This piece is one I wrote as part of a trilogy. I wanted to write about Janelle Monáe’s music with enough time and space to capture everything I saw, everything I thought, and everything I thought she was/is doing. This is the first, about Metropolis Suite, and it’ll just work with this album. Each piece is devoted to one album, and I plan to work toward a final, fourth piece about Wondaland as an idea, as a symbol, and as a collective for the imaginative kind of space and time that we might get/have if we devote ourselves not only to a limited, positivistic afrofuturist framework, but also to a relentless analysis, a sitting with and a bearing of water (s/o to Mackala Lacy), of the trauma that positions and figures Black life and death, and their trajectories through the universe.
I spent a lot of time with this, and with the other two. The one on The Archandroid will come out soon. I promise.
So, here we go. Be patient, and give me time. It’s a difficult and winding, experimental journey. But I promise that it’s worth it.
Part 1 – Apocalypse Suite: Overture
John Murillo III
The forthcoming, and all before and else, will be—and so, has been, and is—in a Fanon-thinking-about-and-so-blackening-Marx’s-thought sense, “poetry from the future,” or, better, “poetry [preposition] the future.”
“It is a formal (“poetry,” with its associated lyricism and fragmentation) and temporal (“from the future”) disruption, which functions primarily at the level of affect in ways that resist narration and qualitative description. It is a felt presence of the unknowable, the content of which exceeds its expression and therefore points toward a different epistemological, if not ontological and empirical, regime” (Kara Keeling, “Looking for M—”)
So I write in disruptive excess, feeling around in the dark, feeling the dark, in which I tumble, in which we vertiginously tumble—
And so I write with disruptive excess, feeling around in the dark, feeling the dark, in its embrace, embracing it, wondering—
And so I write as disruptive excess, feeling and feeling around in the dark, in and for love, looking for love, or where, when and what love might be—
And so I write disruptive excess, feeling, looking, for—and what I feel and see is electric, cybernetic, dark, and in it—
I write tumbling in the space of the attenuated membrane between two or three I’s. This is ergospheric drift: I move at light-speed in all directions so that I tumble in place, always moving in vertigo. One I looks out at and dances to/with the sonic funk-maths played by the Palace of the Dogs’ greatest patient in somewhere called Boston; one I struggles to orchestrate the appropriate cerebral electrics to speak/write what’s humming inside finging, tapping fingers; one I’s the ghost, the shadow, of a slave/black/android/alien/clone descendent, projected imaginarily into a futurity—neither afforded an objective reality, so both the stuff of dream.
Perhaps there are two or three more, prior to the first. One I sees the crown printed on a square encased in plastic, and the indescribable call of sonic promise in the eyes of the Archandroid demand purchase, demand engagement, demand entry into suites II and III; one I taps a foot at the wooden end of a bed to a newfound suite I; one I—
Supernumerary. Multidimensional tumbling is vertiginous and gyrospheric. The ball balled up at my core is a lullaby I hold as refrain I hold as base I hold as center of I’s—so, eyes closed, I go to it. Eyes closed, the I writing in reflection of I’s gone, here, and yet formed, fing-tapping keys in search of adequate electrics, listens.
And when the world just Treats you wrong Just come with us And we’ll take you Home Shang Shang Shang Shangri-La Na-na-na Na na Na na na-na-na Na…
The watchful lunacy of many moons looming, and what do lunas see—home? Lunatic lunar light from the satellite blacks of countless eyes beam out optic lasers screaming an ocularity, but what does collective luna see out in the dark beyond the bounds of Metropolis?
Translation: Be wary—every translation denotes a distension and mutilation of whatever order (unknown to the target and reason for the translation, but well known by the one capitulating to the process’ necessity); rewind. Translation/Distension/Mutilation: But even the most mutilating translation might emphasize something essential and aural to the what of what was originally spoken into the multiverse via the obliteration of the adornments and the summoning of a defensive refinement and reassertion of that essential/aural something, a more explosive re-release and hyperbolic dispersal of any particulate remnants in the way of this unnamable spirit; rewind. Re-release/Hyperbolic Dispersal: Who/what are ‘we’? Where/when are ‘we’ going? Who/what needs taking? Who/what takes? Where/when is Home? Or Shangri-La? How far in spacetime is it from Metropolis? Is Shangri-La Home? Isn’t it something beyond a return; is it out there in the dark? Translationdisperalmutilationrereleasedisspersal—error. Rebooting… Storing what is essential to drive (read: motivation; fuel) and drive (lexicon; rememory banks)… Rebooting… Processing… Booting “Metropolis Suite” from essential storage… Loading… Search Query: “Who/What are ‘we’?” Retrieving results… Retrieving… Found.
