A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.
His touch could never fail to make me feel desire; yet his hot, sweet breath also made me want to vomit.
If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, fire next time.
Words like freedom, justice, democracy are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.
So what can we really do for each other except -- just love each other and be each other's witness? And haven't we got the right to hope -- for more? So that we can really stretch into whoever we really are?
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state on innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
There is nothing more boring, anyway, than sexual activity as an end in itself, and a great many people who came out of the closet should reconsider.
The artistic image is not intended to represent the thing itself, but, rather, the reality of the force the thing contains.
I moved, looking for a cigarette. They were in my hand. I lit one. In a moment, I thought, I will say something. I will say something and then I will walk out of this room forever.
He smiled, "Why, you will go home and then you will find that home is not home anymore. Then you will really be in trouble. As long as you stay here, you can always think: One day I will go home." He played with my thumb and grinned. "N'est-ce pas?"
"Beautiful logic," I said. "You mean I have a home to go to as long as I don't go there?" He laughed. "Well, isn't it true? You don't have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back.
The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat.
Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience you must find yourself at war with your society.
Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one's nakedness can always be felt, and sometimes, discerned.
Whereas Jesus and his disciples were distrusted by the state largely because they respected the poor and shared everything, the fundamentalists of the present hour would appear not to know that the poor exist.
Giovanni had awakened an itch, had released a gnaw in me. I realized it one afternoon, when I was taking him to work via the Boulevard Montparnasse. We had bought a kilo of cherries and we were eating them as we walked along. We were both insufferably childish and high-spirited that afternoon and the spectacle we presented, two grown men jostling each other on the wide sidewalk and aiming the cherry pits, as though they were spitballs, into each other's faces, must have been outrageous. And I realized that such childishness was fantastic at my age and the happiness out of which it sprang yet more so; for that moment I really loved Giovanni, who had never seemed more beautiful than he was that afternoon.
In the context of the Negro problem neither whites nor blacks, for excellent reasons of their own, have the faintest desire to look back; but I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.
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 takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare.
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.
Beneath these faces, these clothes, accents, rudeness, was power and sorrow, both unadmitted, unrealized, the power of inventors, the sorrow of the disconnected.
Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.
But I felt that it was my heart which was broken. Something had broken in me to make me so cold and so perfectly still and far away.
We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours.
Well,' I said, ‘Paris is old, is many centuries. You feel, in Paris, all the time gone by. That isn't what you feel in New York -- 'He was smiling. I stopped.
‘What do you feel in New York?' he asked. ‘Perhaps you feel,' I told him, ‘all the time to come. There's such power there, everything is in such movement. You can't help wondering--I can't help wondering--what it will all be like-- many years from now.
He was waiting, I think, for me to cross that space and take him in my arms again--waiting, as one waits at a deathbed for the miracle one dare not disbelieve, which will not happen.
But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.
For these are all our children. We will all profit by, or pay for, whatever they become.
She knew through what fires the soul must crawl, and with what weeping one passed over. Men spoke of how the heart broke up, but never spoke of how the soul hung speechless in the pause, the void, the terror between the living and the dead; how, all garments rent and cast aside, the naked soul passed over the very mouth of Hell. Once there, there was no turning back; once there, the soul remembered, though the heart sometimes forgot. For the world called to the heart, which stammered to reply; life, and love, and revelry, and most falsely, hope, called the forgetful, the human heart. Only the soul, obsessed with the journey it had made, and had still to make, pursued its mysterious and dreadful end; and carried heavy with weeping and bitterness the heart along.
I yet contend that the mobs in the streets of Hitler's Germany were those in the streets not by the will of the German state, but by the will of the western world, including those architects of human freedom, the British.
White Americans find it as difficult as white people elsewhere do to divest themselves of the notion that they are in possession of some intrinsic value that black people need, or want. And this assumption--which, for example, makes the solution to the Negro problem depend on the speed with which Negroes accept and adopt white standards--is revealed in all kinds of striking ways, from Bobby Kennedy's assurance that a Negro can become President in forty years to the unfortunate tone of warm congratulation with which so many liberals address their Negro equals.
