Basic Black, the Funky Sutra


Buy this DVD at! An interviewer, Wayne Orr, on the commentary track of Ray Charles—Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival repeatedly asked Ray certain types of questions to which Ray politely and consistently responded, “My mind don’t go that way.” Only a Black man would create such an arrangement of English words. Anybody who understands English and is not restrained by its vacuous, rote rules of grammar can come along and repeat what Ray says. But only a Black man like Ray Charles can create such an arrangement.

My mind don’t go that way. This sentence summarizes what I will call “basic Blackness.” Whatever follows after this introductory summary is related to this apparently simple and “primitive” sequence of words. When we say the word “primitive” we sometimes forget the power in this word—we forget about the words prime and primacy. When the slang phrase “break it down” is spoken, we may forget that this is a request to “make it plain.” I am directed toward the wisdom of primacy. And the intention here is to reinforce the fundament supporting declarations of Blackness.

The intention here is to take Blackness beyond Blackness, toward the African wisdom of primacy, the ancestral Deep Thought. This effort intends to incarnate this effort instead of simply examining it from a distance. So an attempt at what some call sutra will be made here—this work needs to find the exact words to be as brief and precise as possible.

We can be environmental or egotistical. The environmental person is an incarnation of nature designed by nature to be fruitful and multiply. The egotistical person is a creation of the mind of the egoists encroaching upon nature.

Now behold, Blackness is based on five activities:

  • Recognizing your imperial reality, the pitfalls of gluttony.
  • Sharing and incarnating symbols instead of capturing and displaying idols.
  • Valuing action over inaction and steady state conditions.
  • Valuing intellectual synthesis equally with intellectual analysis.
  • Valuing inter-generational communication, the ancestral relationship.

Recognizing your imperial reality, the pitfalls of gluttony.

Modern English catch phrases:

  • “Our traditional values”
  • “It’s a free country”
  • “Environmental impact”
  • “Keeping it real”
  • “In touch with reality”
  • “Substance abuse”

You are surviving in an empire when you are somehow kept alive and your mind is not for you. Your mind is not for you when you are being schooled instead of educated. You know you are schooled because you are indifferent to the activity of thinking. Many of you simply dislike thinking. Schooling makes your mind available for use and disposal. The users and disposers are the authority figures. The authority figures serve commanders. The commanders have a mandate. The mandate comes from the imperial law. The imperial law is reality.

The commanders live in a “free country” as long as resources—including human resources—are available for their use and disposal. The environmental impact of such use and disposal is negative when you value this activity against the laws of nature. To avoid such negativity you can stay in touch with the imperial reality and attempt to thrive there and pursue happiness.

The opinion here is that imperial reality is an artificial environment incorporated with the natural environment through gluttony. The glutton comes from poverty. The glutton is distinguished by the addictive personality. The addictive personality engages in substance abuse.

It is an error to assume that connecting gluttony and addiction to a grand imperial design will stop these behaviors. This opinion is, of course, useless to those already “in touch with reality.” This opinion is meant for the young person who is not yet totally committed to selfishness and the desire to become a “regular person” a person regulated by the empire—a predictable person with “consumer confidence.”

Sharing and incarnating symbols instead of capturing and displaying idols.

Modern English bywords:

  • “Materialism”
  • “Watch yourself!”
  • “Don’t get beside yourself!”

When you are no longer interested in the answer to the question, “What does it really mean?” you have made yourself available to idol worship. The activity of discovering meaning in the context of laws requires the mind under your control. When this activity is absent, the mind is not under your control. You can tell when your mind is not under your control when you are compelled to look over your shoulder to see what is there. You feel that there is a source “outside of you” that you must look toward for whatever is not within you. This is the feeling of alienation. The alien travels in a vehicle called The Ego along straight lines and an occasional curve. Watch yourself or you will mess around and get beside yourself!