Entry 1. Re: Android 57821, aka Cindi Mayweather, aka “The Archandroid,” clone descendent of one, Janelle Monáe, patient #57821 in the Palace of the Dogs Musiquarium, previously “snatched, genoraped, and de-existed” (Max Stellings, Archandroid notes) in the year 2719—reasoning: threat to Great Divide’s authority. A story absent logical sense to those whose neurons fire at a rate and voltage not appropriately tuned to the string-vibrations and sonic-ripples produced by a black womyn from 2719 (or any black from any time, for that matter) about her black android clone descendent of the same year (or any black descendent) in/from Metropolis (or anywhere) details Cindi Mayweather’s fugitivity to Metropolises system maintained by agents—the Droid Marshals who perform what 21st century folk might understand to be “policing,” and mobs of complicit, acquiescent, and faithful anti-antihuman citizens wielding “electro-daggers and chainsaws.”
Pause. Rewind. Logical sense. “Logical sense” (Max Stellings, Archandroid notes); new sub-search query. Relevant/resonant material located aural to synaptic region 8142001B. Temporally first sub-entry:
Frank B. Wilderson III. 2010. The black is the slave. The black occupies the ontological position of the slave. Slave narrative is an oxymoron. The slave and narrative cannot cohere; the “logical” progression of a narrative in the world does not cohere to the slave anymore than do gender, sexuality, class, or any namable quality or identification.
Second entry/sub-sub-entry, the first:
Hortense Spillers. 1987; 2003. A mama and a baby and a papa and a maybe and a question. There is a symbolic order in the world/of the world/as the world—the world moves through/with/as/for/in/[preposition] and was/is/will be this symbolic order. This symbolic order wrote with black blood from black bodies they symbols it needs to write/think/feel/be. These symbols are and are inspired by the angular and curved contortions black corpses make when fixedly splayed, or spaghettified and rearranged, in a social, physical, psychic and metaphysical rigor mortis meant to spell out the terms and conditions of life and freedom in the world, for the world, as the world, [preposition] the world. On the contorted, popped open, unevenly atomized or spaghettified black flesh/minds/being(s) is written a “primary narrative” cauterized via whipping and slashing processes of tattooing and scarification. The primary narrative is in the pre-view; it is vestibular; it precedes the first; it is prelogical. In and of it are the sentence fragments, broken words, illegible utterances, moans, cries, ululations, silences, gaps, stops, and so on, strung together by the grammatical constraints and conditions (read: logics) of the symbolic order. Black flesh holds and is the primary narrative, and the condition of possibility for the symbolic order (read: the world) to exist. Black flesh, then, is the fact from which fictions are made.
Third entry/sub-sub-entry, the second: Frantz Fanon. 1952.
Simply the title of a chapter: “The Fact of Blackness.” Eyes linger on Fact.
Fingers tap; eyes closed. Computing… Archiving…
Entry 1 continued: What is desired from the Archandroid is “her” cyber-soul. That essential thing encapsulated in fabricated flesh (but what flesh is not fabricated by something or Someone—Him, to some, to me; Them, to others; X, in excess of (pro)nounal reference or description to many); that essential thing encapsulated within black flesh, manufactured as such—the process, “pornotroping” (Spillers, 1987; 2003)—android or clone or slave (not that, when blackness enters the mix, any of these are distinct) or not or all. The lack of narrative, logical sense, to those who ascribe to the world, to Metropolis—rather, the anti-narrative produced by patient #57821 re: Android 57821 opens with the everyday hunting of black (android) flesh for the sake of the spirit (of blackness, cybertronic or not) as a miniscule reward for the maintenance of and allegiance to a not-so-secret society’s system that apparently turns on the absolute disavowal of relations between antihumans (blacks and androids share this status; no wonder that Cindi Mayweather is a slave/black/patient’s descendent/clone, both black and android) and all others, especially anything resembling what 21st century folk might call “love.” This is a hunt of/for dangerous, mythic property on the run, running in (the name of) “love;” this is a hunt for antihuman love and the essence that drives and moves the thingly nothing flesh with the symbolic order’s primary written on it. Entry 1’s title: “March of the Wolfmasters”—the Masters (a political ontological designation) and the wolves (their junior partners) marching to a futurity too close and resonant to the present not to be haunting, not to be terrifying. The sonic movement behind the expository words of the entry seems to capture that aurality aurally.
