An Endless Suddenness: Thinking with music that resists resistance

Open School East
The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ

Sunday 12 June 2016
1.00pm to 4.00pm

Free. limited availability, e-mail here to reserve a place.


A public workshop and listening session with theorist and poet Fred Moten and The Otolith Collective presented with Open School East.

Recent debates conducted in the UK between journalists and musicians on the state of black British music articulate an inchoate anxiety over its supposed eclipse of protest and its presumed burial of any politics of resistance. These laments have provoked counter-responses that refute the grounds of the former by nominating tracks such as Shutdown or Street Politician by grime MCs such as Skepta and Novelist which exemplify and amplify the affective tone of political antagonism in Britain today. In the US, and at the same time, critics and fans have argued over whether recordings such as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or D’ Angelo’s Black Messiah succeed in intensifying and dramatizing the general disturbance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement as it has instituted itself from 2014 onwards.

In an unpublished and as yet incomplete text entitled Partial Correspondence as a Preliminary Theory or the Epic, Fred Moten proposes that another recording, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, could be heard as ‘the album of the #BlackLivesMatter movement’. To elucidate the import of such a claim, Moten goes on to write, would require a ‘painstaking analysis of a certain economy of comfort and discomfort’. It would entail going to ‘a certain amount of trouble’.

The invitation of the public workshop entitled An Endless Suddenness then, is to move within the trouble initiated by this statement in so far as it animates and is animated by an analysis of the kinds of comfort afforded by music as resistance and the kinds of discomfort engendered by music that resists dominant understandings of resistance. An Endless Suddenness thus aims to practice collective listening as a form of black study that cuts and extends debates that have largely been conducted by and contained within the exclusive precincts of the brotherhood of male music journalism. Beyond the limited vocabulary set by the recording industry and reinforced by music media, An Endless Suddenness aims to practice thinking with music as a mode of black study that moves within the study of blackness and the blackness of study.

An Endless Suddenness is informed by the words of the dancer and choreographer K. J. Roberts who describes encounters with certain forms of music that bring one face to face with an ‘endless suddenness’ that ‘reinforces one’s desire to hear things differently.’ As Fred Moten suggests, it is a matter of listening or looking ‘for what will confirm your desire to be other than what you are’ rather than looking or listening for ‘something that confirms who you are right now’.

This will be an open dialogue between all present hosted by The Otolith Collective with contributions by Open School East Associate Artist Joel Sines, Open School East Associates and guests.



Fred Moten Biography
Fred Moten is Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of Arkansas, Poems with Jim Behrle. I ran from it but was still in it, Hughson’s Tavern, B Jenkins, The Feel Trio, and the critical works In the Break. The Aesthetics of the Black Radial Tradition and The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study with Stephano Harney.


An Endless Suddenness: Thinking with music that resists resistance has been devised by The Otolith Collective in collaboration with Open School East Associate Joel Sines who has organized this event on behalf of SOULESSNESS, the public programming group founded by Anneke Kampman and Joel Sines


Courtesy Fred Moten


Project Category
curated programme