The Black Art of Shock and Awe; Or, Black Radical Art and the Double Bind

Here’s an article in the Atlantic, describing in the typically fawning and servile leftist way a work of “art” by an “Afro-Swedish” “artist”- a cake, to be exact, in the form of an old caricature of a black woman.

This bizarre thing, and the incident it provoked, are really nothing unusual, the only really unusual thing was the ability of a black provocateur and his white allies to produce the combination of fear and disgust that is mostly a thing of times long past.

Black people know we find their violence and aggression frightening, their crude and unrestrained sexuality disgusting, and their primitive culture, both rural and urban, clownish and childish. They have also known that since the early 60’s we can’t admit this, and they use this to intimidate us into submission.

I talked about the double bind in Trayvon Martin As A Symptom of Peak Negro but primarily in the context of crime and riots. Briefly, the double bind gives the target two bad choices. Both have bad outcomes. The double bind for crime is a little less insiduous, since it simply requires whites to accept permanent status as an evil people and second-class citizens. The double bind for culture manages to make even submission suspect.

Much of black culture since the 60’s has been the celebration of ghetto behaviors and attitudes. These attitudes may be on some level wrong, it is argued, but they have developed as a matter of self-assertion and self-celebration under white oppression, so they represent the pure essence of life.

The first wave of this was the “blaxploitation” movies of the early 70’s. Violent, racist black criminals, especially pimps, were the heroes. Later in the decade, black nightclub music, called “disco” and also used by gays in celebration of sexual liberation, was adopted by whites as pop music. This wasn’t oppositional, as it represented an aping- no pun intended- of upper-class culture, European especially, and sexual norms. White people are actually poorly adapted for the black/gay/ultra-upper-class sexual norm of heavy promiscuity, but that’s another story.

This phenomenon reached its peak and continuous level with the introduction of “gangsta” rap in the early 90’s. Rap had been around for a few years at that point, mostly as novelty and comedy music- you may remember Tone Loc. As we saw in Pop Culture, people in the business of selling entertainment realized white suburban teenagers would love the aggressive anti-social message of rappers like the original “gangstas” NWA. Public Enemy was radical, but leftists politics don’t interest hormonal teenagers. NWA was purely anti-authority, which does. Later rappers celebrated not just the lives of ghetto punks, but drug dealers and pimps, who make money, buy cool stuff and get sex.

These exaggerated depictions of black oppositional life are objectively disgusting. But you can’t react in that way, because it’s racist. If you like it, that’s also racist, because you are enjoying depictions of black people behaving badly, which is just a racist stereotype. On a deeper level, even when a white person really embraces this material, they are left feeling alienated, because they are also told that being white, middle-class and suburban, they know nothing of this real, authentic life and are just posers. This is a terrible feeling. I remember reading a teenager from Rancho Palos Verdes, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, say of his peers, “There’s a lot of longing to be black.” What the fuck? Why, if you were an upper middle-class person living in beauty and luxury, would you envy the lifestyle of poor, stupid people living grim lives empty of not just beauty and luxury, but almost any level of human decency? Do you know what a pimp does? Do you know how a gangster gets and keeps what he has?

On an existential level, the black criminal is of the very highest status in bourgeois  Western culture. He defies all convention, makes his own rules, lives life on his own terms, and becomes his own God. This philosophy is the heart of 20th century French existentialism, as typified by Andre Gide.

On a meta level, all this is utterly consistent. In Protestant theology, morality itself is suspect, as a person might come to believe that by behaving morally, he has earned the favor of God. Better to avoid this potential pitfall!

As for the cake- if you eat the cake, you’re a racist. If you don’t eat the cake, you’re a racist. If you are offended by the cake, you are a racist. If you think the cake represents transgressive social criticism, you’re a bourgeois fool who is having the wool pulled over his eyes. If you think the cake is a stupid stunt, you’re a bourgeois fool who doesn’t understand that art is social commentary, not deftly-executed decoration.