Entry 2: We hear her voice as her voice for the first time. Her first words provide an answer of sorts; a confirmation of the first entry’s meditations of other sorts. They wet the appetite for more.
I-I-I-I’m an alien from outer-space
I’m a cyber-girl without a face, a heart, or a mind
(I’m a product of the metal, I’m a product of metal, I’m a product of the man)
See, see, see, see, see
I’m a slave girl without a race (without a race)
On the run ‘cause they’re to erase and chase out my kind
They’ve come to destroy me (they’ve come to destroy me)
And I think to myself
Pause. Fingers fing and tap. Electric movement across regions, cortices, convolutions, and fissures of pink and gray matter; whirring, something, furious. Faceless. Mindless. Heartless. Merely an enfleshed (and broken, destructive) primary narrative encapsulating a dark and essential spirit. Produced, which is to say, pornotroped, by the symbolic order and its agents wielding its power to name (and unname); body to flesh, face to faceless, heart to heartless, mind to mindless, thing to nothing, cyber-girl to slave; symbolic-alchemical transmutation toward blackness, an obliteratingly unequivalent exchange.
But without a race?
Sub-search query: “Blackness without a race.” One entry found:
Nicholas Brady. 2013; forthcoming. Private entry; pre-publication. Blackness as precedential to race; as race’s condition of possibility. Blackness as an excess to—blackness in excess of and prior to—blackness as race’s internal essence, and external aura, like the dark matter and energy believed to be so foundational to the cohesion, variability, organization, gravity, and existence of all the different planets, systems, clusters, and galaxies, and their relations/orientations to one another, and the universe that binds them, and the system of multiverse in which the universe twirls, and—blackness as not, or not precisely race. Blackness marks/makes the slave; black is slave; Cindi Mayweather, slave, black—understood.
An alien; a cyber-girl; a black. Blackened alien; blackened cyber-girl; black. Slave. On the run from the world’s agents of destruction to a mythical nowhere that exists as the mythos and dream encapsulated in the title, “Archandroid,” its crown, and all it signifies toward love and freedom as possibilities (and let us not conflate possibilities for capacities).
Impossibly, wait it’s impossible
They’re gunning for me (that they’re gunning for you)
And now the army’s after you
(And now they’re after you)
For lovin’ too
Uh huh and all the sirens go, “Doo doo”
“Doo doo, doo doo, doo dooo”
(Doo oo oo oo ooo oo)
Oh baby, ooh
You know the rules
(I love you and I won’t take no for an answer)
Pause. Finging; tapping. Electric imaginative currents.
The internal psychic operations or machinations of an android on the run, in this beginning that is a, or begins via/as a rupture (Spillers), in this beginning that begins in disequilibrium (Wilderson), a beginning that begins again and again or rebegins, from, and without end (Farley); the psychic operations of the black/slave/android/clone, mythic as she/it is, caught up in and stricken by the ‘rupturous’ disequilibrium that defines her/its antinarrative, written on her/its flesh, coded. Impossiblity—how can this happen? How can they gun for me? Subtended and preemptively answered by the question, “Who/what am I?”—slavecybergirlblackmyth, faceheartmindraceless, antihuman with a black essence and aura, and—and you—you, too. You/I form a form of “we.” The urgency of distorted strings and choral voices reaches a clarion peak behind this realization; the music speaks (to) truths. This is the refrain of those who are in perpetual exile, ceaselessly hunted, always black.
The pronounal collective traced by the internal(ized) disequilibrium of Cindi Mayweather, the Archandroid, through the vocal chords of Janelle Monáe, her/its clone antecedent suggests a singular, particular “we” unified by the same (not similar) designations: black/slave/android/antihuman, singing the same internal refrain—with perhaps different verses—at the experience of the initiating internal and external, essential and aural, disequilibrium elemental to those designations, which are the amalgamated names approximating the antihuman’s structural position (which is, not coincidentally, the black’s position). Subject to the sonic subjugation of the same militarized (armed) force’s sirens—signals of fear, pain, doom giving chase, doom looming, decimation on the prowl, always on the prowl, hungry for black blood and flesh, vampiric. This is the rule, the grammar, forwarded by the agents that embody, are cloaked by, and are in allegiance to, the symbolic order that demands and needs black flesh to be fungible for the feasting. Carnivores leading carnivores of a lower order; Masters leading wolves; and “we” know the rules.
