The visionary free jazz musician and Afro-Futurist Sun Ra was a visiting artist and professor at the University of California-Berkeley in 1971. Here is fascinating audio from a lecture he gave in his Spring course, “The Black Man in the Cosmos.”
The reading list for his course:
The Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Radix: A New Way of Making Logarithms.
Alexander Hislop: The Two Babylons.
The Theosophical works of Madame Blavatsky.
The Book of Oahspe.
Henry Dumas: Ark of Bones.
Henry Dumas: Poetry for My People, eds. Hale Charfield & Eugene Redmond, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1971.
Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing, eds. Leroi Jones & Larry Neal, New York: William Morrow, 1968.
David Livingstone: Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa.
Theodore P. Ford: God Wills the Negro.
Archibald Rutledge: God’s Children.
Stylus, vol. 13, no. 1 (Spring 1971) — a black literary journal published byTemple University in Philadelphia.
John S. Wilson: Jazz. Where It Came From, Where It’s At, United States Information Agency.
Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan: Black Man of the Nile and His Family, Alkibu Ian Books, 1972.
Constantin Francois de Chasseboeuf, Comte de Volney: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires, and the Law of Nature, London: Pioneer Press, 1921 (originally published 1791).
The Source Book of Man’s Life and Death (Ra’s description; = The King James Bible).
Pjotr Demianovitch Ouspensky: A New Model of the Universe. Principles of the Psychological Method in Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion and Art, New York: Knopf 1956.
Frederick Bodmer: The Loom of Language. An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages, ed. Lancelot Hogben, New York: Norton & Co. 1944.
As Ra said:
I’m talking about something that’s so impossible it can’t possibly be true. But it’s the only way the world’s gonna survive, this impossible thing. My job is to change five billion people to something else. Totally impossible. But everything that’s possible’s been done by men, I have to deal with the impossible. And when I deal with the impossible and am successful, it makes me feel good because I know that I’m not bullshittin’.
In 1972, a feature-length Afrofuturist/blaxploitation film, Space is the Place, was made based on Sun Ra’s Berkeley lectures. You can watch the complete film on Youtube.