We can be environmental or egotistical. The environmental person is an incarnation of nature designed by nature to be fruitful and multiply. The egotistical person is a creation of the mind of the egoists encroaching upon nature. For the egotist, nature is “out there” “waiting” to exploited otherwise it will “go to waste.” For the environmental person, nature is everywhere and it can be arranged in order to be fruitful and multiply otherwise there is universal non-existence.

It is an error to assume that science and “high” technology only can exist with the egoists. This is the great error of the egoist and his great burden.

Environmental people speak an environmental language. When you speak it, you will see nature and then you, an incarnation of nature. Egotistical people speak an egotistical language. When you speak it, you will see “you,” the alien, and then “the outside world.” The opinion here is that the official language of empire is necessarily egotistical.

It is an error to assume that environmental language is incapable of meeting and exceeding the level of abstraction perceived in egotistical language. This is the great error of the egoist and his great burden.

I am writing these words to you in an egotistical language. You do the math…

Mathematics is a language. This definition becomes self-evident in the field of applied mathematics. Keith Devlin, his book, The Language of Mathematics: Making the Invisible Visible, explores this concept. You know its symbols—at least the primitive ones from arithmetic. I mention this language to you because this is probably the only environmental language with which you are familiar. And the punch line is: most of you hate math! This is no accident.

Valuing action over inaction and steady state conditions.

Modern English catch phrases:

  • “Do as I say; don’t do as I do!”
  • “Actions speak louder than words.”

Here, unfortunately, are two choices: your father can tell you that he loves you or your father can show you that he loves you by performing acts of love. Show and tell is great but the reality for most us, who are not imperial authority figures, is summarized by the quip, “Do as I say—don’t do as I do!” Most of us are on the receiving end of a declaration of state. We inherit from this “action” of inaction and learn to prioritize the steady state condition and we find ourselves talking about what we should be doing instead of actually doing. We learn the vocabulary of captivity, using words like hope, wish and if instead of words like produce, develop and when.

Curtis Mayfield puts it like this: “Everybody’s prayin’ and everybody’s saying—but when come time to do, everybody’s laying.” This mindset should not be upsetting or surprising because—once we recognize our imperial reality—we will realize that we are captives. We use the egocentric language of our captors and we inherit from the spirit of captivity to get a double-dose of thoughts steeped in inaction.

The captors want to hold on to their property and enjoy declaring their status and displaying their power. The assimilated captives, the “regular people,” learn to live vicariously through their captors, their declarations, and enjoy displaying their idols representing power. Both captor and captive are entertained as long as the natural environment can sustain them.

The combination of having control over your mind and prioritizing action over inaction is essential for a human, thriving in the natural world. In the natural world, when you don’t work, you don’t eat. In the artificial imperial world, there is the welfare state—there is “free” bread to eat before you go to the games at the coliseum. The children of the people who believe in the gift of free bread now may find themselves serving in the mercenary army of an emperor later.

Valuing intellectual synthesis equally with intellectual analysis.

Modern English catch phrases:

  • “Humpty Dumpty…”
  • “Thinking outside of the box”
  • “Connecting the dots”
  • “The big picture.”
  • “Rippin’ and running.”
  • “Cuttin’ up and carrying on.”

Analysis contains the Greek-derived word lysis, which means cutting, when you are shown this word as the suffix in hydrolysis. Recall that thesis, inside of the word synthesis, is a report carrying the promise of correct information. It is the first step in Hegelian Dialectical Motion—but let me not digress. Here is a simple model of complete mind activity: cut “it” up again and again and report on each part; create an accurate picture by bringing together each report; see understanding and obtain a name for “it” to store “it” for future reference. Children play with the puzzle and resolve an image.

Unfortunately, most of us live with left-brain dominant mind activity. Most of us cut up again and again and we might report on some of the parts. Frankly, most of us are cut ups, ripping and running. Again, this mindset—, which is literally destructive—is necessary for imperial captivity. The regular people don’t need to see “the big picture.” We can “allow” our imperial masters to connect the dots—what will they think of next?