They say that Violet Stars will set you free (set you free)
When you’re running lost and alone
Following them down up Neon Valley Street (up Neon Valley Street)
A pretty day makes a pretty picture
But fall in love and they’re coming to get ya
Who knew ten men with guns were at the door (at the door)?
The droid control! (THE DROID CONTROL)
Urgency in the echoic shout, rising, rising—they’re here, they’re here. Dreams of, or remembrances of soon-to-be-lost possibilities captured by, Violet Stars radiating guidance through the dark of night sky’s unforgiving dark—to where? Shangri-La? Why Violet? Cold and distant, or warm and radiant, or all, or none? A seed planted; a thought growing; but another question presses on, and the promise of a better approach to an answer or set of answers might appear in a forthcoming entry. Disequilibrium and the chaotic movement and urgency it ripples through the inner and outer of the slave/black/android/antihuman casts eyes simultaneously inward and outward toward the remembrances and futurities, however unconfirmed, that can fuel the fire, keep the feet moving, keep the gears turning, toward something. 21st century folk might call this “hope,” recognizing its lack of objective value (Marriott/Wright), or at the very least, note the excess elemental to what is a spiritual figuration—in excess to logic (narrative or otherwise), naming, grammar, etc.
That refrain plays again. Disbelief at the déjà vu experience of disequilibrium. Disequilibrium is singular (read: singular to blacks), but happens again and again; beginning in rupture, beginning itself is ruptured, and so is its binary with ending; disequilibrium rebegins (Farley) without having previously ended, again and again, and the process is one of rediscovery (Spillers). What is unearthed, again, and again, is the familiar, but always shocking, always unbelievable brutalization written on the flesh and on the minds and on the beings of blacks. What is shocking, precisely, probably, is the re-recognition of the self as such—a re-recognition of blackness itself, of blackness of the self, of how blackness precedes and exceeds the self, of how blackness obliterates selfhood altogether—terrifying, on a psychic level, at the very least. Again and again, rewound, on repeat, whatever.
Whispers in search; whispers in search; Searching… Searching… Whispers at the door— Whispers at the breach— She’s out the window, She’s out the window
An announcement interrupts and welcomes Cindi Mayweather’s voice via Janelle Monáe’s (perhaps hey have the same voice; their vocal chords are genetically interchangeable); a fourth-wall breaking potentially inner potentially outer call summoning forth a sonic defiance only Mayweather/Monáe could speak; as I/you, for I/you; for “we” who know the position all too well.
I said I love my baby so! (Impossibly, they’re gunning for me)
I said I love my baby so! (and now the Pawn is after you)
And he loves me, too! (for loving, too)
He loves me, too! Loves me too!
(Sirens go doo doo
doo doo doo doo doo doo)
I said “Oh!” (You know the rules)
I said “Oh! Oh, baby!”
(Impossibly, they’re gunning for me, and now the Pawn is after you,
for loving, too
Sirens go doo doo…)
So many voices overlain; so many voices converge, the refrain juxtaposed with the defiance, both intelligible and intelligibly urgent; the “we” is there, the “we” is clear. En route. Guided by Violet Stars surrounded by the dark, black expanse. Toward something, or nothing, or somenothing; urgently hurtling toward somenothing. Entry 2, labeled: “Violet Stars, Happy Hunting!”
Advanced Search Query: Add, “Where/when might “we” be going?” Reads: “Who/what might “we” be? Where/when might “we” be going?” Refining search… Found.
