"Taken as a trilogy, consent not to be a single being is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."—Brent Hayes Edwards, author of Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination
In Black and Blur—the first volume in his sublime and compelling trilogy consent not to be a single being—Fred Moten engages in a capacious consideration of the place and force of blackness in African diaspora arts, politics, and life. In these interrelated essays, Moten attends to entanglement, the blurring of borders, and other practices that trouble notions of self-determination and sovereignty within political and aesthetic realms. Black and Blur is marked by unlikely juxtapositions: Althusser informs analyses of rappers Pras and Ol' Dirty Bastard; Shakespeare encounters Stokely Carmichael; thinkers like Kant, Adorno, and José Esteban Muñoz and artists and musicians including Thornton Dial and Cecil Taylor play off each other. Moten holds that blackness encompasses a range of social, aesthetic, and theoretical insurgencies that respond to a shared modernity founded upon the sociological catastrophe of the transatlantic slave trade and settler colonialism. In so doing, he unsettles normative ways of reading, hearing, and seeing, thereby reordering the senses to create new means of knowing.
1. Not In Between 1
2. Interpolation and Interpellation 28
3. Magic of Objects 34
4. Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia 40
5. Taste Dissonance Flavor Escape (Preface to a Solo by Miles Davis) 66
6. The New International of Rhythmic Feel/ings 86
7. The Phonographic Mise-en Scène 118
8. Line Notes for Lick Piece 134
9. Rough Americana 147
10. Nothing, Everything 152
11. Nowhere, Everywhere 158
12. Nobody, Everybody 168
13. Remind 170
14. Amuse-Bouche 174
15. Collective Head 184
16. Cornered, Taken, Made to Leave 198
17. Enjoy All Monsters 206
18. Some Extrasubtitles for Wildness 212
19. To Feel, to Feel More, to Feel More Than 215
20. Irruptions and Incoherences for Jimmie Durham 219
21. Black and Blue on White. In and And Space 226
22. Blue Vespers 230
23. The Blur and Breathe Books 245
24. Entanglement and Virtuosity 270
25. Bobby Lee's Hands 280
Works Cited 317
"In this profound work, Fred Moten makes a sustained and thrilling attempt to think philosophy and music together, which is also to think philosophy as music, which is also necessarily to think music as philosophy. In its capaciousness and in its persistent, challenging, dazzling intelligence, Black and Blur is a book that is worthy of the reputation and influence of its author. Its publication is a major event."
Brent Hayes Edwards, author of
Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination
"Poetry and philosophy can't convincingly be condensed or speeded up. To feel each fully they must be read and sounded in time. Such is the case with Fred Moten's words. Black and Blur allows and opens this feeling-mind-sense-body splitting possibility, in its stunning and generative appositionality of aesthetics and life. An intertwined, journeying flight, examining and composing variegations distinctly, yet together placed to read and imbibe. Beautiful, sobering, intricately pleasurable, delicious, and necessary as a way to now begin again delving into the specific immense variegated borderless blur of black that is profound, wide, and bittersweet."
Renée Green, artist, filmmaker, and author of
Other Planes of There
"Simply put, Moten is offering up some of the most affecting, most useful, theoretical thinking that exists on the planet today.... Moten’s work makes the activities of reading and thinking feel palpably fresh, weird, and vital."
"Some readers will come here because of The Feel Trio, because of The Undercommons. Some because Moten is the activists’ theorist, the contemporary art institution’s darling, because of performance studies, jazz studies, literature. Some readers will come here to encounter a brain that is at once more erudite, generous, capacious, fierce, jokey and infuriating than most others on the planet right now. Everybody ought to arrive here to be schooled and troubled, elated and confused, invited and indicted by a sparklingly original vision for black study."
"Through his writing and the ways he discusses it in warm, beckoning language that complements his conceptually intensive texts, Moten has become a siren of sorts for artists and curators who find in his words ideas to put into their own practice."
"It's this spirit of the collective effort of study and exchange and resonance, the effort to keep the channels open and keep listening, that has made Moten (or, maybe, 'Moten/s') such a celebrated thinker. At the end of sentences like these, you want to say something like Amen."
"Be ready to be wowed; be ready to be challenged; most of all, be ready for the long haul. It is, apparently, the first in a planned trilogy. Moten is tracking his own course, and it’s fast-moving and spectacular."
Patrick James Dunagan
"At a time when both theory and criticism are frequently and convincingly attacked as exhausted forms, Moten’s trilogy has reinvented both. . . . In its mixture of theoretical complexity and disarming directness, Moten’s beautifully written trilogy offers the sheer pleasure of art."
"2018 must go down for me as the year of Fred Moten’s trilogy: Black and Blur, Stolen Life, and The Universal Machine. You could say they’re essays about art, philosophy, blackness, and the refusal of social death, but I think of them more as a fractal universe forever inviting immersion and exploration, a living force now inhabiting my bookshelf."
"My favorite book(s) of 2018 are the three volumes of Fred Moten’s consent not to be a single being, individually titled Black and Blur, Stolen Life, and The Universal Machine. In this collection of essays stretching back fifteen years, Moten challenges the reader to imagine a radically interconnected aesthetic and political sphere that stretches from Glenn Gould to Fanon to Kant to Theaster Gates, sometimes in the space of a single sentence. This trilogy is one of the great intellectual adventures of our era."