/pairings

I’ll dispense with the ‘2020 has been the worst’ reiteration and cling to the ringing note of possibility in tomorrow, the remainder of this year, and all those years on the horizon.

Today I am pairing a cup of spearmint tea that was once piping hot and is now pleasantly lukewarm from the perspective of lip and tongue, local honey stirred in, Ted Hawkins’ Next Hundred Years album, and Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed.

I was first introduced to Octavia’s work 15 years ago. Reading Kindred I immediately fell in love with the orchestrated directness of her prose. Her chilling portrayal of grinding physical and psychological oppression in the Antebellum South is brought powerfully horrifyingly to life. I will never forget the sensation of reading this book for the first time. I will not spoil the story, you can find a copy here.

I am currently reading Wild Seed, fourth book in her Patternist series, and it unfolds from the page as if it is a myth passed along over many generations. It leaps between demigods and humans as they grapple with kindness, cruelty, necessity, and the alienation of time. The story strikes a razors edge tension between feeling ancient and feeling new at once. It can be found here.

An upcoming collection of Octavia’s work is available for preorder here.

I stumbled across Ted Hawkins while on a Spotify radio ramble. Biloxi began to play and I was drawn immediately inward. The album as a whole has since become a mainstay of my collection and a weekly listen. Ted has a way with emotion in song that haunts and captivates. In this instance the timbre of his voice and guitar match the tension in each of the novels above beautifully.

from Afrofuturism by Ytasha L. Womack

Afrofuturism – is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry.”

~Definition courtesy of the Tate UK

I am pairing Afrofuturism by Ytasha L. Womack with Ironheart by Evie Ewing and this bottle of sparkling wine from McBride Sisters Collection. The grapes come from New Zealand but the bubbly is made here in California just about an hour and a half from where I sit typing. A choice musical selection to pair is Gallant’s Tiny Desk Concert or just Weight in Gold on repeat. A second obvious musical pairing is Janelle Monae’s The Archandroid.

The ArchAndroid

For film explorations of the concept, both Black Panther and Into the Spiderverse are excellent. The This American Life podcast has also featured Afrofuturism.

Image from This American Life – We Are In the Future

My other recommendations are not so much pairings as of the moment, powerful, and painful. I’d suggest seeking out each individually, without distraction, in full absorptive mode:

I Am Not Your Negro on Prime or DVD

The collected works of James Baldwin from The Library of America

13th on Netflix or Digital Download

Akilah Hughes in regard to George Floyd from the What A Day podcast on 05.27.20

Breonna Taylor‘s murderers have still not been arrested. Act to resolve this here

Follow:

@rachel.cargle @akilahh @ibramxk @mspackyetti @iamtabithabrown

#amplifymelanatedvoices

Take care of yourselves and one another. Let’s keep going. Stand in solidarity and the gravity of us all together can be unstoppable.

“I want these three lives to bang against each other and reveal one another as in truth, they did. And use their journey as a means of instructing the people who they loved so much, who betrayed them and for whom they gave their lives.”

James Baldwin – On the Murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers

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