Size / / /

For Ashon Crawley and adrienne maree brown

Note: This piece first appeared without crediting the work of the Black Quantum Futurism Collective. This was a grave error, and I am sorry for it. The theory of Black Quantum Futurism was developed by Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa and I direct interested readers to their work. I trust that this piece on blackness as gravity will be read for what it is: as a side note to that larger conversation.

1. Distortion

The most common force, the most everyday, is also the most obscure. We feel it most but we understand it least.

Begin from here: the curvature of space-time is caused by the unequal distribution of mass/energy.

On the street. For hours.

This is distorted geometry. How a body causes space-time to sag.

If an object is subjected to force it will deviate.

Time lapses more slowly. On the street. Slow light.

All models of quantum blackness attempt to develop a new geometry. “Everything was like a poem, with different curves, different levels.”1 “There is a point at which methods devour themselves. I should like to start from there.”2 “Yes, I must press. My colleagues must press. We all press.”3

Squeeze and stretch. How space-time dissolves at very small distances.

Plot the distance between bullet and flesh. The distance between floor and hair. Between throat and chain. Between hunger and time of day.

As my colleague wrote before her untimely death: Only two words in this research are necessary.

2. Infinities

Blackness cannot be integrated with quantum mechanics at very high energies. At lower energies, it is ignored; to address energies at or higher than the Planck scale, a new theory of quantum blackness is required.

To address vulnerability. To address a relationship to interruption. To integrate the vibration of urban backyards.

Blackness has been described as nonrenormalizable. Its behavior depends on an infinite number of independent parameters. Therefore, to develop a consistent theory of quantum blackness one must conduct an infinite number of experiments.

The experiment of zones. Analysis of prison-flesh attraction. The experiment of the “black smile.” Of the child.

Infinite kinship experiments. Infinite gestures.

A laboratory vast enough to contain the wall.

Sometimes we were so tired we couldn’t lie down. We would take walks. We would buy nothings. We joked about the experiment of the corner store. The experiment of the fiercely freezing, neon-colored drinks. Of the red powder on the fingers. Fluorescent light.

Take into consideration the presence of a curved background.

Consider imaginary time. Noncommunicative geometry. The “trapped surface.”

Consider the implications of the phrase: “cannot be integrated.”

Consider string theory, which introduced the concept of vibration.

Experiments in exhaustion. Consider that the problem of quantum blackness will mean different things to different researchers. My colleague died of complications from a condition called “hood disease,” but she herself always referred to it as “white supremacy disease.”

It is possible that the black force particle does not exist: that the effects we observe derive from a different mechanism.

As my colleague wrote before her untimely death: Only two words in this research have meaning, and they are not [Quantum] [Blackness]

3. Sound

Strange to think that everything—modernity itself—is based on this force of which we know so little.

On the street, the body pulled and stretched the fabric of the day. A bend suddenly detectable. There.

Afterward there were flowers, teddy bears, baseball caps. What some called “afterglow.” Others called it “a pile of trash.”4

Ripple effect.

A cry.

Acoustic metrics share certain behaviors with those we expect from a theory of quantum blackness.

Notes toward a theory of sonic horizons. Notes toward a theory of boom. Toward interruption. Marks in a circle, like a map.

She wanted so much to understand a body on the street.

Cosmic script. Cartography of a nervous system.

How she made me laugh, singing Harry Nilsson’s “Can’t Live.” Crooning into the neck of a bottle of wine.

Consider sound waves in fluid. Supersonic waves can generate a “dumb hole,” like a black hole. A well of silence.

Can’t live.

I sit at her window. Sounds of the street. The roar of cars. Raised voices somewhere. Footsteps pounding on the stairs. Door slam. Laughter. Sometimes there’s a moaning, and it’s mine. I hear myself and stop. A “fleeting chirp.” A “faint rising tone.”5

Physical effects can propagate back across a sonic horizon.

Notes toward a theory of posthumous vibration.

At the end, I took dictation for her. She was lying on the bed. There was her voice, and the slight tapping from my keyboard. I remember thinking that there could be no more delicate sound. Blackness is the weakest force, but its range is infinite.

Infinite. So I work in the afterglow. Among the echoes.

To be particle and wave is to be fragment and direction.

As my colleague wrote before her untimely death: Only two words in this research matter, and they are [Notes] [Toward]


1 Audre Lorde, “Interview with Adrienne Rich,” 1981.
2 Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 1952/1967.
3 Ashon Crawley, “Information, Deformation, On Formation,” 2016.
4 Trymaine Lee, “Iconic Michael Brown memorial torn down,” MSNBC, July 20, 2015.
5 Dennis Overbye, “Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory,” New York Times, Feburary 11, 2016.

Sofia Samatar is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria and winner of the John W. Campbell Award, the Crawford Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Her new novel The Winged Histories is now available from Small Beer Press.
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