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And Other Stories of Dirty Computer’ Opens The Next Chapter in Janelle Monáe’s Discography – The Daily Utah Chronicle


The Memory Librarian: And Other Dirty Computer Stories (Courtesy Harper Voyager)

“The Memory Librarian: And Other Dirty Computer Stories” (Courtesy Harper Voyager)

Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” universe sees the artist and actor -controlled an account that pushes the boundaries of what a concept album really is. “Dirty Computer” changed the idea of ​​concept albums – of which Monáe is no stranger, having previously created concept albums, including their first album, “The ArchAndroid.”

Monáe’s 2018 “Emotional Picture” evokes a collection of stories from the same universe asking the reader to reflect on the importance of memory in power schemes.

Dirty Computer Stories – The Book

Monáe’s “The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computers” was released in April 2022. A collection of five stories written in collaboration with other authors and storytellers, it expands the 2018 concept that Monáe’s album “Dirty Computer” and the accompanying film of the same name.

The book has stories set in Afrofuturistic world of dirty computers-where queerness, race, love and gender have become tools for freedom and a cause of oppression. Those who use these tools fearlessly and arrogantly label themselves as “dirty computers.” These themes are examined through memory and time in an increasingly unstable and opposition world where various bodies and beings are subjected to scrutiny as “cleansed.”

While the stories have nothing to do with Monáe’s character Jane 57821 from the film-they extend many of the same themes found in the album’s tracks and the overall concept of the film.

Monáe’s film centers on loyalty through the relationship between their character Jane 57821 and Tessa Thompson’s character Zen. This is an even more important aspect of the film to remember since Monáe came out non -binary. at the time of the book’s release.

Dirty Computer Stories – The Movie

The film discusses the concept of cameras that focus on different bodies. Jane 57821’s memories are broadcast for those in charge to erase them from her mind, just as the film itself is filmed for the viewer.

With situations of police violence and discussions of queerness, bodily autonomy and the resistance to established powers of listening to marginalized voices, the film is a touchstone and terrifying look at the serious and dramatic future of a totalitarian society.

The film stands right next to the book, making Monáe an unstoppable creative force.

Afrofuturistic Inspiration

At its core is the universe that Monáe created in “Dirty Computer,” and its various incarnations, see characters fighting for the ability to express identity and existence. It touches on ideas of privilege and status. Particular privilege of declaring identity.

If “The Memory Librarian” truly echoes the Afrofuturism of Octavia Butler and Nnedi Okorafor as it aspires, the collection will stand out among some of the most timeless and necessary Black literary voices. The film itself already demonstrates Monáe’s ability to incorporate Afrofuturistic elements. The gold-gilded costumes, emotional monologue and connection between music and activism seem like a logical topic to interpret on the page.

Monáe has shown themselves to be a multidisciplinary artist in the past. The universe they create in “Dirty Computer” promises to be one of their most ambitious projects to date.

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