Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy – Robert Farris Thompson

“… Introduction: The Rise of the Black Atlantic Visual Tradition by Robert Farris Thompson. Listening to rock, jazz, blues, reggae, salsa, samba, bossa nova, juju, highlife, and mambo, one might conclude that much of the popular music of the world is informed by the flash of the spirit of a certain people specially armed with improvisatory drive and brilliance. Since the Atlantic slave trade, ancient African organizing principles of song and dance have crossed the seas from the Old World to the New. There they took on new momentum, intermingling with each other and with New World or European styles of singing and dance. Among those principles are the dominance of a percussive performance style (attack and vital aliveness in sound and motion); a propensity of multiple meter (competing meters sounding all at once): overlapping call and response in singing (solo/chorus, voice/instrument – interlock systems of performance); inner pulse control (a ‘metronome sense’, keeping a beat indelibly in mind as a rhythmic common denominator in a welter of different meters); suspended accentuation patterning (offbeat phrasing of melodic and choreographic accents); and, at a slightly different but equally recurrent level of exposition, songs and dances of social allusion (music which, however danceable and ‘swinging’, remorselessly contrasts social imperfections against implied criteria for perfect living). Flash of the Spirit is about visual and philosophic streams of creativity and imagination, running parallel to the massive musical and choreographic modalities that connect black persons of the western hemisphere, as well as millions of European and Asian people attracted to and performing their styles, to Mother Africa. Aspects of the art and philosophy of the Yoruba of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin; the Bakongo of Bas-Zaire and the neighboring Cabinda, Congo-Brazzaville, and Angola; the Fon and Ewe of the Republic of Benin and Togo; the Mande of Mali and neighboring territory; and the Ejagham of the Cross River in southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon; have come from sub-Saharan Africa to the western hemisphere. …”
Levi Jordan Plantation
Rolling Stone – Robert Farris Thompson: Canons of the Cool
[PDF] Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy

Port-au-Prince massive slums.

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