It is one thing to overthrow a dictator or to repel and invader and quite another thing really to achieve a revolution.
I sometimes think, with despair, that Americans will swallow whole any political speech whatever--we've been doing very little else, these last, bad years.
This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
Most people are not naturally reflective any more than they are naturally malicious, and the white man prefers to keep the black man at a certain human remove because it is easier for him thus to preserve his simplicity and avoid being called to account for crimes committed by his forefathers, or his neighbors.
We go down the hall again, thank heaven, to my drink.
If I am not what you say I am, then you are not who you think you are.
The question is really a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That's what segregation means. You don't know what's happening on the other side of the wall, because you don't want to know.
Unless a writer is extremely old when he dies, in which case he has probably become a neglected institution, his death must always be seen as untimely. This is because a real writer is always shifting and changing and searching. The world has many labels for him, of which the most treacherous is the label of 'Success.
The real troubles with living is that living is so banal.
People are too various to be treated so lightly. I am too various to be trusted.
Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.
Much has been written of love turning to hatred, of the heart growing cold with the death of love. It is a remarkable process. It is far more terrible than anything I have ever read about it, more terrible than anything I will ever be able to say.
Since we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal, I have been making as much noise as I can, here in Europe, on radio and television--in fact, have just returned from a land, Germany, which was made notorious by a silent majority not so very long ago.
Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel; the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty.
You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don't live the only life you have, you won't live some other life, you won't live any life at all.
And i have seen it in the eyes of rookie cops in Harlem -- rookie cops who were really the most terrified people in the world, and who had to pretend to themselves that the black junkie, the black mother, the black father, the black child were of different human species than themselves . The southern sheriff, the rookie cop, could, and I suspect still can only deal with their lives and their duties by hiding behind the colour curtain -- a curtain which, indeed, eventually becomestheir principal justification for the lives they lead
They thus will barricade themselves behind this curtain and continue in their crime, in the great unadmitted crime of what they have done to themselves.
No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide.
Nobody can stay in the Garden of Eden.
But I am really saying something very simple. The will of the people, or the state, is revealed by the state's institutions. There was not, then, nor is there, now, a single American institution, which is not a racist institution. And racist institutions -- the unions, for one example, the Church, for another, and the Army -- or the military -- for yet another, are meant to keep the nigger in his place. Yes: we have lived through tokens and concessions but white power remains white. And what it appears to surrender with one hand it obsessively clutches in the other.
Because I was raised in a Christian culture I never considered myself to be a totally free human being.
The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen ... Perhaps it can't be done without the poet, but it certainly can't be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that's all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.
I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.
You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.
It's not really a mystery except it's always a mystery about people.
For here you were, Big James, named for me--you were a big baby, I was not--here you were, to be loved. To be loved, baby, hard, at once, and forever, to strengthen you against the loveless world.
The power to define the other seals one's definition of oneself.
One of the things, though, that has always afflicted the American reality and the American vision is this aversion to history. History is not something you read about in a book, history is not even the past--it's the present. Because everybody operates, whether or not we know it, out of assumptions which are produced and produced only by our history. Now the history of this country is not bloodier than other countries, but it's bloody. It is not more criminal than that of other countries, but it's criminal. Or in short, it's not worse than the history of France or England or any country we can name--but it's different.
The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible.
Of course, I must say that I don't think America is God's gift to anybody -- if it is, God's days have got to be numbered. That God these people say they serve -- and do serve, in ways that they don't know -- has got a very nasty sense of humor. Like you'd beat the shit out of Him, if He was a man. Or: if you were.
