One thing I find myself doing once classes are over is catching up on things I feel I need to know something about in order to keep a bit more in touch with my students and perhaps even the rest of the world. I also like to catch up on reading and watching things I would not otherwise have time for.
That’s how I stumbled across this really entertaining/interesting edifying panel discussion led by bell hooks at the New School. I was really impressed with all the panelists- and especially with how bell hooks was able to express her – in the eyes of some/many? perhaps- controversial/second wavish? views/issues with the way black women were portrayed in 12 Years A Slave (which I have yet to see) and also with Beyoncé’sTime magazine cover.
Upon viewing the discussion I decided I know too little about Beyoncé and Jay-Z and so I watched a few of their videos and found out that they have both been associated with the Illuminati and freemasons! Who knew?! I'm probably the only one who didn’t.
Per usual when it comes to all things "Illuminati" it’s all extremely muddled and complicated because on the one had it plays into conspiracy and often racist theories that seem suspicious of Jay-Z’s and Beyonce’s wealth/success. Proponents of these theories therefore think of the Illuminati as some kind of satanic cult. (And it is true that various groups calling themselves illuminati have been associated with occultism etc...A key figure is the British occultist Aleister Crowley.) On the other hand Beyoncé Jay-Z do seem to like to flirt with certain images/figures related to the occult-for whatever reason. notoriety? branding? style? its perceived edginess with a certain demographic? Maybe at this point they're doing it on purpose to keep the whole "conspiracy theory" contingent on their toes....
The actual historical "Illuminati" were a secret society devoted to promoting egalitarian Enlightenment ideals. This website provides a good overview of the group and its founder Adam Weishaupt. It seems that from the very beginning this group rankled its opponents, who constructed elaborate theories about its overall influence. A lot more could be said about all of this but not right now.
Last but not least here's a link to a somewhat older NPR story that talks about Jay Z's occult interests and connections.