The Apocalyptic Tabula Rasa of Black Messianic Invention

Black Faith and Pure Means in Fanonism’s Insurrectionist Christo-Fiction

  • Andrew Santana Kaplan Emory University
Keywords: Afro-pessimism, Frantz Fanon, Christo-fiction, apocalyptic, messianic


Modernity is structured around a prior decision to which it is constitutively blind: the World’s perverse invention and simultaneous foreclosure of blackness. This is Afro-pessimism’s non-philosophical insight—informing its oraxiomatic demand for the end of the World. But Afro-pessimism’s apocalyptics should be understood etymologically as well as connotatively: its apo-kalupsis is a radically immanent un-covering of the World’s anti-black grammar that constitutes Society’s katechontic restraint of gratuitous freedom. Before Laurelle demanded we “make a tabula rasa out of the future,” Fanon gestured toward gratuitous freedom’s radical break in describing the “tabula rasa which from the outset defines any decolonization.” Fanon models as much in observing that, as an incarnation of blackness, “I am endlessly creating myself ” in accordance with his oraxiom of “introducing invention into existence.” In these ways, I suggest Fanon is practicing a black-christo-fiction. Accordingly, I non-philosophically take up James H. Cone black theology of liberation: if modernity’s cross is the lynching tree, then Afro-pessimism’s apocalyptic thought is immanently messianic. As such, the black is paradigmatic of the (Christ-)Victim-in-person. Therefore, the invention of generic justice is necessarily immanent in the abolition of anti-blackness, making the paradigmatic affirmation of blackness the World’s fundamental heresy.

But how does one inhabit the black messianic in Afro-pessimism’s apocalyptic announcement? “In its ultimate essence,” Laurelle suggests, “faith is messianic: it is an immanent praxis for a deindividualized messiah.” Faith is the cloning function of Afro-pessimism’s black-christo-fiction—a faith experiment that is “a sort of nonacting or nonreaction to the world, but one capable of acting by transforming the world without, therefore, [re-]creating it.” That is, following Afro-pessimism’s model, Black faith is the heretical means by which one under-goes the generic-cloning of messianic-blackness. I argue that black messianic faith is the oraxiom of a paradigmatic fidelity to blackness, which, in-the-last-instance, immanently enables the coming insurrection.

Author Biography

Andrew Santana Kaplan, Emory University

Andrew Santana Kaplan (they/them/their) is a doctoral student in Comparative Literature at Emory University, studying at the intersections of radical black thought/aesthetics, continental philosophy (of religion), and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Their first article, “Notes Toward (Inhabiting) the Black Messianic in Afro-pessimism’s Apocalyptic Thought,” initiates a project elaborating the apocalyptic/messianic signatures in black study to theorize a radical fidelity to blacks’ singular positionality and destroying the (anti-black) World - which this Oraxiom piece attempts to extend and elaborate. Subsequent essays currently under review further extend this paradigm through what Andrew posits as "anagrammatical liturgies of allegorical reading." Each of these pieces respectively engage Richard Wright’s novella, The Man Who Lived Underground, the season four finale of Black Mirror, «Black Museum,» and Alex Garland’s film, Annihilation, as allegorical liturgies that can anagrammatically attune readers to (inhabiting) the exigent demand for an apocalyptic tabula rasa of black messianic invention.

How to Cite
Kaplan, A. (2020). The Apocalyptic Tabula Rasa of Black Messianic Invention. Oraxiom: A Journal of Non-Philosophy, 1(1), 105-121. Retrieved from