The occurrence of an event is not the same thing as knowing what it is that one has lived through. Most people had not lived -- nor could it, for that matter, be said that they had died -- through any of their terrible events. They had simply been stunned by the hammer. They passed their lives thereafter in a kind of limbo of denied and unexamined pain. The great question that faced him this morning was whether or not he had ever, really, been present at his life. For if he had ever been present, then he was present still, and his world would open up before him.
People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them." Civil Rights activist, author, and critic James Baldwin was born on#ThisDayinHistory 1924.
Nakedness has no color: this can come as news only to those who have never covered, or been covered by, another naked human being.
We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.
Everybody's journey is individual. You you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.
It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
We made the world we're living in and we have to make it over.
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.
No matter how it seems now, I must confess: I loved him. I do not think I will ever love anyone like that again.
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.
Maybe everything bad that happens to you makes you weaker," said Giovanni, as though he had not heard me, "and so you can stand less and less.
The mind is like an object that picks up dust. The object doesn't know, any more than the mind does, why what clings to it clings.
The place in which I'll fit will not exist until I make it.
You can not describe anything without betraying your point of view, your aspirations, your fears, your hopes. Everything.
T can be objected that I am speaking of political freedom in spiritual terms, but the political institutions of any nation are always menaced and are ultimately controlled by the spiritual state of that nation. We are controlled here by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine them; domestically, we take no responsibility for (and no pride in) what goes on in our country; and, internationally, for many millions of people, we are an unmitigated disaster.
That was how I met her, in a bar in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, she was drinking and watching, and that was why I liked her, I thought she would be fun to have fun with.
She fitted in my arms, she always had, and the shock of holding her caused me to feel that my arms had been empty since she had been away.
White man, hear me! History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer, merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.
No matter what Saint Paul may thunder, love is where you find it. A man can fall in love with a man: incarceration, torture, fire, and death, and, still more, the threat of these, have not been able to prevent it, and never will. It became a grave, a tragic matter, on the North American continent, where white power became indistinguishable from the question of sexual dominance. But 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.
You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.
There is often something beautiful, there is always something awful, in the spectacle of a a person who has lost one of his faculties, a faculty he never questioned until it was gone, and who struggles to recover it. Yet people remain people, on crutches or indeed on deathbeds..
In a way, I owe the invitation to the incredible, abysmal, and really cowardly obtuseness of white liberals. Whether in private debate or in public, any attempt I made to explain how the Black Muslim movement came about, and how it has achieved such force, was met with a blankness that revealed the little connection that the liberals' attitudes have with their perceptions or their lives, or even their knowledge--revealed, in fact, that they could deal with the Negro as a symbol or a victim but had no sense of him as a man.
Take no one's word for anything, including mine -- but trust your experience.
Lord, that Hollywood train, forever coming round the bend!
The question of color was but another detail, somewhere between being six feet tall and being six feet under.
The conquests of England -- every single one of them bloody -- are part of what Americans have in mind when they speak of England's glory. In the United States, violence and heroism have been made synonymous when it comes to Blacks. And the only way to defeat Malcom's point is to concede and then ask oneself why this is so.
I was just as black as I had been the day that I was born. Therefore, when I faced a congregation, it began to take all the strength I had not to stammer, not to curse, not to tell them to throw away their Bibles and get off their knees and go home and organize, for example, a rent strike. When I watched all the children, their copper, brown, and beige faces staring up at me as I taught Sunday school, I felt that I was committing a crime in talking about the gentle Jesus, in telling them to reconcile themselves to their misery on earth in order to gain the crown of eternal life. Were only Negroes to gain this crown? Was Heaven, then, to be merely another ghetto?
No one in the city, except your immediate family -- not always they-- says good morning.
I remembered my mother's insistence that I always wear clean underwear because I might get knocked down by a car on the way to or from school and I and the family would be disgraced even beyond the grave, presumably, if my underwear was dirty. And I began to worry, in fact, as the doctor sniffed and prodded, about the state of the shorts I was wearing. This made me want to laugh. But I could not breathe.