Is the Freudian iceberg colder?

Whatever “they” think it will most likely not be thinking outside of the box. They must stay firmly planted inside their artificial environment, the allegorical Platonic Cave, where they dominate. There is no end to the left-brain dominant mindset so there is no satisfaction by the sense of completion. Again, the danger of gluttony looms. Let this paradox belong to the Greek called Xeno: take “it” and cut “it” in half; take a half and cut it in half; take another half and cut it in half…

When you a have the “perfect knife” of the destructive mind, you can perform Xeno’s intellectual feat indefinitely. Put down your sword and make it into a plowshare. Outstretch your left hand with renewable authority because this hand is controlled by the right-side of the brain. Let this gesture be a symbol to you—again, I digress.

So now, what is “it”? In the imperial Latin, it translates into id. The word I translates into ego. The id, ego and super-ego are shown in the iceberg meant to represent the Freudian model of consciousness. Is the Freudian iceberg colder?

I apologize for my digressions. They certainly appear to be egocentric indulgences! Trust in your right-brain activity to put all of these pieces together. It is an error to try to make yourself understand. Understanding is an involuntary response.

Valuing inter-generational communication, the ancestral relationship.

Modern English catch phrase: “you need therapy.”

Alex Haley, his work Roots, demonstrates how much he values inter-generational communication. Its astonishing popularity teaches us that we should value inter-generational communication as well. Most of us would have no problem when a Hollywood production comes to us to make our life story. The left-brain dominant mindset will stay in the egocentric box and almost involuntarily conclude that this Hollywood story is about me and only me. When we actualize a complete mindset, the right-brain will bring together all of the family members and friends that contribute to me—and we all are in this story of “my” life.

The recent Hollywood film Ray is a shining example of telling the story of musical legend Ray Charles with complete mind activity. You cannot understand Ray Charles without his family and without his friends. It is an environmental understanding instead of an egocentric understanding. The movie clearly shows how much his great Queen Mother contributed to his life. But he also inherited from his father as well. Feel free to speculate about what the father “told” his son about how to treat women and how to raise children. The father is still “speaking” even when he is not there. And this takes us out of materialism and into the abstract, spiritual form of inter-generational communication.

When we begin to explore this abstract form of communication, we begin to tap into the heart of the African world before the time of Columbus. The African peoples built social systems specifically designed to transfer the accumulated data of ancestors to the descendants. It is our task to renew these systems. The increasing need for psychotherapy in the “mainstream” society coupled with the gluttony for anti-depressants among the elite and privileged classes should serve as an indicator of the need for our task.

So it is not for me to tell my life story. Talking only about me, especially to my children, by definition keeps family secrets—leaving my children vulnerable to ignorance. It is my task to tell the story of my family and the friends of the family. This is a very big picture—especially when I try to see my first ancestor—the progenitor! I will start drawing it with crayons. I expect my descendants to set it in stone with bright colors, elegant curves and lines.


So Ray says, “My mind don’t go that way.” First, see that he is talking about his mind. This implies that he is a thinking man who is aware that he is thinking. This implies that his mind not available for others to use and dispose. (But this does imply that he can dispose of himself—as Ray Charles’ drug abuse suggests.) He is telling you that he is no fool for others. Second, see that his mind is going. He is telling you that he is a man of action. Then he speaks of “that way,” which implies a path—but this path must be abstract. We are left with the symbol of the path and not an actual path we can touch in physical reality that we might idolize.

And, now, since I listened to elder Ray Charles and walked away with a symbol from him in my mind, he has participated in inter-generational communication with me and I am as pleased and satisfied as a child eating candy. In that moment, Ray Charles did not refuse to be a role model and seal himself up into his egocentric box. He came out and became One of the Family. Ray says, “We learn from those that come before us.”

This arrangement of words ends this analysis. Let me be Black enough to begin the synthesis.