“Exotic Fagdom”: The Baraka of Surplus Love in a Transnational Context SUELGHEE LEE
Amiri Baraka’s internationalist Marxism-the final ideological banner of his politicized aesthetic-represents the apotheosis of what Fred Moten calls Baraka’s “antinomian opening of the field” (“necessity, immensity, and crisis” 3). In recent years, Baraka is interested in the affirmation of Black diasporic identity around which to coalesce politically toward transnational revolutionary upheaval, and this has entailed a spatial imaginary much broader than his Black cultural nationalism allowed. For readers familiar with Baraka, this point is obvious, yet it is part of a fascinating riddle surrounding the concerns of this book project, particularly in Wlad Godzich’s opening chapter in this volume. Baraka’s openness represents not only “an endless dialectical struggle with despair as inevitability” (Moten, In the Break 99); his openness suggests an affective optimism that syncs neatly with Godzich’s axiom regarding identity-as-space: “We are the solution, we, with our bodies” (Chapter 1, this volume). Transnationalism for Baraka has meant declaring solidarity with fellow titans of a spatially broad Black radical tradition, including figures like Ngugi Wa’Thiongo and Aimé Césaire, as well as movements like Negritude and Negrissmo. “In the Tradition,” arguably Baraka’s most accomplished poem from the 1980s, makes note of “our family strewn around the world” and includes a roll call of a transnational tradition of Black radicalism, including Aimé Césaire, Léon Damas, René Depestre, Jacques Romain, and Nicolas Guillen (Baraka, Reader 305). Marxism has provided the hermeneutic to link up with such traditions in order to emphasize a worldly conception of Black revolution based on “a wide panafrican world” (305). As Baraka writes in a 1998 essay: “No one lives anywhere at anytime to be oppressed” (550). Can we imagine these words coming from Baraka’s typewriter during the Black Arts Movement?