Entry 3/1: A note to linger at the title at some point. “Many Moons.” A spatiotemporal designation of a strange kind: on the one hand, a spectral “to come” or “ago” after “Many Moons” suggests a long and otherwise nonspecific, but clearly lengthy, amount of time having passed, or that will/must pass, the passing phases of the moon acting as a particularly celestial, cosmic kind of clock; on another, a spatial recognition of many celestial bodies as measurements of a spatial, interplanetary, interstellar, or intergalactic distance—“Many Moons” away; another, a spatial recognition of several (read: many) physically or apparently present celestial bodies, satellites in orbit to something with greater gravitational force than they, combining into an alien image of a world/planet/place unimaginable, perhaps a destination of many names (one of which might be Shangri-La) at the end of a path composed of Violet Stars (a slave/black/android yellow brick road to a blackened and far less imaginable emerald city). On yet another, if taken together, the distended temporality of an ‘already having happened long ago’ running concurrent with a ‘yet to come in the distant future’ reflects an attenuation elemental to Monáe’s anti-logical anti-narrative: 1954, as a spacetime, as an army (Max Stellings); and 2719, the year of the Archandroid’s manufacture, and the year of Monáe’s de-existing-. It also, attenuating the temporality of the anti-narrative and its participants, attenuates the when (and where) of the possibility of (not capacity for) seeking out and inhabiting this unimaginable place at the end of Violet Star Road; or, at least, it elongates the spacetime of existence, suggesting that this place has been fought for (and has thereby existed) for/since “Many Moons” (ago), and it will be fought for (and will thereby exist) for “Many Moons” (to come)—who knows, some might have found this marooned colony, and some might find it again.
Sub-search query: “Spacetime, Blackness.” Entry located; neural drive, region 9188801G.
John Murillo III. 2012; forthcoming. Extracting relevant excerpt.
“This spatiotemporal attenuation manifests as a critical stoppage in the form an infinite loop. A cross-section of time and space, slavery, rends space and time such that time and space “after” this cross-section remain interrupted by, or, better yet, overlain with slavery. This is the second instance. Time and space no longer show movement because of this overlay, this loop—we watch snake devouring itself from the tail over and over again. The image of shivering slaves aspiring to be shit in snow continues to resonate, continues to emerge in the demands of the petulant children, continues to irrupt into the image of the present (of the story, interrupting the conversation between the children and the old wise daughter of slaves as a fiery demand; of the Nobel lecture, irrupting aesthetically and psychically from Morrison’s lips and in the (brutal) imaginations of any audience, “then,” “after,” and “now”) like cold ghosts left quivering in a cryogenic quantum position of political and ontological death. The membrane between slave and black collapses into this political-ontological overlay, and the spectacle becomes unremarkable in its absoluteness and inevitability; it is the spectacular made quotidian via the circularity of the singularity of black political ontological exile. Haunting.”
Sub-entries include: Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” 1987/2003; Toni Morrison, “Nobel Lecture,” 1993. Seek reference for more detail.
Play. The riff of drums and keys funking together, harkening back to “Pinball Number Count,” Sesame Street, and the Pointer Sisters, maintains the urgency of Entry 2 whole adding a haunted/horror element to it. The sirens, sung, become ghastly/ghostly in what is not a process of reclamation performed by a fugitive agent, or by fugitive agents in a collective, but by an acceptance of what appears to be the permanence of being hunted, being black, transmuted into a blackening that is in excess of and aural to agency itself. Somenothing else altogether.
Let it play.
We’re dancing free, but we’re stuck here, underground
(Boo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo dododo)
And everybody’s trying to figure they way out
(Boo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo dododo)
Hey, hey, hey!
