This is a Spenglerian critique, and as such I’ll be operating with Spengler’s practice of “spiritual physiognomy”. Physiognomy simply means “knowing from the physical”, and was a branch of science (once popular, long “discredited”, and thus most likely true), which asserted that one can predict a person’s inner characteristics from their physical appearance. Physiognomy of the spirit is the practice of using the products of the soul; i.e. art, literature, philosophy, architecture, in order to determine the characteristics of a racial soul or cultural world-feeling. To Spengler, this “cultural soul” was the prime phenomenon of history to be studied, and his focus was on well-developed peoples. He didn’t spare too much mental energy on primitive peoples, and for the purposes of his philosophy, there was no need to.
It’s been a good hundred years since Decline of the West was published, and certain ‘primitive peoples’ have made a good stab at culture in the following century. So I think his methods and assumptions can be applied to the African, despite his not having had a fully-developed civilization. To Spengler, every Culture has a prime symbol that acts as the means with which it interprets its universe. As a truncated example, the prime symbol of the West would be infinite space, and correspondingly, the force vector. And as a result, the idea of the inner world, free will, and moral agency. In art, contrapuntal music, the gothic spire, the character drama, and perspective-based painting. In science, non-Euclidian geometry, calculus, the function, the steam engine, aviation, etc. It also has late-stage degenerate forms that more or less describe one part or another of the body of leftism.
I’ll just throw the main premise out here first: the prime symbol of the African soul is the demonic possession.
Don’t believe me? The now-classic meme of “he’s a good boy, he dindu nuffin” falls very differently on African ears than our Western. The African sees nothing false about a confessed criminal not having committed the crime in the moral realm, because he believes that impulsive passions are external to the individual. To us, the bestial, vicious animal nature is a part of ourselves to be constrained and mastered, and the failure to do so represents a personal fault. The African deals with the problem of human animality by placing it above the human self. Both excessive genius and impulsive violence are believed to be the work of spirits which, sometimes randomly, sometimes not, come to possess a person and then leave them. The African considers it a monstrous unfairness and hypocrisy that a man can be a ‘good boy’ for sixteen years of life, commit one horrible crime, and then be executed or imprisoned for the rest of his life. Only a consistent pattern of demonic possession, or the intent to infuse evil spirits into one’s own body, can mark an African as evil in the eyes of the fellow African. He considers it perfectly normal that a good person will be seized by bouts of uncontrollable violence or lust, and should not face consequences for acting on them. Even Africans like Martin Luther King or Jimi Hendrix, sacralized by our culture, are prone to this. Both were men seized by violent passions, kept absolutely private and nearly erased from history.
Because of this, African politics and rhetoric universally center on removing pernicious influences from the environment. The fault is never with the moral agency of the persons so afflicted, but always on demonic entities such as “the legacy of colonialism”, “institutional racism”, etc. Sometimes, the evil influence comes from a physical fetish that exercises a form of black magic. The problem of violence would be solved by getting the drugs and guns out of the ghetto. Or by moving Africans to the magic dirt that projects a good juju onto him. The human himself, to the African, is considered in his uninfluenced form to be a contented head of cattle without agency. The African is always tempted towards millennialism and utopianism; such a condition, in his mind, is reached when evil spirits and fetishes are exorcised entirely and humanity reverts to a peaceful state.
We see this state in many older Africans. To our eyes, the youthful passions and impulsiveness cool with age, creating the serene and pleasant Negro present in the romantic culture of the American South. (Not unrealistically- they did and do exist) To the African eye, this represents a closing-off from the spirit world, with the benefit on the one hand of being protected from evil spirits, and the detriment on the other of being unable to access the positive spirits of manic inspiration. Other older Africans become quite insane; the modern citygoer will recognize the detrimental form of this in the homeless, who often babble to themselves in languages real or imaginary, or accost passersby with inane and nonsensical questions. The positive form of this is in the shaman, preacher or artist; the manically inspired. Ben Carson, for example, who is apparently a uniquely talented surgeon despite being barely coherent when he speaks.
