Monday, November 30, 2015
There it is, behind the reflection of Josh Rios, a copy of High Aztech. And there's the back cover of Smoking Mirror Blues, and a couple of my articles, that I also illustrated, from Different Worlds. All on display, behind glass. What is this? Rios and Anthony Romero are putting together a display they call Is Our Future a Thing of the Past?, Part 3. It's all about Chicanafuturism. What's that? Maybe I should just give you the official version:
Is Our Future A Thing Of The Past
As part of their artist residency at Harold Washington College Anthony Romero and Josh Rios curated a set of glass cases on the 8th floor. The publications on display feature the work of Chicano illustrator and sci-fi novelist Ernest Hogan along side other artifacts and media that address ideas of Chicanafuturism in general.
Chicanafuturism, which Catherine Ramirez describes as fictive kin to Afrofuturism, attempts to make sense out of the relationship between the Chicana/o, science, and technology. As Ramirez points out, an increasingly key part of this framework is the ability to rethink brown cultural production through the lens of technology. If we read the Chicana/o as “a science fiction state of being,” which Hogan suggests, Ramirez asks us to consider the implications of such a reading for the overall “concepts of science, technology, civilization, progress, modernity, and the human.”
In addition, Romero and Rios organized a selection of drawings by Ernest Hogan to be on view on the 11th floor. These drawings feature a variety of images that celebrate and investigate the role that the Chicana/o has to cyberculture, technology, counterculture, and history. Each drawing is paired with a text, written by Hogan, that both describes the drawn scenes and opens them up to wider spheres of interpretation.
As part of the project Rios and Romero worked with a group of students to imagine various cosmologies, which were then used to produce images that functioned as ostensible book covers for novels not yet written. These cosmologies also served as the ground for a collaborative print project between the students and Romero and Rios. Based on their cosmologies, students submitted abstracts of the unwritten books that were then superimposed on the back of a pulp novel and printed for display. These images appear in both the glass cases on the 8th floor and on the 11th floor.
Opening reception: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm
Harold Washington College
30 E Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601
Check it out. It's the way the world is going. If your future is becoming a thing of the past, you better start building yourself a new one.
Also, anybody interested in buying any of my drawings, please get in touch.
Friday, November 27, 2015
Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, celebrates Día de los Guajoletes with a with a tribute to the Go Go Gophers. Here's some leftovers from my research . . .
The depiction of Native Americans in early cartoons often went beyond stereotypes into raging surrealism:
This Popeye cartoon crystalizes the American myth of colonization into the grotesque:
Just for fun, here's some Chuck Jones for your guajolete hangover:
And to be truly perverse, this twisted masterpiece from Tex Avery:
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Ernest Hogan's reprint, the mindbending psychedelic fantasia "Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song," explores the Delanyesque theme of artist and muse in a tale that itself could be classified as a psychotropic drug.
That's from Elizabeth Hand's review of Stories for Chip in Fantasy & Science Fiction. It puts a twisted grin on my face, and gets me wondering if this stuff I keep doing is legal. What will my work do to my poor, innocent readers who pick up Stories for Chip because they want to honor Samuel R. Delany? “Guerrilla Mural” is also still available in Alien Contact, which is aimed at more conventional sci-fi enthusiasts. It's also the story that I exploded into my first novel Cortez on Jupiter, which no doubt has its own psychotropic effects.
As Alexandro Jodorowsky said:
I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs. The difference being that when one creates a psychedelic film, he need not create a film that shows the visions of a person who has taken a pill; rather, he needs to manufacture the pill.
I ask the same of science fiction. I prefer it to be psychedelic rather than narcotic.
Maybe I am in the drug business.
And before the DEA knocks down my door, I must explain that I do not use drugs for recreation or inspiration. I haven't touched any of that shit since way back in the Ninteen-hundreds. And even then, I was just a dabbler on the ragged edge of the drug culture, checking things out so I could write with authority about it later. I never courted brain damage with the unholy lust I've seen in blood-shot, dilated eyes of hardcore druggies.
Ah, research! What it lets you get away with!
But still, why do I create all this stuff that messes up people's minds?
I guess it's because people need their minds messed up. Plug into your favorite news outlet, see all the stories about people doing horrible things because they think it's normal, or going to preserve or establish normalcy. Some wild and unpredictable monkey wrenches need to be thrown into all the infernal machineries out there.
So, like Salvador Dalí said:
Like the drug companies, I have to ask that you use my writing, and art, responsibly. Do not drive, or operate heavy machinery while under its influence. You shouldn't make any important, life-changing decisions, either.
Maybe tune into a popular corporate franchise. Let your brain cool off. You wouldn't want your life to become exciting, would you?
Friday, November 13, 2015
Of course, there's Donald Trump:
And the border:
And business as usual:
Thursday, November 5, 2015
My eye was snagged by a Tweet about an novel with an ancient high-tech civilization in Africa that was written in 1902 by a black woman. I clicked on the link and investigated right away – and it was a good thing, because, even though I retweeted it, time has gone by the social media has been vomiting up stuff for about a week, and I can't find it! Good thing I've somehow become savvy enough to download the ePub version from Archive.org with the OCR-generated typos and the snippets of other stuff from the magazine because this was an unedited scan.
Even though it was a static-encrusted signal coming in on a weird fuzzed out station, I was hooked. I read and enjoyed and otherwise had my mind properly blown by Of One Blood, Or, The Hidden Self (yes, the sci-fi is plugged into identity) by Pauline E. Hopkins. It was only later that I found out it was available in an edited form.
The best things seem to come to me wrapped up in a weird adventure. Either that, or I'm just doomed to do everything the hard way.
Of One Blood was originally serialized in The Colored American Magazine, the first African American monthly, "devoted to literature, science, music, art, religion, facts, fiction and traditions of the Negro Race," from December 1902 to January 1903. The magazine was established by Pauline E. Hopkins in 1900. She was the editor until 1904 when Booker T. Washington purchased it in a hostile takeover. Seems that some folks thought that Hopkins was too much of a radical.
Hopkins was a journalist, playwright, and historian as well as writer and editor. She pioneered using what would now be called popular genre fiction to explore social and racial themes, not just in Of One Blood, but also in her other novels:
All four of which are available in one volume.
Of One Blood, being over a century old, has a steampunkish appeal, is proto-Afrofuturist, dealing with mesmerism, mediumistic powers, a cataleptic trance, and astral projection (we'd call these paranormal these days, but this was before the term science fiction was coined) and a fantastic, advanced lost civilization in the city of Meroe, in Ethiopia.
If that doesn't sound sci-fi enough for you, there's telepathy-powered television!
It begins with Reuel Briggs, “a young medical student interested in mysticism” who sees Dianthe Lusk, a Negro singer and “the owner of a mysterious face” and falls in love with her. I hesitate to tell much of the plot, or identify some characters by race. Some are identified as white in the beginning turn out be what we'd now call black. This is a “lost race” story, the subgenre pioneered by H. Rider Haggard in King Solomon's Mines and She, but in this case, the lost race is the entire human race, originating in Africa. Blacks and whites are all of one blood.
Which allows a love triangle to turn out to be both incestuous and interracial.
This was over a generation before José Vasconcelos published his mestiaje manifesto La Raza Cosmica.
Of One Blood is a novel from the past that can still shake things up in the 21st century.
For more information, check out the Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins Society.