Eric Freeman and David Gelernter define a lifestream as follows:
...a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document you create and every document other people send you is stored in your lifestream. The tail of your stream contains documents from the past (starting with your electronic birth certificate). Moving away from the tail and toward the present, your stream contains more recent documents -- papers in progress or new electronic mail; other documents (pictures, correspondence, bills, movies, voice mail, software) are stored in between. Moving beyond the present and into the future, the stream contains documents you will need: reminders, calendar items, to-do lists.
The concept of a lifestream as a forward-moving arrow that begins with your birth certificate depends on a linear notion of time that conflicts with Afrofuturist thought. Afrofuturist creations, which draw on the past to imagine the future, represent time through a number of shapes--circles, constellations, nets--that all oppose the line. Consider the sankofa image in the center of the poster John Jennings created for the event:
The loops express a consciousness of time as cyclical and tangled, making space for the non-linear time conceptions of many African belief systems, making space to think about trauma, about the time-traveling flashbacks of post-traumatic stress, about the moment your heart will pound tomorrow for an event that happened yesterday, about bodies in time, steeped in the lifestream, floundering in it, drowning, swimming, stretching together, buoyant, changing course.
And so when I look at that definition of "lifestream" I see everything in it that rejects its own linear model. The diary reread and relived. The documents you create and the ones other people send you mingling like the thoughts that flew to and fro between adrienne maree brown and me as we discussed problems with our stories. Our unwritten stories do not yet exist, but they are documents in our common lifestream, they are moving away from the tail and toward the present. I think of the work the activists from Ferguson shared with us, work that is not complete, papers in progress. And all the materials stored in between--the films of M. Asli Dukan and Dennis Leroy Kangalee, the music of Be Steadwell and Colored Girls Hustle, those visual and aural signals that persist, reappear, ring in your head, inspire. Moving beyond the present and into the future I think of Walidah Imarisha's claim that all organizing is science fiction. I think of everything I will keep from that weekend. Rhythm. Gravity. Entanglement with others.
Every laugh, every hug, every conversation, every argument, every image, every sound represents a document in a shared lifestream--a stream of black life that persists. For yes, genocide can fail.
These are the documents you will need: reminders of the past, calendar items to come, to-do lists.