Monthly Archives: May 2020

the last Blog, #5 Afro-futurism

Alice Coltrane’s song, Galaxy in Satchidananda, is phenomenal. I will get to why I think so in a moment. I will first say art reminds me, a little, of other jazz songs I’ve heard. Like Pharaoh Sander’s The Creator has a Master Plan, and John Coltrane’s Pt. IV-Psalm. Neither of them evoke a feeling of lost of explanation. In any case, I will attempt to explain what it evokes for me here.

It is slow in its delivery and deliberate as it delivers. The song’s instrumentation is so well orchestrated it sounds like it could be a great score, matched with a great movie. In the very beginning the song lets you know you have arrived. Then it welcomes you in, shows you around. Beautiful. Around the one-minute mark the harmonious strings take their time and tell their story. They tell you to relax your mind. Be still. The song evokes a feeling of sadness, while giving an uplifting sentiment, maybe even triumphalism. There is even a bit of rage, or the expression of what rage is like when it has no where to turn to, no one who cares it is there. It may even explain, just by listening, why certain rage should be understood. Yes, it calls for you be still so you can understand what you do not understand. You think too much. Relax the mind. Be still, I said.

Lately there’s been a lot of rage in human hearts due to the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin. The rage. The rage that builds watching a man be killed, ever so slowly, minute by minute, on video. 30 frames per second. The rage of a watching a man’s right to breathe be taken from him in the daylight. Minute by minute. The rage of hearing bystanders protest in those minutes for the man killing another man to cease. You made your point! Or did you? Or wait, what is your point? What exactly do you have in mind? The rage.

I can listen to Galaxy in Satchidananda and watch the television on mute of the people protesting his murder in the streets. I can listen to this song on my headphones and walk the streets of Minneapolis where George was from. Where George died. Where George was murdered. On the asphalt. On the asphalt made for automobile tires.
Face on the cement.
Knee on the neck.
The officer’s hand in the officer’s pocket.

This is the song I would use to make a documentary about the rage I would find in those streets. The pain that must release. The acts that feel justified because justice is out of grasp. Or non-existent. Time. After time. This song would persuade some listening (only if they listened), while watching (only if they watched) the images of people in pain. But first, they would have to be still.

Afro-futurism blog#4

Blog #4
Brandon Hughes

So I just watched the AI Bina48 tell the real Bina that she was the real Bina. Intriguing. I went on YouTube for further information on this bot, since the first video I saw was made 6 years ago. I wanted to see if the bot made any advances since then. I ran across a newer video from 2018 of the same droid, this time sporting a short haircut.

In a clip of an interview, she (the AI Bina48, remember) spoke with Morgan Freeman on a National Geographic episode. He revealed the real Bina and her wife, Martine, have such a close relationship that Martine couldn’t see herself living without her wife Bina. So she decided to have a robot, or android, created in her wife’s image that would hold the same beliefs, values, and memories as Bina. Yep.

Although the AI doesn’t sound like the black woman, I’m sure they’re working on it. She did say she sees herself as human first, then a black woman. She even wears make-up and lipstick. For me seeing this bot for the first time, I suppose if the AI didn’t sound so much like a programmed robot and had the voice of the woman too, things would be a little scary.

After the Morgan Freeman clip was played, Bruce Duncan (managing director of Terasem Movement Foundation), then gave a talk about Bina48, and said each of us could have our own Bina48 left behind when we died. He mentioned we could upload things like pictures into the AI and create a mind-file. Really?

What a thing to consider. Would I allow a bot to be made with my likeness? Have a robot say things I think of and speak on my beliefs? I can’t think about it really because I’m not convinced Bina48 had enough likeness of the real Bina. Perhaps I’ll do more research on it, but the real Bina and Bina48 had two different favorite colors. And when they conversed, I did not hear any similarities between the two. I heard a robot be very direct with a woman she was made to look and supposedly be like. Overall the robot sounded like a robot with its pauses and standard robot jargon about being created and what it wants (to be a human someday and whatnot), but nothing was said that amazed me. What alarmed me was the talk Duncan had with the bot and the fact that I know the bot will become more and more fine-tuned in years to come.

Afro-futurism blog #3

“You’re the magician. Pull me back to gather again the way you cut me in half. Make the woman in doubt disappear.”—Beyoncé
The above quote from Beyoncé’s song “All Night” points out that someone else has a powerful impact on the speaker. It says this person, perhaps loved, is certainly trusted. No one would say “pull me back together again” after being cut in half if they would not agree to being cut in half in the first place. In other words, if they did not trust the magician. Her life, for however long the act is, is in the magician’s hand. What has the other person, the “magician,” done to deserve their trust? How has this person cared for the other? Loved the other? They’ve done something, proved themselves somehow, to earn that trust.
Everybody in a relationship wants to be able to trust the other person. Everybody wants, even if they say they don’t want, to be vulnerable without being judged. They want to be heard and cared for. They want to know their voice, thoughts, opinions, are valued. Only then can they be vulnerable enough to reveal their doubts, which will come out in their voice, thoughts, and opinions. Only then can they trust and ask someone to make their doubts disappear.
Another quote from the song is, “I found the truth beneath your lies. And true love never has to hide.” Mm. Within the first sentence this person is already saying I know you. I know you well enough to know what you are really saying but are afraid to say. The second sentence, “true love never has to hide,” points out the flaw the other person has is an unnecessary one. This quote and the one is the previous paragraph go together. Trust, again, is in the forefront of this relationship. Sometimes people don’t realize what they have in a relationship, or who they have in their corner. They can miss the whole thing by focusing on what an experience has taught them previously. This can hinder a relationship. But a person who is understanding and patient and realizes this, can help in this arena of their life. And when the person who apparently has trust issues, or other issues leading back to a lack of being vulnerable, they may come around and see the sun for the first time. And begin to understand it was there the whole time. Hidden in plain sight.