A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. A child cannot be taught by anyone whose demand, essentially, is that the child repudiate his experience, and all that gives him sustenance.
Writing is a political instrument.
Pessimists are the people who have no hope for themselves or for others. Pessimists are also people who think the human race is beneath their notice, that they're better than other human beings.
If the hope of giving
is to love the living, the giver risks madness in the act of giving.
The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.
I must--to be honest--add that my ministry almost certainly helped me through my adolescence by giving me something larger than myself to be frightened about.
He wanted me to come home -- to come home, as he said, and settle down, and whenever he said that I thought of the sediment at the bottom of a stagnant pond.
A mob is not autonomous: it executes the real will of the people who rule the State. The slaughter in Birmingham, Alabama, for example, was not merely the action of a mob.
For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
Every day in the city, on the contrary -- and I grew up in the city -- involves a subtle divorce from reality. There is something a little terrifying about being forty stories in the air and looking around you, and you see nothing but walls, other skyscrapers, and you don't dare look down. And if you are on the ground, if you want to see the sky, you must make an effort of the will and look up. And if you do that, you are likely to be carried off to Bellevue -- but that is another story.
Whose little boy are you?
The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don't see.
You must understand that your pain is trivial except insofar as you can use it to connect with other people's pain; and insofar as you can do that with your pain, you can be released from it, and then hopefully it works the other way around too; insofar as I can tell you what it is to suffer, perhaps I can help you to suffer less.
But in the end, it is the threat of universal extinction over all the world today that changes totally and forever the nature of reality and brings into devastating question the true meaning of man's history. We human beings now have the power to exterminate ourselves. This seems to be the entire sum of our achievements. We have taken this journey and arrived at this place in God's name. This then, is the best that God -- the white God -- can do. If that is so, then it is time to replace him.
And here I was, left with only myself to deal with. It was entirely up to me.
I can't be a pessimist because I'm alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter.
I can't be a pessimist because I am alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So, I am forced to be an optimist. I am forced to believe that we can survive, whatever we must survive.
A child cannot, thank Heaven, know how vast and how merciless is the nature of power, with what unbelievable cruelty people treat each other.
Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
It is not really a "Negro revolution" that is upsetting the country. What is upsetting the country is a sense of its own identity. If, for example, one managed to change the curriculum in all the schools so that Negroes learned more about themselves and their real contributions to this culture, you would be liberating not only Negroes, you'd be liberating white people who know nothing about their own history. And the reason is that if you are compelled to lie about one aspect of anybody's history, you must lie about it all. If you have to lie about my real role here, if you have to pretend that I hoed all that cotton just because I loved you, then you have done something to yourself. You are mad.
We live in a nation of pigs and murderers.
In any event, the sloppy and fatuous nature of American good will can never be relied upon to deal with hard problems. These have been dealt with, when they have been dealt with at all, out of necessity--and in political terms, anyway, necessity means concessions made in order to stay on top.
When he died I had been away from home for a little over a year. In that year I had had time to become aware of the meaning of all my father's bitter warnings, had discovered the secret of his proudly pursed lips and rigid carriage: I had discovered the weight of white people in the world. I saw that this had been for my ancestors and now would be for me an awful thing to live with and that the bitterness which had helped to kill my father could also kill me.
We do not trust educated people and rarely, alas, produce them, for we do not trust the independence of mind which alone makes a genuine education possible.
If you're treated a certain way you become a certain kind of person. If certain things are described to you as being real they're real for you whether they're real or not.
No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
Love brought you here. If you trusted love this far, don't panic now.
The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.
An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.
We had bought a kilo of cherries and we were eating them as we walked along. We were both insufferably childish and high-spirited that afternoon and th spectacle we presented, two grown men, jostling each other on the wide sidewalk, and aiming the cherry-pips, as though they were spitballs, into each other's facesm must have been outrageous. And I realized that such childishness was fantastic at my age and the happiness out of which it sprang yet more so; for that moment I really loved Giovanni, who had never seemed more beautiful than he was that afternoon. And, watching his face, I realized that it meant much to me that I could make his face so bright. I saw that I might be willing to give a great deal not to lose that power. And I felt myself flow toward him, as a river rushes when the ice breaks up.
