A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism by Paul Youngquist

A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism

byPaul Youngquist

Hardcover | October 25, 2016

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Sun Ra said he came from Saturn. Known on earth for his inventive music and extravagant stage shows, he pioneered free-form improvisation in an ensemble setting with the devoted band he called the “Arkestra.” Sun Ra took jazz from the inner city to outer space, infusing traditional swing with far-out harmonies, rhythms, and sounds. Described as the father of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra created “space music” as a means of building a better future for American blacks here on earth.

A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism offers a spirited introduction to the life and work of this legendary but underappreciated musician, composer, and poet. Paul Youngquist explores and assesses Sun Ra’s wide-ranging creative output—music, public preaching, graphic design, film and stage performance, and poetry—and connects his diverse undertakings to the culture and politics of his times, including the space race, the rise of technocracy, the civil rights movement, and even space-age bachelor-pad music. By thoroughly examining the astro-black mythology that Sun Ra espoused, Youngquist masterfully demonstrates that he offered both a holistic response to a planet desperately in need of new visions and vibrations and a new kind of political activism that used popular culture to advance social change. In a nation obsessed with space and confused about race, Sun Ra aimed not just at assimilation for the socially disfranchised but even more at a wholesale transformation of American society and a more creative, egalitarian world.

About The Author

Paul Youngquist teaches English at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the author or editor of six books, including Cyberfiction: After the Future, Monstrosities: Bodies and British Romanticism, and Race, Romanticism, and the Atlantic. He now devotes much of his energy to studying the histories, written and oral, of resistance a...
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Details & Specs

Title:A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of AfrofuturismFormat:HardcoverDimensions:372 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 25, 2016Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292726368

ISBN - 13:9780292726369

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Prelude to Infinity
  • Intro: Wonder Inn
  • 1. Alien
  • 2. Marienville
  • 3. Bronzeville
  • 4. Thmei
  • 5. Egypt
  • 6. Washington Park
  • 7. Arkestra
  • 8. Immeasurable Equation
  • 9. El Saturn
  • 10. Isotope Teleportation
  • 11. Cry of Jazz
  • 12. Sputnik
  • 13. Rocketry
  • 14. Tomorrowland
  • 15. Interplanetary Exotica
  • 16. Space Music
  • 17. Myth Science
  • 18. Black Man in the Cosmos
  • 19. Space Is the Place
  • 20. Tokens of Infinity
  • 21. Continuation
  • Outro: Extensions Out
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Discography
  • Credits and Permissions
  • Index

Editorial Reviews

Sun Ra said he came from Saturn. Known on earth for his inventive music and extravagant stage shows, he pioneered free-form improvisation in an ensemble setting with the devoted band he called the “Arkestra.” Sun Ra took jazz from the inner city to outer space, infusing traditional swing with far-out harmonies, rhythms, and sounds. Described as the father of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra created “space music” as a means of building a better future for American blacks here on earth.A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism offers a spirited introduction to the life and work of this legendary but underappreciated musician, composer, and poet. Paul Youngquist explores and assesses Sun Ra’s wide-ranging creative output—music, public preaching, graphic design, film and stage performance, and poetry—and connects his diverse undertakings to the culture and politics of his times, including the space race, the rise of technocracy, the civil rights movement, and even space-age bachelor-pad music. By thoroughly examining the astro-black mythology that Sun Ra espoused, Youngquist masterfully demonstrates that he offered both a holistic response to a planet desperately in need of new visions and vibrations and a new kind of political activism that used popular culture to advance social change. In a nation obsessed with space and confused about race, Sun Ra aimed not just at assimilation for the socially disfranchised but even more at a wholesale transformation of American society and a more creative, egalitarian world."A Pure Solar World is a major accomplishment. Working through the tangle of incomplete and misleading information surrounding Sun Ra and Saturn Records, Paul Youngquist provides the most thoroughly researched work on Sun Ra to be published in recent years. To anyone with a serious interest in comprehending the Ra universe, this volume will be an invaluable guide." - Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Pennsylvania State University, author of Integral Music: Languages of African-American Innovation