The InterGalactic Discipline of SUN RA
This interview with SUN RA, the master musician, poet and interplanetary prophet, was originally taped and edited by John Sinclair in December, 1966 for use in Guerilla, a Detroit newspaper of cultural revolution which John co-edited. The interview was never run in Guerilla, but instead made its first appearance in issue No. 1 of the original Warren-Forest SUN, published in 1967 by Trans-Love Energies. We are reprinting it here on the occasion of Sun Ra’s return performance at this year’s Blues & Jazz Festival.
JS: I guess we can start talking about the planet . . .
SUN RA: Well, the planet is in such a bad condition that it’s inexpressible. It was bad enough, but now it’s got worse. They’re not sure about their politics, they’re not sure about education and philosophy, they’re not sure about anything . . . so you’ve got complete confusion.
JS: Utter Chaos . . .
SUN RA: They had utter chaos, then ultra chaos . . . it’s knocking on everybody’s door. In the past things came and knocked on a few people’s doors, but this is different. It’s like the atomic bomb, it knocks on everybody’s door. That makes a different story. Everybody’s involved, and it’s not to be denied. Governments know it . . . because people are changing, a lot of people are getting so they just don’t care, you know, something is happening but they just don’t have any go-it-iveness or initiative. So how are you going to rule if you have people like that? If you got people who don’t care? So, actually, the rulers on this planet are in trouble. And I sympathize with them. The people are slowing down more and more, and they’re changing every day. But I’m not really talking about freedom, I’m not even interested in it, because that doesn’t help anybody. The only freedom they’ll get is over in a cemetery; then they’ll be free. It’s a scientific truth: people are only free when they’re dead. It’s a balanced equation. And they’re always talking about peace – they’ll get that too, when they’re dead. Because the whole thing is very simple; they’re free when they’re dead, and they’re at rest, and at peace when they’re dead. It actually says so: rest in peace. So when the United States be talking about peace, it’s talking about death. They mean that kind of peace. And when the people got a Prince of Peace, the Prince would have to be Death. Of course, this is another kind of mathematics I’m doing . . . it’s something that they can see if they’ll just go and look in the cemetery. There’s a lot of people out there. And they are showing you what peace is. Because they are AT peace – final peace, definite, absolute peace. Nothing disturbs their peace. Now they’re free, too – and nothing bothers their freedom. They’re free to be dead. I’ve had a lot of difficulty trying to tell people that they should investigate THAT peace and THAT freedom, because what I’m trying to tell them is too incredible to be true. They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but I know one thing - I balance my equations, and I balance them scientifically, and I know that that’s the main thing bothering this planet. It’s come out in the open now – the only country that’s causing all the wars is the one talking about freedom and peace. They got all that power - the power of peace and freedom . . . and equality. The only equality they got too, is that all of them die. I notice that all of them don’t have the same amount of money, though, or the same amount of opportunity – so it’s really not true.
JS: You say you’ve changed the name of the band from the Myth-Science Arkestra to the Astro-Infinity Arkestra . . .
SUN RA: Well, actually I didn’t CHANGE it – that’s just one of the dimensions. Because when I play sometimes I use “Myth-Science” – I’ve got some songs that come under that – and then I had some under Solar Arkestra . . . and then I got the Astro-Infinity – and all of them mean different things to me. All of them are based on these other planes, I mean I think people need them now. But it’s not religious – I’m not the least bit religious. Because churches don’t do anything but bring people . . . peace. What I’m talking about is DISCIPLINE – that’s what people need. All of them need that. Instead of dissipating their energies and striving for things that will never be, they need to discipline themselves so they can do something beneficial for people.
JS: What does the music have to do with this, then?
SUN RA: The music . . . a lot of musicians are quite afraid – of stepping beyond tradition, into something that would require new ways of thinking and new ways of action. I appreciate every musician, I don’t care what kind of music they play. But unfortunately some jazz musicians speak against this form of music – the new form of music – and this is very bad because it’s very narrow minded. It’s not right. It’s imperative that all musicians stop criticizing their brother musicians because they’re innovators and they really should be putting up some sums and be right there with them listening or helping because THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO LOSE. In fact they could invest in them and MAKE some money. Now they’re trying to be selfish in an art that you’re not supposed to be selfish in. Because you can go all the way back and see that the musicians used to be minstrels – troubadours – they weren’t selfish they were out there PLAYING FOR PEOPLE, just like people need music now. Even the Army can’t get along without it – they got their band, and the Marines and the Navy and the Air Force got their band and EVERYTHING HAS ITS MUSIC. They got to have that. Now why can’t PEOPLE just have bands? They’re fighting too, just like any soldier they’re fighting a battle to exist every day and their morale gets low, too. I think they do deserve something because they’re paying so much taxes and they’re paying the politicians’ salary and they’re keeping the thing going so they should not be deprived of music and entertainment, I‘m not “righteous” but I know that spirits can tune in on other spirits, and these people’s spirits are plenty low.
So you come down to the point where you’ve got to have a better world. My contribution is in the music. Now to some people it seems like the music doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m talking about, but it does. Because music is a language and I’m speaking these things over in it. My music is about a better place for people, not to have to die to get there, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a place where they can live a method out – my equation is that it’s very bad to live because if you live you die and if you die you live . . . because there’s an equation set up that’s fooling folks. And they have to face it, because I have to face it, you see. And that goes for preachers, too. I feel sorry for them. I don’t know of anybody l feel more sorry for, unless it’s the President of the United States or the people who are ruling. Because they got a JOB on their hands. Because they’re changing ages – one age moves over into another one, and the rulers – they’re in TROUBLE. You’ve got not only a change of age, but a change of laws – the law that has been the law of this planet has moved over to no longer be the law. Now when that happens, and since this planet for thousands of years has been up under that law of death and destruction, it’s moving over into something else which I choose to call MYTH, a MYTH-SCIENCE, because it’s something that people don’t know anything about. That’s why I’m using the name MYTH-SCIENCE ARKESTRA, because I’m interested in happiness for people, which is just a myth, because they’re not happy. I would say that the synonym for myth is happiness – because that’s why they go to the show, to the movies, they be sitting up there under these myths trying to get themselves some happiness. A lot of people say that I’m just playing around, but it’s not like that. I know music from head to tail, I know all the laws of music, I was reared up playing classics and I went to college and studied music for teacher’s training, so I KNOW music. But I’m just following my own way, and I know what I’m doing.