In any case, Soul Pictures is now imported or exported, which ever the case may be into a note on my facebook, which is then broadcasts to the people whom we call "friends" on facebook. As I guess everybody has realized by now, even me, facebook has nothing to do with what we use to think of as friendship. The flow of it seems to have been largely determined by young people and current concepts of friendship, about which I won't comment since I don't understand it and don't have time to study it. It's their business. We had a chance to experiment with new forms of affiliation when we were young. Now it is their turn. Hopefully they won't make the mess of it that we baby boomers made of it. Affiliation, that is.
But that isn't my topic. For me facebook has nothing to do with friendship. Not really sure what friendship is anymore, only that I don't have any friends in the true sense in which I regarded friends. There are many reasons, not sure about all of them, but I am content that this is as it should be for the time being. I don't have friends because I am otherwise occupied in deep work of the soul which takes up all of my time at the moment. I don't feel like I am missing anything. I don't feel like this is the way it will always be but people need hibernations, hiatuses, sabbaticals, vacations, retreats, whatever you want to call them. But this is not a vacation either. Rather this time and everything I am doing in this time is the chance I have been waiting for, planning for, dreaming about for at least twenty years, maybe more.
That's how long it has been since I have had a time of months long in which all I had to do was write and plan to write, research and plan research, and string it all together. I had such time after I wrote my first book Black Macho with the royalties I got from that book but I didn't yet have the skills or the research abilities or the spirit to know what to do with it. Instead I went back to school and I read and I studied which is pretty much what I have done with every other sabbatical or free moment since then. My last sabbatical since I have been a tenured professor I spent doing my Ph.D. in Cinema Studies at NYU, and believe me that was no vacation. I tried to make it as much about writing as I could but being a student just isn't the same thing.
So you see I am writing Soul Pictures as my sabbatical project. I am organizing the materials or that project via the resources of this blog, coordinated with several other blogs I use to coordinate and organize subsidiary materials to Soul Pictures, one on the culture of blues people which is how I refer to African American history and culture, the music of blues people, which is what it is all about, another blog on personal, emotional stuff I don't plan to pursue in the book but which might get in the way if I didn't have a chance to get it off my chest. There's a blog on African American photography and visual culture, which bears a symbiotic relationship to Soul Pictures. That is it is my study of the accomplishments of others in African American visual culture and American visual culture that has prompted my reading of the visual culture of the women and men in my family.
As for facebook, it has gotten rolled into the project because there were two reasons I thought blogging might be a good way to organize materials for facebook. First, because at the same time you are formulating your ideas, you can also be helping to formulate the audience for your ideas. Because I don't have an audience. Or rather if I have an audience, it is not an organized, identifiable niche audience. There isn't any way that I know of to make a living serving or speaking to that audience and that has to change. Otherwise the discourse, the exchanges, the languages, whatever you want to call it, will die out from lack of reinforcement. So blogging is audience development as well as tangible progress and work that you can track in its accumulation. It's also like a scrapbook in that you can actually show it to people, even to perspective publishers should the occasion arise. Facebook can conceivably fulfill the same purpose if you handle it right, which in my view it is possible to do best in the form of the notes application, which seem to have no length limits or time limits.
As for audience development, the opportunity of facebook seems crucial. Your first thought is well how many people are you actually talking to, how many pay attention, etcetera and so forth. But what could be more useful to the development of an audience tailor made for your material than to concentrate on a carefully selected group of people whom you already know and who have expressed some interest in accessing your daily, weekly or monthly development?
So this is the deal. Sorry if you want to be friends but for me facebook has nothing to do with friendship. I am 57 years old. I don't know how to make friends with anybody on a machine. More than likely all the friends I am ever really going to have, I already have. In any case, the development of new ones is temporarily suspended. This is about the work. And while the work is for career purposes, it is first and foremost the labor of the soul, the stuff I recognize I need to do before I go one step further into the future. If I were religious, I would say it is between me and God or me and my maker, or something like that, but I am not religious, so I will just say it is between me and me, or me and whatever there is beyond me and you. It is between me and the planet. Me and the vibrations of the universe. Because I think vibrations might be real, which is where the music comes into it.
It is a piece called "They Don't Really Care About Us" that he did in 1991. And it is worth a listen I think. The video is good too. In the work of this period of History, Book II, Jackson gets a nice little soulful groove going with large groups of people singing, dancing, playing instruments. It is very Baptist Gospel Church Choir in its inflection and mood, which I find irresistible. Ironically, I also find it very bluesy.
And I am thinking this. Words I could live with out. Or let's just say I could live a long time with anybody speaking directly to me. Sometimes I crave that particular kind of silence. But music I would die without. And there is nothing better than being in the presence of a large group of people singing, dancing and playing instruments. Failing being there live, it is not a bad thing to listen to on a recording or watch on a video. I've been around large groups of people singing and dancing all my life. It has been an essential aspect of the culture that made me, Soul Pictures, Blues People, Blues Music, all of that. I have been up to my neck in it all my life and I try to keep it that way as much as possible.
So let's see how this reads. I've probably left some stuff out. But I can start with this. All I wanna say is they don't really care about us. You ain't never lied about that!