As a result, African culture centers around emulation of great figures, and seeks to inspire spirits to possess the body. The Hero-African is possessed of the ability to channel powerful spirits at his own discretion; a genius who can access powerful talents on demand. Thus African art revolves around the spontaneous performance. The freestyle rap battle, improvisational jazz, the sermon of the Baptist preacher; all these seek to demonstrate the individual’s prowess in summoning a genius that transcends the African’s everyday abilities. And all his music and art seeks to induce suggestibility to this possession.
The point of music, to the African, is to transfer the abilities and emotions of the artist into oneself. The artist, channeling a powerful spirit, becomes a spirit, his audience the vessel. Rhythmic, unlike melodic or symphonic music, seeks to stifle the thought and the free imagination. It drowns out and interrupts thought, leaving the listener suggestible, resonating with his animal instincts. Similarly, the abruptness and disunity of improvisational music disrupts a coherent thought-picture and forces the experience of music down to the limbic. And as a result, African music always seeks to effect a change in the body, whether to gird one for battle, to loosen sexual inhibitions, or even to relax and return the body to a state of placidity.
We can observe the way simile and metaphor are deployed in rap; no Western poet would say “I am Achilles” or “I am Zeus”, but this construction is ubiquitous in rap, as the African seeks the influence of powerful beings and heroes by invoking them. This is the origin of the ghetto custom of making t-shirts with a murdered loved one’s face on them, of their obsession with designer brands and named football jerseys, and of their tendency to adorn themselves with gold ornaments and jewels when they can afford to do so. All of them represent the desire to channel the powers of a beneficial or desirable “other”.
Note that belief in actual demonic possession is still persistent among African Christians and Muslims, some of them going to brutal lengths to “exorcise” their children or neighbors. But every African feels this certitude in their souls, even if expressing it in the midst of Western civilization is low-status. The introduction of monotheism to the African did not enlighten him or change his modes of thought; rather, it coalesced all good spirits into “God” and all evil into the “Devil”. Or “Halal” and “Haram”. One simply need witness black Baptist mass to get a sense of what I mean.
The centrality of possession to the African is a negation of human agency as the European understands it, an attempt to animalize (that is to say simplify) the nature of man and to place his complexities of extreme good and extreme evil, of extreme talent and crippling disability, into the ownership of a mysterious spirit world that is felt intuitively and never wholly comprehended. He considers himself inwardly always the moved and never the mover, the horse and not the rider. His inner humanity is without form and identity, a man of clay to be shaped by a mystical other. The aggressively bombastic individualism that we see in a Kanye or other rap mogul, or famous athlete, occurs only in the West, in an aping of the apparent spirit of its success, often with significant White admixture in the individual himself. If you begin to listen for this self-denial of agency in African culture, should you have the stomach for it, you will hear it everywhere.
To the African, the white man is himself a demonic entity, or is collectively under the influence of a demonic entity. His very consistency and seeming immunity to wild swings of emotion and inspiration is inhuman. The will-to-power that he possesses in his endeavors is a will possessed, in the African cosmos, only by spirits, by demons. Only the demon has a consistent will; a consistent mischievousness or violence, or a constant love or benevolence, that alights on and departs from humanity on a whim. Thus the European will always and unfailingly be regarded with suspicion and hostility by the African, just as the honest European sees in the African an unpredictable and inconsistent animal. (It is a shame, of course, that the European has the tendency to try and tame animals.)
What kind of civilization could eventually blossom and take root in this spiritual ground, I cannot even begin to imagine. The safest guess would be nothing. It goes without saying that the African soul is wholly incompatible with European law, society, and culture. Only centuries of evolution could alter this fundamental nature of the African. Excepting, of course, the rare “Uncle Tom” who, like the Hon. Clarence Thomas, sees in White culture a source of good juju to be channeled and emulated rather than as a source of evil voodoo that oppresses and violates. And even the exceptionally smart African probably regards the mathematical formula, or the scientific process, for example, as a cargo-cultish magical ritual that produces a desired result upon successful emulation.