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Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy

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In 1971, Sun Ra was an artist-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley. He gave a seminar called African-American Studies 198, which was also known as “Sun Ra 171,” “The Black Man in the Universe,” or “The Black man in the Cosmos.” In July a recording of one of the lectures from his seminar was published online, along with his reading list for the course (source:
When I came across the lecture and the reading list last summer, I thought it would be a good foundation for a class to discuss Sun Ra and Afrofuturism. I forgot to make a proposal until I was reminded when reading the recently published “In a Qu*A*re Time and Place: Post-Slavery Temporalities, Blaxploitation, and Sun Ra’s Afrofuturism between Intersectionality and Heterogeneity,” written by Tim Stüttgen and published posthumously by b_books in Berlin (link: 
Using the final chapters of Stüttgen’s book, as well as some other writings, this class would discuss Sun Ra, free jazz-futurism and others who adhered to an Afrofuturistic impulse. There is a lot that could be listened to, watched, read and discussed, so I think keeping it somewhat focused on Sun Ra might be a good idea. 
Here is a rough idea for a structucture
In advance of the first meeting, please listen to the Sun Ra lecture from UC Berkeley:
Meeting One
- Listen to some Sun Ra records (and maybe some others like Alice Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc.)
- Watch *Space is the Place* (link:
- Watch some excerpts from *Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise
* (1980): and *Brother From Another Planet: The Sun Ra Story* (2005)
- Maybe read some of Sun Ra’s poetry:
Meeting Two
- Read and discuss chapters 5, 6, 7 from  “In a Qu*A*re Time and Place: Post-Slavery Temporalities, Blaxploitation, and Sun Ra’s Afrofuturism between Intersectionality and Heterogeneity,” by Tim Stüttgen
Meeting Three
Read & discuss:
- ”Further Considerations on Afrofuturism" by Kodwo Eshun:
- Synthesizing the Omniverse (pages 87-91 in my PDF) from “More brilliant than the sun”
- The fourth chapter (Cyberpunk Phuturism) from Benjamin Noy’s “Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism” ( If you don’t have the book, there is another version online (haven’t looked super close, but seem more/less the same): Cybernetic Phuturism: The Politics of Acceleration
It would probably be more rational to work backwards through these sessions, but I feel like it would be more satisfying to plunge into the sounds, sights and ideas of Sun Ra first. Also note, that there is a lot of things that aren’t directly addressed by focusing on the above — from contemporary musical currents of Afrofuturism to Black Sci-Fi to other futurist/accelerationist takes on techno/machinic/cybernetic uptopias. We could either sprinkle some other things into the outline above, or develop some new proposals for subsequent classes. Please make suggestions below if you have additions or alternative ideas on how to structure things.
There is also an Afrofuturism collection here:
The Public School Berlin is located at A Public Library, Oranienstraße 72, 10969.


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TPS's picture

Hey everyone, 

We have organized another meeting of this class which will take place in a few weeks. It will be a lecture and discussion with Dr. Reynaldo Anderson on "Afrofuturism 2.0: A Transdisciplinary Agenda for Africa and its Diaspora." Find out more here: or by checking out the meeting page above. 

Hope to see you there.


caleb berlin's picture

(Sorry for the double post)

This Saturday will be the third and final meeting of “Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy” starting at 16:00. This week we’ll be reading ”Further Considerations on Afrofuturism" by Kodwo Eshun and some excerpts from “More brilliant than the sun," also by Eshun, and a chapter from Benjamin Noy’s “Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism." All relevant links are above in the class description.

TPS's picture

And please note the time change to 16:00!

TPS's picture

Hi All,

Just a quick reminder that for this Saturday’s meeting we’ll be discussing chapters 5, 6, 7 from  “In a Qu*A*re Time and Place: Post-Slavery Temporalities, Blaxploitation, and Sun Ra’s Afrofuturism between Intersectionality and Heterogeneity,” by Tim Stüttgen. This was published by and is available from b_books.

Also, if you have any ideas on what to discuss in addition to (or instead of) the Eshun essay during the third meeting, please come with some suggestions. 

See you all tmr,

fiona geuss's picture

I came along this that happened last year april at PS1:

caleb berlin's picture

Here are few videos of Sun Ra in concert:

caleb berlin's picture

Hi all,

I started making a Sun Ra playlist in Spotify and got a bit carried away (it is over 5 hours long). For those of you with Spotify, you can check it out here: TPSB: CT4MT

I'm also going to post some videos in a bit.

Looking forward to Saturday!


TPS's picture

hey @berrigan, sorry for the confusion! In *advance* of the first meeting, it would be great if everyone could listen to Sun Ra’s lecture from UC Berkeley. During our first meeting we’ll watch “Space is the Place” and things mentioned above.


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