24 August 2010

The Metaglyphical Hereafter


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A telephone exchange:

“You like oysters, boss?”
Sure.
“I’ve got a spot over here for you. We can watch the boats sink.”
Okay.
“I’ll let you hold the bomb.”
Thanks.
“Do you know anyone at the Smithsonian Institute?”
Working on that one.
“You need to talk to someone in the Department of Space.”
Okay.
“The Andromeda Galaxy is going to be here in 5 million years. It will consume this galaxy.”
Uh-oh.
“This means something to me.”
Of course.
“It’s sending a master blaster radio cloud ahead of itself.”
When?
“That one will be here in 10,000 years.”
Shit.
“I know it’s a little far off, but you might want to take a look at it.”
And finish my book before it happens?
“EXACTLY!”

- via Dave Tompkins [ # ]


* * * * * *


"I don't do music all the time because I'm too busy writing operas. In the next 3 or 4 years you're going to see me put them on. Gothic opera with many insects. The operas are called gothic futurism and one's about 17 surgical assassins that kill planets and these guys have certain parts of their bodies cut off and had mechanisms put on. Like what I'm wearing. ... This is a gash-o-lear, it takes the AM and FM sound waves in the air and shoots them through the front. ... Sorry. This is drag strip shit. Once we turn that tape on for 22 minutes 14 seconds, it is nonstop speed, and every album from this one is going to get FASTER."

- interview, c. 1988 [ # ]

* * * * * *


Jeezus. I was in some kind of hole of my own digging and eventually crawled out to learn that I'd missed the news of Rammellzee's passing by over a month. A few passing thoughts that come to mind, by way of a belated, sketchy parting salute...

[[ Speaker dons helmet/headdress of paint-marker missiles, curb feelers, and half-melted Micronauts. Clears throat. Ahem... ]]

* * * * * * * *


As a crazy wisdom master supreme, Rammellzee surpassed those who came both before and after him. Those who followed in his wake? Kool Keith and M.F. Doom, for starters. Those who came before? The Afrofuturist triumvirate of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and Lee 'Scratch' Perry.1 Rammellzee was loosely considered heir to that legacy, said to have extended that inventive trinity's lineage by bringing it into hip-hop era. But there's a couple of problems with that equation. It's an unstable formula, the canon does not add-here.

Sun Ra's interstellar highways, Clinton's mothership connection, Perry's black ark...each a post-"space age" riffing off of the Exodus/"sweet chariot" metaphoric trope; throwing in for good measure a little bit of retooled mythology loosely derived, extrapolated and transmutated from Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad. Rammellzee, however, doubled down on the neo- mythological biz, and in doing so inverted the entire thrust of the prior narrative. But rather than going upward and outward, of seeking deliverance and redemption by way of vacating the planet, we will instead burrow down into the belly of the beast, into the culture of the here-now and disassemble it from within -- decoding its sundry systems, its transmissions of meaning and information, by way of esoteric morphologies & alternate histories, phantastic equations & competing pseudo-sciences. In this respect, Ramm's program was like post-colonial studies prefigured in advanced, and then flipped two centuries into a post-apocalyptic cityscape. Like who the fuck is this Jack Derrida, reputed tagmaster killa? That toy hasn't thrown up any burners in my area that I've seen. / And that sucker MC Darth Vader, he has no breath control...no breath control...







Whereas Ra and Clinton and Perry might've absorbed and extended the narratives of judeo-christian First World culture, Rammellzee opted for straight-up reanimated gnosis.2 Back to the sub-catacombs, to get hyperglyphic and to fortressize and armor oneself in the castoffs of junk culture, junk science, junk-speak, etc.3

Most significantly, Rammellzee doesn't share or fully follow in that Ra/Clinton/Perry legacy due to one major difference. He wasn't a maestro or impresario. He went out of his way to avoid attracting or recruiting or orchestrating disciples. Instead he retreated into his own reclusive sphere -- foregoing "cult" figurehood for an occultish existence. Effectively, being an "outsider" artist in a two-fold sense. Infrequent recording appearances, selling his art on an international but off-radar basis, and pretty much scrambling the circuits of everyone's sense-making capabilities on those occasions that he emerged in public. In that way, he insured his own obscurity while building his own mythic persona layer by layer; but it was all brilliant and wonderfully confounding to experience over the years, in the most inspiring of ways. I'm inclined to say an artistic entity of that type only comes around once in a lifetime.


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1. By now, this might seem like an obvious grouping by now -- dots too easily connected. But see how John Corbett originally fleshed it out in his "Brothers From Another Planet" essay of many years ago, as reprinted in this collection.
2. Invoking gnosticism, I mean this in the most heretical / inverted cosmologic / Philip K. Dick exegetic headfuck sense of the term.
3. In an ever-expanding sacrificial economy, person and thing/subject and object become one -- fused. I could wax theoretical on this idea alone for quite some time, but nevermind.

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