This is an expository essay of “restless flying,” the terms of which are gleaned from engagement with two poetic lines. One is from Aimé Césaire’s 1956 poem, “Le verbe marronner.” The other is from the tenth-century Abbasid poet al-Mutanabbī’s qaṣīda, لااحترا مه سيل ءاش يئاقب (“Baqā’ī šā’ laisa hum irtiḥālan,” “My Constant Wish Is They Not Be Departing”), apropos the literary and political work of twentieth-century Tunisian thinker Mahmud al-Mas‘adī. Both the flight and its exposition belong to what J. Kameron Carter and Sara Jane Cervenak call “the Black Outdoors,” invoking in part Michel Foucault’s notion of “the thought of the outside,” whereby the domineering speaking subject of knowledge disappears in the infinite boundedness of language. Restless flying, it is argued, is elemental of what I term poiēsis in black, referencing a set of practices-of-living articulating conceptions of humanity that are appositive to the anthropology of “Man” concomitant with capitalist modernity.
Restless Flying, A Black Study of Revolutionary Humanism
R.A. Judy is professor of critical and cultural studies in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh. He authored the groundbreaking book (Dis)forming the American Canon: The Vernacular of African Arabic American Slave Narrative (1992). His latest book is Sentient Flesh (Thinking in Disorder/Poiēsis in Black) (Duke University Press, 2020).
R.A. Judy; Restless Flying, A Black Study of Revolutionary Humanism. boundary 2 1 May 2020; 47 (2): 91–118. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8193257
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