All we ever wanted to say
Was chased, erased and then blown away
And day to day we live in a daze
We just march all around ‘til the sun goes down
Broken dreams, no sunshine, endless crimes
We long for freedom
You’re free but in your mind,
Your freedom’s in a bind
Pause. The sirens seep into what’s spoken, rhythmically and melodically interject as reminders that the hunt is on, that the fugitivity—if that is the word to use—is always. What’s spoken affirms what’s been said, emphasizes the need for escape guided by Violet Stars toward the unknowable place (that might be) “Many Moons” (spatiotemporally) away. It affirms the rhythmic march of “we” night children beneath those stars, in search of, and longing for, freedom somewhere in the dark cosmic expanse—where Shangri-La might (or might not) be. This struggle of the between, a state of being that if splayed out and split between looming doom’s actuality and the desire for freedom unimaginably far from ascertainment materializes in the choral and aurally ethereal or spectral reminder; this state of being betwixt both, and so fractured, and so moving with cracked hulls/shells, and so broken/breaking. Somenothing breaks out:
Oh! Make it rain, ain’t a thing in the sky to fall
(The silver bullet’s in your hand and the war’s heating up)
And when the truth goes BANG!, the shouts splatter out
(Revolutionize your lives and find a way out)
And when you’re growing down instead of growing up, now
(You gotta “ooh, ah ah” like a Panther)
Tell me are you bold enough to reach for love
La la la lalalala…
The skies are clear; the stars won’t fall; the path is set; the war’s heating up—this is war, black life is at war with Metropolis, with the world. What is at stake is real/material (silver bullets, guns, electro-daggers, chainsaws, wolves, and patrols) and real/symbolic (the truth that must explode outward) and it must be amplified by the shouts of “we,” night children, slaves/blacks/androids, splattering out like ink on paper or screens, paint on canvases, blackness across the mind, blood on the ground. This is in response to the desire to reverse the negative effects of the heightened gravity experienced by “we” who grow down instead of growing up and who seek to grow outward toward “love.” Animated by the spirit of somenothing black trying to explode to reach out to love at the end of a violet stellar highway toward a distant and unimaginable marronage that might not even exist. “We” who must seek out, hurl ourselves into, and tumble vertiginously through the airless dark—for freedom, for freedom—or at least its possibility. The rhythm becomes more clarion behind the receding tides of organs and choral singing, for a moment, for a moment an opening, for a moment an opening into a consideration of what came before, a moment for reflection.
For so long
All I wanna do is sing my simple song
Square or round,
Rich or poor,
At the end of day and night, all we want is more
I keep my feet on solid ground
And use my wings, and use my wings when storms come around
I keep my feet on solid ground
You’re free, but
in your mind
Your freedom’s in a bind
And the refrain, here, plays again: clear, dark skies; violet stars suspended in perpetuity; path set; war. Betweenness is always key, between earth and sky, between the messages of the terrestrial vibrations—where and when the hunters hunt, how they do it—and the ethereality of stellar guidance in the dark of the sky, and what might or might not revolve somewhere in a distant elsewhere unimaginable to minds bound in and by this betwixtness. The enunciation of the reminder shifts, and what remains ghastly/spectral is the reminder that bondage persists; the urgency and desperation of the escape rises, and the refrain explodes outward with more vigor, more force, more soul, cyber or not, but black, for certain.
A cybertronic chant of couplets outlining the constituency, evoking images, summoning and emphasizing the needs, goals, causes, and iterations of this revolutionary movement toward the dark sky along the violet, stellar path. It is a letter, sent; generalizable in that its addressees both walk with, and hunt for, the Archandroid that speaks them—a singular message from slave/black/android lips, captured in images that, themselves, reveal the shape and content of who/what “we” are, when/where “we” go, and, maybe, in an implicit way, why “we” are and go.
And then a lullaby, and then “we” return to the beginning, we rebegin again, and the lunas seeing, the lunacy, the lunar sea between here and there, and then now and later. A call “we” make. To take each other, and the fellow ceaselessly weary, hurt, and broken slave/black/androids whose ears and eyes know too well the frequency on which Mayweather/Monáe cast their spectral-ethereal musical message. The unifying call that marks and names the destination with the mythos it is and needs, that recognizes the undying pain of the “we” of slaves/blacks/androids that continues to expand out into the airless vacuum of the dark guided by violet stars.
And when the world just treats you wrong,
Just come with me, and I’ll take you home,
No need to pack a bag
Who put your life in the danger zone?
You runnin’, droppin’ like a rolling stone
No time to pack a bag
You just can’t stop the hurt from hanging on;
The old man dies and then a baby’s born
Chan, chan, chan, change your lifeAnd when the world just Treats you wrong Just come with us And we’ll take you Home Shang Shang Shang Shangri-La Na-na-na Na na Na na na-na-na Na…
Leave it all behind, no bags packed; no bags packed, no more time; pain and hurt cling and last for lifetimes and generations; fugitivity rolls on and on and on and on; the only change to want is this change, “our” change; so, come with us, and we’ll take you home, mythical home, in and through the dark by way of unending violet light.
Come with us.
Entry 4: A vague entry. Quoted entirely as is from the archive.
