Niggas don’t be feeling they theory, ya feel me? Niggas don’t be feeling what it feels like to feel like the World was built atop of you. Niggas don’t be feeling what it feels like to sit with the tomb of history, to let the dust settle beneath your feet, to feel the weight of being a being positioned by a proximity to death. Niggas don’t be feeling me. Niggas don’t be feeling what it feels like to feel like there’s a “fundamental opacity and unthinkability” towards your Black ass feelings. But, my Black ass hasn’t been able to come to grips with it yet.
“I came into this world anxious to uncover the meaning of things, my soul desirous to be at origin of the world, and here I am an object among other objects.”
– Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
My mama used to lie to me. She used to tell me that I could kill’em with intelligence. She used to make me pray to the altar of God and Reason. She said that I could outsmart them and they’d have to care. She said that with wisdom they’d have to start working towards undoing the axioms of anti-Blackness – if not in their World at least in themselves. And my mama lied. But I know my mama lied because my mama knew what we all seem to know. My mama knew that there wasn’t nothing in this World that was gonna prevent them from maimin’ my being and callin’ my nigga, and makin’ me nigga, and sustaining the structure which continues to position niggas as the body-beings who exist themselves in and through a seemingly infinite proximity to death. And it ain’t about whether or not this World is fundamentally rational or irrational as much as it is about the simple fact that these niggas don’t feel me yet. And they never will. And they never will because there is a “fundamental opacity and unthinkability of Black feeling within the onto-epistemological framework that structures civil society and the modern field of representation,” (Tyrone Palmer, What Feels More than Feeling, 32). And this fundamental opacity is made possible by a metaphysical violence which ontologically produced this Black body-being as abject.
And they tell me that I am more than my abjection. And they tell me that to tell me this is to give me something worthy of celebration. That, in being more than an abject body-being, I am participating in this thing called “Life.” And that this thing called “Life” is some hot shit, some real lit shit, some shit that I should desire even if an attachment to it requires a certain attachment to my ongoing and accumulating abjection. They tell me I’m missing something in looking at my abjection, that in lingering to long on Death, I miss out on a Life that is actually worth living and that rather than questioning the value of this peculiar experience of being a body-being whose performance of social life is permeated by a sphere of death and its constellations, I should rather stare at the heart of our abject celebrations. Let’s let the homie Fred kick it to you right quick:
Our aim, even in the face of the brutally imposed difficulties of black life, is cause for celebration. This is not because celebration is supposed to make us feel good or make us feel better, though there would be nothing wrong with that. It is, rather, because the cause for celebration turns out to be the condition of possibility of black thought, which animates the black operations that will produce the absolute overturning, the absolute turning of this motherfucker out. Celebration is the essence of black thought, the animation of black operations, which are, in the first instance, our undercommon, underground, submarine sociality.
– Fred Moten, Blackness and Nothingness, 742
My only hope is that this celebration would make me feel better. There ain’t no reason to celebrate if this celebration don’t alleviate this depression. This Black depression which is no other than an unreadable affect stemming from the seemingly unanswerable question that haunts a body-being which exist in the afterlife of slavery, an afterlife which is 500 years and counting, which has no end in sight, and which promises nothing but Black death and resistance.
come celebratewith me that everydaysomething has tried to kill meand has failed.– Lucille Clifton
I love you like a nigga loves and a nigga loves in unthinkable and unrepresentable ways. I know you might feel me when I share this with you so please hear me out. I’m tired of celebrating the not-yet of my being both a corporeally and socially dead being. I’m tired of celebrating the not-yet of a Freedom-to-Come. I’m tired of Black Life being constituted by a fundamental requirement of Resistance as the enablement of Existence. I’m tired of celebrating “that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed,” and I wish that something could come and take this murderer away from me and my sister and my brother and my mama and my pa and my partner and my niggas and all the unborn Black boys, girls and non-binary body-beings who have yet to come into this anti-Black World.
I’m not quite sure if I have to insist upon this celebratory gesture as the “condition of possibility of Black thought.” In fact rather than celebrate I’m really just gonna:
… dance my pain away, I’ve got problems
Dance my pain away, I’ve got problems
Like woah, woah (yeah)
Woah, woah (yeah)
Woah, woah (yeah)
Woah, woah (yeah)
– Rod Lee, “Dance My Pain Away”