post in three parts, goodbye, hello
Mingus says the shoes of the fisherman are some jive-ass slippers. On the other hand, The Shoes of the Fisherman is my favorite movie. A blog, I guess, is like an open session, a kind of tour of the sausage factory but without the divine intervention. Curtis Mayfield recorded New World Order flat on his back, phrase by phrase, crumb by crumb, singing in the absence of his voice, his guitar, which was in his hands, which he couldn’t move. You have to know all that to really understand how deep certain shit is: “Now is always the right time/To put something positive in your mind“ or “If there’s ever something bad you don’t wanna see/Just keep on walkin’ and let it be.” Nevertheless, divine intervention comes in the form of Aretha’s fills at the end of “Back to Living Again.” “Go ‘head, Mayfield!”
I want to see something else. Father Telemond, as he is questioned by the inquisition, says “Even God has not spoken the last word on his creation.” “I cannot renounce," he says, “this Christ I see any more than I can renounce the one on the cross.” The private revelation is a kind of gathering, a jam, a chapel. Logos is a block party. And the hope is that the revelation will have come more fully into relief by seeing how hard and how deeply you sought it out, the work you did in asking for it, the nastiness, the excess, the constant embarrassments (and I’m with Farid Matuk, who threads this up with pregnancy), the sklidge and bone.
I actually wrote Travis and Cathy to say I quit but then I started to feel bad, so here I am again, my apologies to them. People named Fred, and I know this from experience, have a tendency to wanna pat themselves on the back when they reveal another surreptitious instance of conquest, however fucking trivial. And this tendency is fueled, and even justified, by the serial denial of conquest, which can, evidently, take every possible form. I have no idea why this whole complex was, for me the last straw. I thought I was supposed to reveal the shit from which, for me, poetry emerges. But then I just got kinda tired of seeing the shit from which poetry emerges. Hopefully, no one will read this and, therefore, get the wrong idea. It’s not that the balance is so delicate in general, just for me. I have a mean streak wider than anyone who has ever blogged and the suppression of it causes too great an expense of energy or spirit or whatever. And I’d rather spend that energy making poems or, more generally, immersed in my enthusiasms. But whatever: the civil rights movement, the black freedom struggle, the unfinished project of abolition, was never so that black folk could be included in every stupid-ass thing, whether that be a collection of baby pictures or the white house. It was always, finally, about more than black people anyway, as history has deeply and constantly been bearing out since way before blacks ceased to be, by whatever narrow unit of measure, the largest minority in the U. S. It was about making another world; it was about the liberation of the other world in this one which, by the way, is what poetry is also about.
Fred Moten lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches at the University of California, Riverside. He is author of Arkansas (Pressed Wafer); In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press); I ran from it but was still in it. (Cusp Books); Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works); B Jenkins (Duke...