The ‘Cybertronic Purgatory’ through which we slaves/blacks/androids must pass is an acceptance of the need to dwell psychically, physically, and metaphysically in the zone of nonbeing, the unknowable dark of the expansive and unimaginable void. Tumbling violently, perhaps; perhaps drifting in a non-acquiescent acceptance deeper and deeper into the dark knowing that, if a spacetime as, or via, an upheaval might be born, it is this way. Perhaps sound, here, is as if underwater, oscillating and echoic; our chant is one echoic to the cybertronic, stellar voice of the stars guiding us. An ethereal and rippling message through the void to one another, and amplified toward a spacetime that, if there, even if “Many Moons” away temporally and spatially, might (or might not) hear our vertiginous call: ‘And I’ll be with you/My love, my love.’ A message to love itself, a message to love manifest in the Shangri-La to which we hope we drift, a message to love in the drift itself
Entry 5: A short entry; its locus, a (rhetorical) question and a call. The question is printed countless times, in countless fonts, sizes, over about a thousand pages; it was extracted from what appear to be, at first glance, black pages.
Are we really living or just walking dead now?
Or dreaming of a hope riding the wings of angels?
Pause. Rewind. Over and over again. Mobius rumination—fingers finging, tapping; eyes, lunas, seeing into a blurry elsewhere; lunacy. And then a chant buried underneath; a call through observation of fact.
The way we live,
The way we die,
What a tragedy, I’m so terrified
Please wake up,
We can’t sleep no more
The first invocations of “we” marking a totalizing collective unified by the shared designation: slave/black/android. “We” subject to tragedy and terror; “we” walking dead, dreaming of/in a dark and unknown and unimaginable ethereality; all of “we.” The second invocation of “we” a call aimed at those who remain asleep and unable to bear witness to the call, to the stars, to the place we might or might end up, to the necessity of at least the drift away and into the dark; those dreaming different dreams, not in the dark, but in the day(light), the daydreamers too caught up to join the ranks of night children. The second is a call guided by the hope to enfold it into the first; to grow the collective “we” who dream darkly as the walking dead who stay woke.
Open: Word Processor Blinking cursor. Fingers finging, hovering. Mind adrift. Words, an ocean. Lunacy, tidal.
All this can be is an opening. Cindi Mayweather/Janelle Monáe ‘both’ appear driven to relay this sonic antinarrative across all of spacetime by the spirit of an essential and aural blackness, “returned” to by what will be the refrain of these suites on her/their suites—or, better, a refrain that begins and rebegins, without ever having disappeared or ended, again and again and again.
Who/what might “we” be? Slave/Black/Droid But what might a droid be? When/where might “we” be going? Home Shangri-La Or is the drift itself what must be sought out? What might love be? Is it the want and move to dark drift; is that enough to know? Is it the where/when we’re headed? Or is it the essence and aura of these questions and their asking? For the power to pose the question Is The greatest power of all.
And this refrain is the animus behind a serious meditation on patient 57821’s cybertronic antinarrative, what it suggests, what it wants, what it needs; what she/they suggest, want, need; what “we” want, need, are. And it indicates via a reach in all directions in the midst and embrace of vertiginous tumbling within the interstitial, membranous space suturing multiples spacetimes–theres, thens, nows, heres, yets, aways–via many arms extended toward a dreamt-of destination or direction, an always present, essential and aural, somenothing else that might, or might not be, where/when we end up, wherever/whenever we’re going, if we go at all.
In essence and aura, and in the name of the essence and aura, this opening opens “us” into the project of “real love” we so seek, toward/in which vertiginously hurtle, and for which desperately cry, sing, dance, moan—or, fundamentally, move, and make noise.
So the song will continue, the violet stellar path lit, the darkness recognized as it is, the blackness known to be essential and aural, and the driving animus animating the decaying flesh of the dream-walking dead is on repeat.
Under the "we" lunacy of "we" I's like a sea of optic lunas— of tidal lunas, seeing— Let’s keep it moving Toward/in the where/when of the might be, with the might, condensed in and vibrating reality's strings in the night sky drift and the violet light guiding with the unimaginable tenor of a line of questioning tethering "we" to at least but, maybe—maybe in many moons, we'll know for sure— each other The next suite’s door cracks open. Processing…
John Murillo III is a PhD student in the English department at Brown University, and a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, with bachelor’s degrees in Cognitive Science and English. His research interests are broad, and include extensive engagements with and within: Black Studies–particularly Afro-Pessimism–Narrative Theory; Theoretical Physics; Astrophysics; Cosmology; and Neuroscience. He is currently at work on a novel, Dark Matter, and on a graphic novel of the same name. Find him on Facebook or Twitter.