Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun Ra, El Saturn and Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground 1954-68John Corbett, Anthony Elms and Terry Kapsalis
Philosopher, Afro-futurist, and jazz legend Sun Ra (1914–93) constructed much of his complicated public persona during his sojourn in Chicago in the mid-1950s. Working with a still-shadowy underground fraternal organization, Ra amassed a library of books on the occult, Egyptology, race studies, Theosophy, and religion—all in service of drawing elliptical connections between these disparate bodies of knowledge. This work became the foundation of the personal mythology Ra employed in the 1960s when he began fronting his Myth-Science Arkestra and started drawing attention from more mainstream jazz fans.
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This book is about “an exhibition about Sun Ra” (rather than Sun Ra per se.) The exhibition was at Hyde Park Art Center-which is devoted strictly to the visual (rather than musical) arts- this, at least in part, accounts for the rather arcane focus of the exhibition . What might be interesting to view in person doesn’t translate all that well to the printed page-especially since the print isn’t all that easy to read. Including photos of the band and/or venues where they played (or displaying some of the outfits they wore) would have made this “strictly visual” exhibit much better-but it’s still worth a look if you’re into Sun Ra.