Orbiting dead worlds

When we ruminate on what we believe other people are thinking about us, it is almost as if our attention gives mass to these things, and since mass produces gravity, we find ourselves in the orbit of these notions, going over them again and again. As our attention persists, these thoughts take on the nature of a black hole, ultimately devouring us.

Instead we might consider the ultimate insubstantiality of such thoughts, that the power of such things is contingent upon our investments in them. They are not constitutive of reality. In fact we are often disconnected from reality when we allow our minds orbit worlds born of our anxieties and little else.

The Deep Thought of Jacob H. Carruthers on African Spirituality

Jacob H. Carruthers stated that within African spirituality we do not find a “ritual of dis-alienation”, that is a ritual to restore the connection between humanity and the divine. We do not find this because humanity was conceived as divine.
He explained that the practice of African spirituality in kmt was concerned with the practice of mAat–order, truth, righteousness. mdw nfr, or good speech was a means of this practice. mdw nfr when elevated to its highest form, became mdw nTr, or divine speech.
The centrality of mdw or speech within the spirituality of kmt was linked to the conceptualization of humanity’s maximal development. mdw was the mediator between thought and action. A controlled tongue reflected an ordered mind and moderation in action. As speech was a means of personal development, Carruthers stated that the person who had achieved their full potential possessed siA–exceptional insight, hw–a commanding tongue, and hkA–the ability to manifest their will in the world. These were not magical qualities but simply the consequence of self-mastery, that is living mAat.
Thus, Carruthers articulated a vision of African spirituality as a means whereby we 1) reoriented ourselves in time and space, 2) drew from the deep well of African wisdom and applied these lessons in our lives, 3) reclaimed an African worldview, and 4) transformed ourselves. Ultimately he posited that “We’re not going anywhere without African spirituality” or that our journey through the desert will be unending so long as we remain mired in the fundamental alienation of this culture which seeks to nurture the values of the wasteland within us.
In African spirituality Jacob H. Carruthers saw a path out of the desert, to a fertile valley, and to the restoration of African civilization.

Democracy, capitalism, socialism, and fascism

I wonder if folks have considered that so-called liberal democracy may have been an ephemeral mode of governance born of a unique convergence of industrial capitalism and increasingly irrelevant monarchies. Marx’s predictions of socialism’s inevitable ascendance notwithstanding, the seamless alignment of capital and the state has shown that other configurations do emerge.

While global capitalism resulted in a diminution of the state’s relevance and power, fascism promises both the states restoration, and the reconfiguration of capitalism along nationalistic lines. Hence if globalization has resulted in the disillusionment of the laboring masses of the world, fascism represents the illusory promise of a restoration to some imagined halcyon days of dignity or greatness.

Rehabilitating the deficient notion of Africa and African culture

Given the conceptual malaise that we face as a people, that is our being centered in the paradigms of other peoples, we have to be discerning regarding those knowledges which informs our work among our people. Some of us are deepening our alienation, rather than countering it.
The expression, “African solutions to African problems”, is not a mere abstraction when we seek to manifest it in all that we do. When we make African cultural knowledge primary we accomplish three things. First, we affirm the viability and legitimacy of African knowledge. Second, we teach others about African culture by empowering them to draw from it. Third, we rehabilitate the deficient notion of Africa and African culture which so afflicts the minds of our people.
For my part, I have attempted to be discerning regarding how I position African knowledges in my work. This has been with respect to the combat arts (as in teaching Capoeira), languages (as in promoting Swahili and mdw nTr), history, philosophy, and so on. It has not always been easy, but it has been and continues to be very necessary.

Dualistic thinking

The problems of dualistic thinking are manifold. It sustains the notion of a disjuncture between the self and other, when in fact these are often entangled.

Yes, I am not part of the air, but I breath the air. My use of an automobile subtly changes its molecular composition. The air supplies oxygen, a necessary element for my body’s functioning. Every exhalation contributes carbon dioxide to the air around me. The air and I are bound in a cycle of exchange which will continue until I cease to breathe.

I am not my children, or my wife, or my parents. Yet, I am clearly a part of all of them. For some this connection is biological (to my parents and children). For all, the context of shared experience reveals the myriad ways in which we are connected. Even for my father, from whom I was mostly estranged while growing up, his struggles with respect to exemplifying a compelling standard of manhood and to live ethically provide much of my determination to transcend his shortcomings. Thus even in his error, I have found inspiration and insight in his life. My journey is merely the continuation of his.

Indeed, there is no absolute disjuncture between these varied phenomenon. They are entangled.

Of late, much of my thinking about this has consisted of continued reflection on my practice of the arts, as they do not exist outside of me. At a certain point, they became a part of me. In fact, it was during a time when I attempted to take a much narrower perspective on the arts when I became more aware of the extent to which all of these experiences had shaped me, influenced how I perceived movement, and stimulated my thinking about the inextricable links between body and mind—a connection that combat training is supposed to augment. Further, I began to understand–perhaps unconsciously, that on the level of principle, I was not talking about Capoeira, or Choy Lay Fut, or Wing Chun, or this, or that–but circular arcs of movement, linear thrusts, lateral downward movement, sidestepping, flowing, intercepting, and on and on. I began to realize that the barriers between these arts were sustained not merely in the traditions that they embodied and their respective lineages, but that these had crystalized my mind. Thus my mind became the arbiter of an imagined disjuncture between these arts, it became the border guard policing the mental/physical territories that they were supposed to inhabit.

However, there are times when these mental crystals begin to crack, when the markings at the border have been obscured, when a greater awareness of  underlying principles blurred distinction, prompting a recognition of a sense of connection and unity. It is at these moments, when I have been most clear that when practicing these arts, I am not simply engaging in some discipline that exists external to me, but that they facilitate my embodiment of these underlying principles. Thus while the art exists as a particular type of kinesthetic tradition emerging out of its respective milieu, it is also a tradition that, when embodied, is expressed through me, one that becomes a part of me. And in so doing, removes the disjuncture between the practitioner and their practice. Ideally, the two become one.

Entangled endeavors

The process of re-Africanization, the need to heal ourselves, and the work of reality transformation are all interrelated. There is no disjuncture or hierarchy therein. They are concomitant endeavors, coterminous in their ends and implications.

What must be remembered is the critical need to draw upon African paradigms in these endeavors. As Jacob. H. Carruthers stated, “We cannot move our people by borrowing our foundations from other people.” This means that definitive movement consistent with our intended restoration of an African worldview, requires a deliberate engagement with African knowledges.

Many of us, like Sinuhe, have created homes for ourselves in foreign lands, but ultimately we must “return to the Black land”, that is reclaim our ancestral paradigms as a means of informing our cultural reclamation, our healing, and the transformation of the world.