Saturday, July 09, 2005
Tricknology and Devilishment
“Tricknology and Devilishment aren’t words”
“I don’t use them because they aren’t in the dictionary”
I have heard it all. I have heard ‘academics’ question the usage of the above words. I have run across Gods whom have a little bit of ‘education’ whom are now ‘not limited’ to 120 degrees (whatever the funk that means). What they all have in common is that they both don’t question the status quo. They both are more comfortable accepting the view point of the ‘majority’ as if ‘majority’ is equal to being right.
I Knowledge 120 degrees. I have a college education. I am able to make Understanding Understood as to the meaning of both tricknology and devilishment no matter what company that I am in; whether I am on the corner or in the classroom.
Tricknology and Devilishment are both words which are rooted in 120 degrees. When a group of people utilize a certain ‘sound’ and ascribe to it a meaning it becomes a word. All words are first rooted in the mind and then become manifested. To be specific they are actually words when they are in mind.
There are whole cultures which are oral and they don’t have dictionaries. I guess that they don’t have a whole language because none of their words are in a ‘dictionary’. I guess that people don’t use certain words UNTIL they are validated by ‘Webster’. I find that ironic in that some of the people who ‘don’t’ use tricknology or devilishment used ‘bling bling’ before it was put in the ‘dictionary’. I guess ‘slang’ words ain’t real words to them either in that ‘slang’ isn’t in your ‘average’ dictionary. I guess that the whole hosts of words that scientists, doctors, and technicians utilize aren’t ‘real’ words either because they are in specialized dictionaries and not in ‘common’ dictionaries.
Probably didn’t listen to or play jazz music until whites started playing it. They didn’t use ‘cool’ until Beatniks started saying it. Didn’t get ‘high’ until Hippies started smoking grass. Didn’t hit a ‘blunt’ until white rappers started smoking ‘em. They weren’t ‘funky’ until the Red Hot Chilli Peppers got on the stage.
So in order to ‘appease’ the ‘higher educated’ crowd here are some ‘academic references for them from Yusuf Nuruddin (who wrote a classical study on the Nation: “The Five Percenters: A Teenage Nation of Gods and Earths,” in Yvonne Haddad & Jane Idleman Smith, eds., Muslim Communities in North America (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994)) from his essay The Sambo Thesis Revisited: Slavery’s Impact upon the African American Personality.
As with any rich language, there are words in Ebonics which convey powerful concepts that are lost in translation. “Tricknology” is one such word. “Tricknology” is a street corner word, an integral part of the inner city lexicon. It was coined by the Nation of Islam (NOI), and used in at least one public speech by Malcolm, but it was popularized by the Five Percenters, an NOI splinter group which appeals mainly to youth. The Five Percenters made the word an essential part of the black urban vocabulary. Switching gears momentarily from urban street corners to fairy tale wonderlands, “tricknology” is an example of a “portmanteau word” which signifies, as Humpty Dumpty explained to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, that there are several meanings packed into one word. As the Five Percenters say, if you “break down” (analyze the etymological components of) the word “tricknology,” you will discover: the word “trick,” the word “knowledge,” and the suffix “-logy” which means “the science, doctrine or theory of.” Tricknology, then, is the “science of trick knowledge. Tricknology is not simply “plain ol’ trickery”; nor is it exemplified by your average street hustler’s con game. Tricknology denotes a much more subtle and sophisticated level of deception. The “science of trick knowledge” means the science of using respected fields of knowledge (or one’s official or expert capacity) in a cunning, devious or deceitful manner. The term “tricknology,” therefore, denotes the usage of any of the following techniques for purposes of fraud, deception, or the creation of ideological hegemony: sophistry, academic jargon, legalese, double-speak, psycho-babble, disinformation campaigns, lying with statistics, political chicanery, spin-doctoring, double-dealing, playing both sides against the middle, creating smoke-screens, subliminal advertising, media manipulation, the manufacture of consensus, etc. Of course, tricknology also includes any artifice used to divide and conquer people and any legally-sanctioned scheme employed by the wealthy to defraud poor people of their money or property (such as predatory lending practices). Most importantly, tricknology is almost exclusively the tool of the white man. (The Native American expression “the white man speaks with forked tongue” denotes that he lies; tricknology denotes the complex and elaborate machinations involved in his lying.) Hence, the word typically appears in these contexts: “the white man is using his tricknology on you” or—as when casting aspersions on a suspected ruse or ploy by whites to pull the wool over black people’s eyes—“that’s just the white man’s tricknology.” In short, tricknology is what the oppressor uses to keep black people deceived, misdirected, misinformed, baffled, duped, confused, torn between two poles, lulled into false security or false consciousness, distracted, diverted, un-alert or preoccupied, and powerless and impoverished.
Here is another quote from the same essay from the footnotes:
My colleague, Geneva Smitherman, a leading authority on black language, defines “tricknology” in her Ebonics dictionary, Black Talk, as simply “European American technological innovations, viewed as things to be distrusted, as often being not technology, but tricknology. Popularized by The Nation [of Islam].” (I checked the entry in her dictionary after completing my own definition.) I concede that her definition should be incorporated into my overall definition, since in the mythology of the Nation of Islam and their offshoot, the Five Percenters, the founder of tricknology was Yakub, an evil “big-headed” [brainiac] scientist, who created the white race through genetic engineering experiments. He then taught tricknology to his creations. In this sense I would expand my definition to say that tricknology also includes “using science and technology in a devious, treacherous, manipulative or malevolent manner.” But I respectfully differ with my friend and colleague on her point that the term tricknology is delimited to the white man’s distrusted technological innovations. See Geneva Smitherman, Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1994). Going to the original text as a final source of arbitration, I quote part of the answer to Lost-Found Muslim Lesson No. 1 Question # 4, which relates the mythology of how the white trouble-makers created by the evil scientist Yakub were banished from the Holy City of Mecca and exiled to the caves of Europe where they became savages until they were rescued by the Prophet Musa who “came two thousand years later and taught him [the white man] how to live a respectful life, how to build a home for himself and some of the forgotten Tricknology that Yakub had taught him, which was devilishment—-telling lies, stealing and how to master the Original Man” [how to become masters over black people]. [Emphasis is mine.] As with any sacred or authoritative text, the verses only give us the barebones skeleton of parameters. It is the interpreters of the text who flesh out the skeleton by voluminous commentary. The Five Percenters in particular, are known for “sciencing” out the Lessons, i.e., giving extensive commentary on the Lessons, most of it in oral rather than written form. It is from their oral commentary that I derive my definition.
So now that the ‘academics’ have given us a ‘pass’ I am happy to inform the ‘higher learning crowd’ that we are now ‘allowed’ to use both words.