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.
The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.
One must be careful not to take refuge in any delusion.
The people who think of themselves as White have the choice of becoming human or irrelevant.
Or -- as they are, indeed, already, in all but actual fact: obsolete. For, if trouble don't last always, as the Preacher tells us, neither does Power, and it is on the fact or the hope or the myth of Power that that identity which calls itself White has always seemed to depend.
It is quite possible to say that the price a Negro pays for becoming articulate is to find himself, at length, with nothing to be articulate about. ("You taught me language," says Caliban to Prospero, "and my profit on't is I know how to curse.").
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.
You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You are not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.
Whoever debases others is debasing himself.
I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
"One of these days," he said. "Everything bad will happen -- one of these days."
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.
Yet one must also recognize that morality is based on ideas and that all ideas are dangerous -- dangerous because ideas can only lead to action and where the action leads no man can say.
He sat in an armchair, overlooking a foreign sea, still struggling to find the grace which would allow him to bear that revelation. For the meaning of revelation is that what is revealed is true, and must be borne.
There appears to be a vast amount of confusion on this point, but I do not know many Negroes who are eager to be "accepted" by white people, still less to be loved by them; they, the blacks, simply don't wish to be beaten over the head by the whites every instant of our brief passage on this planet. White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this -- which will not be tomorrow and will not be today and may very well be never -- the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.
And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.
He had been bruised, so to speak, so badly that the eyes of strangers lacerated him like salt.
Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford and you are not that young anymore.
The hope of the world lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself.
Elijah Muhammad himself has now been carrrying the same message for more than thirty years; he is not an overnight sensation, and we owe his ministry, I am told, to the fact that when he was a child of six or so, his father was lynched before his eyes. (So much for states' rights.).
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.
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death -- ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.
There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know.
But to look back from the stony plain along the road which led one to that place is not at all the same thing as walking on the road; the perspective to say the very least, changes only with the journey; only when the road has, all abruptly and treacherously, and with an absoluteness that permits no argument, turned or dropped or risen is one able to see all that one could not have seen from any other place.
Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.
I imagine that one of the reasons that people cling to their hate and prejudice so stubbornly, is that they sense that once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with their own pain.
I remember that life in that room seemed to be occurring beneath the sea, time flowed past indifferently above us, hours and days had no meaning. In the beginning our life held a joy and amazement which was newborn every day. Beneath the joy, of course, was anguish and beneath the amazement was fear; but they did not work themselves to the beginning until our high beginning was aloes on our tongues. By then anguish and fear had become the surface on which we slipped and slid, losing balance, dignity, and pride.
Perhaps he is a fool or a coward but almost everybody is one or the other and most people are both.
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.
It's funny about people. Just before something happens, you almost know what it is. You do know what it is, I believe. You just haven't had the time--and now you won't have the time--to say it to yourself.
Goddammit to hell, I'm sick of it. Can't I get a place to sleep without dragging it through the courts? I'm goddamn tired of battling every Tom, Dick, and Harry for what everyone else takes for granted. I'm tired!
Sometimes, when he was not near me, I thought, I will never let him 'Touch' me again. Then, when he 'Touched' me, I thought, it doesn't matter, it is only the body, it will soon be over. When it was over, I lay in the dark and listened to his breathing and dreamed of the 'Touch' of hands, of Giovanni's hands, or anybody's hands, hands which would have the power to crush me and make me whole again.
It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I'd been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.
On each piece of paper I found addresses, telephone numbers, memos of various rendezvous made and kept--or perhaps not kept--people met and remembered, or perhaps not remembered, hopes probably not fulfilled: certainly not fulfilled, or I would not have been standing on that street corner.
A liberal: someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do.