“Afro-Swedish” “artist” Makode Linde is no artist, he’s a grifting poser. I don’t blame him, it’s nice work if you can get it, freaking out the squares. He gets laid and makes money, and gets breathless write-ups on his brilliance from SWPL journalists. But he knows he’s a fraud.

A great example of this is Tupac Shakur’s “T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E” tattoo. This means, we are reproachfully told, “The hate U give little infants fucks everyone.” If you think he’s a gangster and that’s bad, you’re a neanderthal racist. If you think he’s a gangster and that’s cool, you have been fooled, he’s really a sensitive social critic! If you think he’s a sensitive social critic, you’ve been fooled, he’s really a gangster! If you think he’s a profound, deep combination of gangster and sensitive social critic, you’ve still been fooled, because you don’t really know how much of each one, because you’re an out-of-touch white person, or if you’re a black, some kind of Uncle Tom! Plus it’s all about the Benjamins! As it should be, because of hundreds of years of racism!

Tupac was a guy with a business. He made money and got laid selling a fantasy to American teenagers, just like Davy Jones, who was also an acclaimed, successful child actor. Gangsta rap, the Monkees. Same thing. But at least it is commonly understood what the Monkees were.

Being cynical about this is the easy way out. It’s an appropriate response, but not enough. The black “artist”/provocateur counts on you responding in one of a certain number of ways, all within his frame. You have to call him on the game, every time.

One problem that both HBD advocates and mainstream conservatives make is a refusal to make moral judgments of blacks. HBD advocates because blacks are stupid and can’t help it, and naturally impulsive and aggressive and can’t help it. Steve Sailer’s schtick is “Hey, don’t look at me, it’s just the statistics!” Mainstream conservatives because blacks have been fooled by leftists into abandoning bourgeois morality and should be gently persuaded to re-adopt it.

All these things are true, but they are not an excuse. Even stupid, impulsive, misguided people have moral responsibility. They have to be called on the game, every time, and condemned, every time.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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6 Responses to The Black Art of Shock and Awe; Or, Black Radical Art and the Double Bind

  1. Ryu says:

    It’s a hard cut. I appreciate what some HBDers and conservatives do for the movement – they wake up zombies. At the same time, they teach a very defensive racism, a very quiet and weak confidence. There is a plea in every statistic “but I’m not racist!” Someday, when I have time,, I hope to get some conservatives on board with not attacking extremists in exchange for less criticism from us. It is hard because I am biased, I often think of conservatives as weinies.

    • Strictly speaking, conservatives are wienies, but, valuing logic and discernment should not be wrong. The problem is not that conservatives are wrong, they take great pains to be correct on everything. They don’t realize that being right does not mean anything in an environment based on lies.

      The only sane thing to do is tell the truth, always, and make appropriate moral judgments, always.

  2. DD says:

    So you mean that Tupac really wasn’t “deep” after all. I’ll have to go back and find the blonde whit kid with dreads who told me he was and have him clarify it for me again.

    • Ice Cube (O’Neal Jackson) once said “The American Dream isn’t for black people.” This from a guy who became rich selling crap to the masses, which is practically the definition of the American Dream.

      Tupac’s downfall was that he was a middle-class black who wanted to be an “authentic” black- much like Obama. His self-created persona was wildly successful. And yet like another self-created man of American fiction, Jay Gatsby, he got involved with people and things he really didn’t understand, and paid for it with his life.

      I was hoping for more comment on this, the Trayvon stuff gets a lot of black people yelling, but insulting one of their heroes does not. Strange.

  3. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: Week of April 29, 2012

  4. Eddie Willers says:

    Riddle me this – why were black musical performers of the 50’s and 60’s much more talented, better dressed and had public personae that were closer to a white ideal?

    Look at old movies of The Drifters, for example, Clyde McPhatter is stylish. Or check out Marvin Gaye or James Brown – wearing tuxedos, no less! Even Diana Ross could sing, as late as 1969, a song called “I’m Livin’ In Shame” and no one though ill of her or called her an Uncle Tom or accused her of ‘acting white’.

    ‘Black Pride’ (to use their own argot) has fallen a very long way indeed…

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