“Sound in Jamaica means process, community, strategy and product,” says Louis Chude-Sokei capturing the centrality of the sonic realm to Caribbean culture. Unlike the technologies of literacy that enabled Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’ sound communities function through technologies of orality and aurality. According to Chude-Sokei dub taught the world how to listen, how to ‘read’ sound, “Ghosts in the mix, duppies in the machine.”
“We have entered an epoch of shocked space and torn time. How do we write a history of fragments? How do we record a history of forgetting?” In “Monster. A Fugue in Fire and Ice” Anne McClintock attempts an imaginative stocktaking of the world as we know it today through the device of fugues which she describes as “emotional states involving amnesia, great forgettings and unburyings, where one finds oneself unexpectedly in haunted spaces that create improbable connections.”
Shocked space, torn time, fragments and forgetting are what faced the survivors of the Caribbean plantationocene as they tried to construct functioning societies out of the detritus left behind. Dub is one of the technologies of sound they created to render the hauntology of the postcolonial landscape habitable and legible, to animate its fugues, to aestheticize its ruptures, to convert its breaks to hypnotic beats and echoing wells and healing pools of resonant silence.
“Madman’s Rant” by Christopher Cozier, a collaborative work undertaken with singer David Rudder in 1997, is the closest I’ve seen to a 2D visual dub with its shattered, splintered yet rhythmic vision of life in Trinidad. A multi-paneled artwork, ‘Rant’ has been described as “sprawling, graphic, and schizophrenic, crackling with motion and tension, and punctuated by graffiti and unsettling visual allegories.” More on this intriguing work can be found in this Repeating Islands article reporting on a 2018 conversation between Rudder and Cozier revisiting the work.
The works cited above would be stimulating accompaniments to this sixth issue of PREE. For their help in reviewing the writing in this issue I would like to thank Ingrid Persaud, Marlon James, Kei Miller, Richard Georges, Natalie Reinhart, Jeanette Awai and Lue Boileau in addition to our usual editorial team.
Finally, thanks to all the cool writers who decided to flex their writing muscles in the Rub-a-dub issue. Their contributions have made this one of the strongest issues yet.
Image credit: Hut at Bathsheba by Corrie Scott.