Amatoritsero Ede


Austin Clarke – Darkness Visible

(a posthumous interview)

Amatoritsero Ede: I have always wanted to have an interview with you, Mr. Clarke. I kept postponing it. I once asked Dr George Elliot Clarke, your brother from another father, I guess –  since you share the same last name – if he could introduce me, which he promised to. But I never got back to the subject with him because I got distracted by one thing or the other. Unfortunately, I was not fast enough before the grim reaper knocked on your door. I did not realise he was so close by you. I apologize profusely. Fortunately, in my days as a monk in another world, I did learn some esoteric arts. I decided to use some occult knowledge to travel the astral world and meet you on the other side for this interview. Surely, you don’t mind an outer-worldly, out-of-body chat do you –  on earth this would be considered a posthumous interview?

Austin Clarke: Quite the opposite, Amatoritsero, I don’t mind an interview in the fourth or even fifth or sixth dimension.  Are we in the fifth?

A.E.: Our world… my world … is three dimensions – length, breadth and solid. Since you – your soul – has left your physical body (no one ever dies by the way), you moved out of those material dimensions and are now in a fourth and bodiless and invisible one, I believe. That is, if you have not progressed to even higher levels. Yes, you are not limited by gross matter anymore. Not by colour, by the way, come to think of it, which can be as heavy as any form of matter.

A.C.: It is why WEB DuBois correctly predicted that the problem of the 20th century would be the colour line. I think his brother, Alain Locke, in his New Negro, insisted that the colour line will persist throughout the 21st century. Colour is indeed heavy as an unnecessarily racialized quality – heavy as a winter coat which burdens you and impedes you, even when you do need the melanin as environmental protection. This is why I was such a reluctant Canadian.

A.E.: I was going to get to the subject of your reticence in taking a Canadian citizenship. But first. How is it out here in ‘Vaikunta’; do you feel claustrophobic, not being in our world, in the great wide open plains of Canada and the large expanse of –?

A.C: You make me laugh a Barbadian laugh! Your world is so tiny it is like a grain of sand on an endless sea shore. Look at all material creation, including earth and the galaxies. They are almost limitless. But the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu Scriptures, says all that material creation is like a little blot, a tiny stain, on the spiritual sky. Imagine the vastness, magnificence and infinitude of spiritual creation. Those earthly expanses you talk of – cannot be compared to the freedom of being unfettered, bodiless. “Poor wordless body in its fumbling ways” as the South African poet, Dennis Brutus, says.  Having no body and no colour, because of which spiritually ignorant humans vilify and demonise you, is a great experience. By the way is Vaikunta not the final resting place of the soul, according to the Bhagavad Gita?

A.E.: Yes, it is. When you need not reincarnate anymore as a living entity because you have learnt all the spiritual lessons for which you needed a human body, you rise to Vaikunta as a spirit soul in pure worship of the godhead – Krishna, Christ, Allah – or any other name we humans call it/him/her in our usual divisive lack of understanding that the godhead maybe be many but is one and the same, no matter how we differently name the idea.

A.C.: Ah…! I am not sure I want to reincarnate and come to your world anymore. Those 81 years in your world (or prison) had better be my last incarnation or is it incarceration!?. I brek-up from racism, sexism, ageism, war, injustice, especially brek-up from dispossession and lack of privilege due to my blackness –

A.E.: Excuse me Mr. Clarke, sir. But you were privileged!

A.C.: Amatoritsero Ede! I think you are being a devil’s advocate here. My foot biting me! You see, I was not privileged at all or rather what appears to be privilege – my success as a writer, my access to print capital, was fought for every inch of the way. I suffered lack because of it and the typical writer’s poverty. Rather what I was in your world is “Darkness visible,” to pun the English poet John Milton. And don’t call me “Clarke”; that’s a human name… Call me ‘Guru Hari Das.’ I am now the servant of the servant of the servant of the godhead in these realms.

A.E.: Guru Hari Das! Okay. But for the purpose of this interview…please. Yes, “darkness visible” … I know of that oxymoron from Milton’s paradise Lost. It is in chapter one of that work about the fall of man.

A.C.: For argument’s sake, one could say I had some empowerment towards the end. But it was that time that death came with his dark hood and sickle for me…In my old age, at the time when a valiant warrior should be enjoying the fruits of his labours. Now if I were white, at any age I ‘d have been really privileged. My successes would have catapulted me to unimaginable places, brought incredible wealth, and so on… Imagine… at the foot of the fire, when I should be in my salad days, death comes fi me.

A.E: Would you like to reincarnate as a white man so that you could experience the privilege of whiteness?

