24 March 2010

Music to Dig By: Sun Ra at the Pyramids, 1971

Sun Ra is one of the kings of archaeopop aesthetics and a major figure in Jazz and afro-futurism. In 1971 he fulfilled a lifelong dream and played at the Great Pyramid. This footage was taken there and on a side trip to Sardinia and used in the amazing 1972 film Space is the Place. (The rest of which was filmed here in Oakland and San Francisco!) It's magnificent.

Space is the Place is required viewing for Archaeopop readers, get to it!

I really wish I could have taken Sun Ra's class at Berkeley:
In early 1971 Sun Ra was artist-in-residence at University of California, Berkeley, teaching a course called "The Black Man In the Cosmos". Rather few students enrolled but the classes were often full of curious persons from the surrounding community. One half-hour of each class was devoted to a lecture (complete with handouts and homework assignments), the other half-hour to an Arkestra performance or Sun Ra keyboard solo. Reading lists included the works of Madame Blavatsky and Henry Dumas, the Book of the Dead, Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, The Book of Oahspe and assorted volumes concerning Egyptian hieroglyphs, African American folklore, and other topics.
Also check out this peculiar exhibition, "Sun Ra meets Napoleon: Fragments of the Alter-Future", which juxtaposes the pioneering Egyptologists Giovanni Belzoni and François Champollion with the music of Sun Ra. Belzoni in particular deserves the attention: he started life as a circus strongman and ended up as an Egyptologist!

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