted orchestrations achieved a quality of spontaneity in the performance of large jazz ensembles . The gestalt of this spectacle of apparently divergent parts coalesced into a cohesive performance mode that was dynamic and compelling as a singular , whole , experience .
I found my way into theatre practice soon after completing my graduate studies in Gestalt Psychology and Phenomenology at the New School for Social Research in New York . It was during those studies that I encountered the work of 20th Century German philosopher , Martin Heidegger , a seminal contributor to the discourse of Phenomenology , and discovered the tendency of human behavior to organize perceived discrete phenomena into whole patterns with concrete meanings , a phenomenon that Heidegger described as “ the tension of emerging and not emerging ” in an umwelt , or otherwise an experiential field , a matrix , even a mode . In his view of art through a lens of “ ontological endowment ” — a refutation of art-for-art-sake with a view toward the benefits for humanity that echoes the moral-philosophical tradition of African art — he challenged artists with the ontological response-ability to be less concerned with representation ( documentation of experience being the purview of the photo journalist ) and give attention to excavating from the inexhaustible shapes hidden in the tension of “ earth ” and “ world ” the myriad of contours lines , circles and breaks that feed traditional historical communities with forms and designs that are intelligible and promotes a dynamic transformation of the community . Art , then , as well as the emergence of beauty , was the unending creative struggle to maintain an inner-tension that allows humanity to participate in the unfolding of history through images that emerge and not emerge , luring the viewer into a light that recedes into darkness , keeping alive the compelling experiential field , or umwelt , or mode , to reveal , in time , that which resonates as intelligible for the viewer / beholder .