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Adesina July 31, 2016 at 9:24 pm

Actually it was after I read the editorial that I saluted you on the general page.
I believe it is difficult for a “black” person that finds himself in “white” country to be properly assimilated. The people I really feel for are the ones that are born in a foreign country by immigrants. These offsprings do not know where to belong for example a Nigerian couple going to deliver their baby in the U S for the sole purpose of obtaining American citizenship for the baby. Is the baby an American or a Nigerian? Oh I see! He has a dual citizenship. All well and good. The question is where would his allegiance be if there was an altercation between Nigeria and America.
Where did you get your occult knowledge? I hope you are putting it to good use.
Using Dante’s classification was Mr Clarke in purgatorio,inferno,or paradiso when you met him?
I would have loved to develop my comments but there is no NEPA and the glare from the screen of my system is hurting my eyes!

Web developer August 1, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Sina, Mr. Austin Clarke was not in purgagory. Purgatory is a christian myth. Clarke has moved on in the the next realm and is a very happy and blessed soul. I leant my occult arts in the monastery as an Hindu monk back in the day.

Lequanne August 1, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Great take on Austin Clarke post-humously! Who would’ve thought he’d be so open to do this, must’ve caught him in good spirits.

Web developer August 2, 2016 at 12:22 am

He was in high spirits and glad to be done with this earth!

Adesina August 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Hinduism. I don’t know about that. I thought it is the babalawo thing you are into. I would have wanted to be informed.
Well, I am glad to know that Clarke is now enjoying himself after suffering in hell (darkness visible) on earth.
Did you hug or shake hands when you met? This is because I don’t think a corporeal form can have a physical contact with the soul of another person

Web developer August 2, 2016 at 12:19 am

Sina, I was on the other side in ethereal form. There is no hugging or handshakes possible. I was there as pure spirit just like the soul of our dear departed master writer. I was a hindu monk. These days I am into Ifa, not actively. I would love to research it more.

Cajetan Iheka August 1, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Very fine work. The dead is never dead, indeed. There remains a connection between the living, the dead, and even the unborn. Bravo, Ama

Ralphie Edema August 3, 2016 at 12:47 am

I have always wondered what goes on after all these experiences life throws on us. I can not say I have found it… But, I welcome the possibility of having limitless possibilities.
I just think what we know about our lives and purpose of existence may just be a crumb from a bread that can not be measured. We can’t possibly know it all now though – besides our researches conducted by us, on us, has said our brains are only functioning at 10% (although this is not a proven fact – I say “the lack of evidence that something exists is not evidence it doesn’t). But then again – we may just be at our climax.
About the racial discrimination of blacks. Honestly, from personal experience I have never been racially discriminated (never left my Black populated country yet). But, I have read enough and talked to people enough to know and feel the pain of being racially discriminated. And like you and “late” Austin Clarke pointed out, the racial injustice is being treated “tactfully”. One writer said “Tact is making people feel at home; when that’s where you want them”.
Invigorating piece Uncle Ama.

sandra good August 12, 2016 at 7:11 am

Ama, I thought you took a rather brave, interesting and unconventional step in the context of your posthumous interview with Austin. I was surprised at the esoteric vein but then again maybe not so much. I liked the \’Bajan\’ touches and could hear those accents in my head as I read it. Ha Ha! … and wondered by \’Barbadian laugh\’ and what that would have sounded like coming from Austin Clarke? Will never know but that is not the most important aspect of this interview. I am blown away by the fact that after all these hundreds of years that the white supremacy attitudes of Europeans is still so entrenched in our society although slavery was abolished, apartheid done away with, seemingly! But alas only on the surface and we don\’t have to search far and wide to recognize the ugliness rearing it\’s head once more. I refer mostly to state of affairs for our southerly neighbours in the good ole USA. But what happens in the USA also affects and can infect the undercurrent and more subtle thread of racism that certainly exists in Canada as well. We don\’t want a Pandora\’s Box opening here as well.
I hope that the youth can be much more intelligent, sensitive and remain unscathed by poisonous attitudes that destroy our humanity. I trust that they will have a broader and more compassionate view of the world we live in. There is much work to be done and the works, experiences and views of accomplished writers, like Austin Clarke are important to remind us of that fact.
Good interview. Good work. Good points. Will have to work more on the Bajan tho.

Sola August 16, 2016 at 8:36 pm

The appropriate ese Ifá here is Ogúndá Méjí
Orúnmìlà ló dòdèdè ni bèrè
Ifá mo ní ta ló tó Alásàán bá ròkun?
This is a profound engagement with Clarke’s interventionist writings, Ama, as well as the circumstances we currently find ourselves. This is a good interview. And I think you should produce more editorials such as this.

