Thursday, August 02, 2012

Happy Birthday James Baldwin !

James Arthur Baldwin
Today is the birthday of an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic James Arthur Baldwin. James Baldwin's (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) essays, such as the collection Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, vis-à-vis their inevitable if unnameable tensions with personal identity, assumptions, uncertainties, yearning, and questing. Some Baldwin essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). His novels and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures thwarting the equitable integration of not only blacks yet also of male homosexuals—depicting as well some internalized impediments to such individuals' quest for acceptance—namely in his second novel, Giovanni's Room (1956), written well before the equality of homosexuals was widely espoused in America. Baldwin's best-known novel is his first, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953). Presenting some quotations : Being Poet
  • You know, it's not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.
  • It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story.
  • The making of an American begins at the point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land.
  • It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian.
  • Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the battle field.
  • An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.
  • People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
  • Confronted with the impossibility of remaining faithful to one's beliefs, and the equal impossibility of becoming free of them, one can be driven to the most inhuman excesses.
  • Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless, and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt.
  • If they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.
  • The greatest significance of the present student generation is that it is through them that the point of view of the subjugated is finally and inexorably being expressed.
  • The South is very beautiful but its beauty makes one sad because the lives that people live here, and have lived here, are so ugly.
  • When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.
  • Voyagers discover that the world can never be larger than the person that is in the world; but it is impossible to foresee this, it is impossible to be warned.
  • Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
  • The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.
  • The question of sexual dominance can exist only in the nightmare of that soul which has armed itself, totally, against the possibility of the changing motion of conquest and surrender, which is love.
  • We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours.