Wednesday, May 03, 2006

he woos through mental stimulation...

the lighting in my computer room was dimmed, shadows stretched in excess across the walls as the artificial sheen from the monitor whitewashed my face into a bloodless mask.

coltrane was currently embroiled in a symphonic skirmish with davis, his uppercut of staccato sax strikes bouncing off the body blows coming from davis' tenacious trumpet taps, the resulting shower of sound soaking my cerebrum with sheets of melodic condensation.

i was stretched out in my chair, my body in 'L' shape, my mind in 'on' mode, my ears splintering attention between the battle blowing from my speakers and the speaker on the phone held tight to my ear. aries man had me engaged in yet another heated debate that tested my patience while at the same time making my nipples erect.

"it doesn't matter if willie lynch was a real person or not," he replied hotly after i'd dismissed the validity of the letter, "he represented every white person from that era!"

propping my feet upon the corner of the desk, i crossed my legs and leaned back, settling in for the long haul. i sighed.

"the inflammatory nature of the letter suggests it was created for the specific purpose of getting black folk pissed off at white folk," i responded with a smirk, "while also giving way too much credit to slaveowners of that time."

"what, you don't believe what was stated in the letter?" he asked skeptically.

i thought about it for a second.

"do i believe some slaveowner sat down and actually put some effort into a strategy to pit black folk against each other?" i said slowly, my mind still searching for an answer, ""

"why not?"

i pulled up the letter on my computer screen again and re-read it.

"...In my bag here, I have a fool-proof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee everyone of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years. My method is simple, any member of your family or any overseer can use it.

I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves, and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies, and it will work throughout the South. Take this simple little test of differences and think about them. On the top of my list is "Age", but it is there because it only starts with an "A"; the second is "Color" or shade; there is intelligence, size, sex, size of plantations, attitude of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine or coarse hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action--but before that, I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust, and envy is stronger than adulation, respect, or admiration..."

"well, for one thing, having studied african-american history, i have never come across strategy this specific created by slaveowners to divide black folk," i finally answered after digesting the words from the screen and taking a swig of water to wash the bitter taste from my mouth.

"nikki," aries man's voice held a whole lot of cynicism in it, "just because it's not in the history books doesn't mean it doesn't exist. you know that."

"come on, of course i know that." i said with an equal amount of cynicism, "but answer me this. if we were considered to be no more intelligent than animals and in fact were treated worse than their pet dogs, why would there even be an effort of this nature put into dividing us? i mean, they already had the government backing their actions with laws and despite numerous attempts at uprisings, the institution of slavery was strong enough to withstand all rebellions. why would a slaveowner feel the need to create additional obstacles when the course was already pretty much insurmountable?"

there was silence on the line as he contemplated his answer. i took another gulp of my water as a new song emerged from my speakers.

"if i should write a book for you
that brought me fame and fortune too
that book would be, like my heart and me
dedicated to you..."

hartman was weaving worship into a serenade of words floating upon the notes of coltrane's sax, coaxing wistful whispers from my throat. i frantically swallowed, choking on them as i gathered my self-control.

oh hell nah! this song is way too damn romantic for this particular moment. i ain't ready for that kind of shit.

i clicked open the ipod window and scrolled down, intent on putting on some public enemy or asheru, anything to absorb the loneliness descending within me.

"you listen to johnny hartman?" aries man asked me incredulously.

you know who johnny hartman is???

"what you know about johnny hartman???" i answered, surprised.

"my parents are big coltrane fans, and the cd he did with hartman is one of their favorites."

"his voice is really perfect for coltrane's music," i said as i clicked on the next coltrane song on the sly (cuz really, i wasn't ready for the mood johnny was putting me in), "it's like a shot of remy martin cognac sliding down the throat of trane's sax, and when he plays, the listener is coated in an amber elixir made up of both hartman's flow and coltrane's blow."

aries man was silent for a second. i felt a little awkward. i tend to get a bit too descriptive when it comes to how music feels to me. loquacious. yeah...that's the word.

"damn, nikki," he replied after a moment, "just damn."

limehouse blues was playing in the background at this point. a lively duel between coltrane and cannonball adderly, it charged the air with energy as the frenetic pacing of their match made it impossible for the ear not to indulge. the choreography began with a synonomous declaration of alpha male status, their fingers racing feverishly up and down the body of their instruments as their notes danced around in syncronized discord. each crash of the warring swords against each other elevated tempers to combustible levels as they pushed each other into more complex sound configurations. towards the end of the song they were both wearing the minute incisions inflicted upon each by the other. ultimately they decided to blow notes in harmony, probably because they both too battered to continue with the fight.

aaaahhh...that's better. nothing like a war of woodwind instruments to put a sista in a good mood (or at least a mood that doesn't have anything to do with sex or being alone).

"uh, so you were gonna tell me why you think white slaveowners were even smart enough to come up with something as complicated as what's described in the willie lynch letter," i said after a minute of listening to coltrane and adderly in silence, "and why, when they saw us as 'n.iggers' they would refer to us as 'black' in the 1712 no less..."

"oh yeah," he said, excitement re-ignited as we got back to the topic at hand, "wait...he refers to slaves as 'black' slaves? well i still think there is validity to the letter because..."

i won't give his argument here because it was long and complicated and i get tired just thinking about it. hours later we were talking about fraternities and sororities which turned into another debate altogether (he's a member...i'm not.) more times than not, we didn't agree with each other, but the discussion wasn't littered with silence or bullshit or lopsided sharing, which is always a plus as far as i'm concerned.

on this evening, with the shadows growing around me as the room evolved into darkness with the setting of the sun, coltrane and conversation was all a sista needed to keep the loneliness at bay.

it's the little things, you know?