Vanessa August 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Brilliant! This was an original, well- thought-out and captivating interview. It will provide some much- needed food for thought to anyone who will have a chance to read this amazing work.

Miklos Legrady August 16, 2016 at 10:01 pm

The Hindus say that the universe is trillions of years old but I think they are off by a few years… On a more serious note the issue of colour and racism… it might take another 100 years before all humans are considered equal… the internet will help educate the children of the racists, it’s always the younger generation… Some other comments… the freedom of being bodiless… I think it’s an illusion; the universe consists of limitations so that if one is removed another limitation appears elsewhere… same with gifts and talent… In Chinese philosophy the I CHING says that unlimited possibilities are not suited to man; if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless. To become strong, a man’s life needs the limitations ordained by duty and voluntarily accepted.

Which brings us to the question of privilege; it’s possible that privilege is an Ouroboros, that legendary serpent that eats it’s own tail, or else that privilege is circular ladder whose head joins it’s base, so we are all privileged compared to the ones below us and likewise there are more privileged above us… and possibly the notion of privilege does come full circle as in the song of the wealthy man by Simon and Garfunkel “Richard Cory went home one night and put a bullet through his head… but I, who work in his factory, how I wish that I could be, oh I wish that I could be… Richard Cory.”

But the most pressing issue is blackness in a white world, when we’re in a world in which the majority is ‘colored.’ Of course racism comes from strangers, the ignorant, the fearful. Even as a Caucasian, I was a Hungarian kid in a French school, then a French kid in an English school, knowing the role of the stranger, the minority. Which of course are yet miles apart from discrimination on the basis of colour. There’s hope that with the internet disseminating global information we learn to see all races as equal, as with global travel eventually we’ll grow up with other kids of different continents and colors and then colour will be a wonderful difference to be enjoyed rather than a barrier that marks the stranger. Even as there are bad people there are also others working to make a good thing of life, so there’s hope? Even at this minute the U.N. reports that war on this planet is on the downswing and at an all time low for the last 10 years. Yet I don’t think it’s being reborn as a white man to experience whiteness… instead it’s being reborn as wealthy and powerful, for they get the respect. Then we poorer ones, we writers and artists, may achieve that wealth and power if the world recognizes our genius… hee hee…

And finally the literary device of the interview with a dead man… One certainly runs the risk of solipsism yet what a brilliant solution. I imagine you may follow this up with interviews with famous writers / brilliant politicians, both of today and ages past, without needing to actually interview them, simply imagine what they would say if asked. It would be hard to discern or to disprove telepathy, for one. Forcing your brain to take on another’s personality to answer your questions may lead to actual channeling of souls, if that exists and is not some quaint delusion…

As a literary device it is inventive, as a wordsmith Amatoritsero Ede doesn’t disappoint; in so many issues as in this editorial we encounter piercing observation, complex yet well explained thoughts, beautiful and brilliant command of the language… and I’m not one to compliment freely but must recognize talent when I see it.

Futhi August 24, 2016 at 1:59 pm

This is a brilliant and courageous undertaking. You clearly succeeded Ama. I never expected an interview with a departed spirit could be so insightful let alone the complexities in achieving what you attempted to do. Well done.

A Katawala August 26, 2016 at 2:05 am

Thank you for introducing Austin Clarke to those of us who are encountering him for the first time. Thank you for this very creative interview.

Richard Ali October 1, 2016 at 9:39 pm

“Having no body and no colour, because of which spiritually ignorant humans vilify and demonise you, is a great experience.”

This is poignant. Thanks for this excellent interview. This is amazing literary necromancy. 🙂 I paused several times to ponder, the metaphor of darkness visible is stronger than ever as black lives and bodies are put to insist they matter and should not be erased. Rest in peace, *Mr. Clarke. Thanks ,Mr. Ede.

Chris Galvin October 15, 2016 at 12:20 am

Your piece put me in mind of Mark Abley’s outstanding book, Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott (Douglas & McIntyre, Oct. 11 2013). It was quite daring, as a nonfiction book. But the daring was a success, the result a book I feel should be taught in schools.
Your posthumous interview with Austin Clarke is a success too. Abley’s book is a deeply troubling study of a man who played a part in the attempted destruction of the soul of the Native People. Your interview is an enlightening and uplifting and also gloomy and cutting look at Clarke’s place in Canadian literature and society. Clarke’s place, but also the place of the Other. (So sad that we must have this concept of other at all.) You have woven together the words Clarke spoke and the words he might have spoken had you been able to meet before he left this astral plane for another. The result is a convincing interview with much to mull over.


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