Light My Fire: A Counterspell Against Bullshit and Jive
Shadow and Light. Shadow and Act. Faulkner and Ellison. Shade Tree and Time to Face the Sun.
The rugged elegance of fame and fortune the hood rich way can lure anyone through the nondescript back door of his wildest dreams come true, toward rituals so sordid and raw he wonders if it was curiosity or a brisk curse that brought him there. But everything’s groovy for a while. Wine, weed, and women are flowing and you learn to make music on the monkey’s back, on that high ‘ocean-style’ wave. That’s where Lee Perry sat or huddled or flew or dove in from; in the proud/prowed heart of Kingston, Jamaica’s finest recording studio, just before he torched it, set unapologetic fire to his own creation, the renown Black Ark. He was seated g-like, at the mouth of the fountain in audiocolor, quenched, shunning the show-tunes and battle hymns and monkeys on his mind, (by monkeys I mean anxieties, or the fear of fulfilling the white man’s onerous stereo/and radio/ types of the black man) so he sat there as a king and god and champion of black dignity, in a most plush and throne-like chair he could see, surrounded by such lucky machines and admirers and mirrors from dusk until dawn they were shoving songs into his heart like daggers and dragging his mind into the hive. It could all be so much simpler, he realized, as he burnt the whole thing down that lucky day. Every record, every vibration, every burden disguised as relief or comfort, every perfect circle of wax and wane we call a LongPlay: all into cinders and smoke until broken was the curse and revolving door of a life course superimposed on him by ambition, until he could make healing music again.
This emission of the Feed comprises pieces that Lee Perry rescued from the rubble and reassembled. He brought the Ark out of the rouge and into the rain or reign (see also reine) where it is rendered an agent of hope and deliverance. Most basically, he cleared the party of bullshit and jive, he acted like a true Black Cop, and when the unwanted presences turned the quiet corner, he started the music again. He proved that we don’t always need electricity for black music, for we are electricity. So, here we enter his self-made universe in its Era of Good Feelings, in the rejuvenating discomfort of themes such as: How to celebrate a loss, how to eliminate the semantic structure that inverts loss and gain, how to be your own forest, how destruction is a myth or just a flipside of creation, positive, a pause/reset just when things get too theatrical or ridiculous, how to catch on fire and use the rising tempo to access a higher vibration until you’re a bundle of interdependent elements rolling across an omniscient void that is your total mind, how that changes the meaning of end of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing which I like to call by its nickname Do the Riot Thing, how misconstrued archetypes such as the diva (or the divine) and the collective (check out the Emerald Tablet) are meant to interact, how collectivity defragments (in and of and as) the black imagination, how that collectivity manifests today in both the ‘real’ and ‘cyber’ worlds, how they are different worlds, acting co-dependant though in need of behavior that honors their interdependency, how what they share is a commons, how their whole body is an ear, how to reread Gwendolyn Brooks’ The Preacher Ruminates Behind the Sermon in that context, how the diva takes one for the team by showing up in the places where gathering, especially gathering to listen to things together, feels most ominous, locations such as, in the fire, in the water, in the poem, in the music, in the moment, in the white man, as Frank O’Hara, or Kennedy, or King, or half-breed between these things, or their shared fantasy, which doubles as their shared fear, or All of these at once.
Here we treat fire as synonym for changing form or garde, not abandoning one form for another, but joining, not like a parasite with its host, but like a prayer with its subject, or a shoot with its soil and water and wind, or a mutation with the rest of the DNA, you hardly hear the beat skip—so as to suggest that when Lee Perry burnt down his studio, he may have single handedly liberated the archives of the African Diaspora from false myths simply by trusting that they would return to him with even more vigor and a quickening in their collective spirit. Let’s say this hour of sounds is a segment of the underground just beneath the burn, where he’s been digging and creating new music from the very sound of the digging, that that sound makes the beat, that the dynamic between the objects he finds or refin(e)(d)s in the waking heap of his charred Ark, makes the rhythm, and the fact that he senses that every such object is alive and electric, that he is certain of this, lends them their harmonic structure, and each element combines into an indomitable and jadelike rebel force, a Counterspell against Bullshit and Jive.