Happy Birthday, James Baldwin.

a day late on this, actually.

I have been thinking lately that I need to read more James Baldwin. I think I have only read, along with some short stories and essays, Just Above My Head, and it was amazing. I read it in Palestine, where I read a lot of fiction as a form of escapism from apartheid.

Lately, my “light” bathtub reading (I take a lot of baths and I like to read in there) has been different feminist histories, in preparation for a study group on patriarchy and gender I am starting in a few months with comrades. (I wont front, lately my bathtub reading has also included the last volume of Harry Potter, the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, and Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood series. I’ve been wanting to write blog posts about all three of those, actually.)

I have been wanting to read James Baldwin in the bathtub, but honestly, what I have read from him is so hard hitting, I dont think I can consider it light reading. Well, considering that in one of my last baths I read about the genocide of Native peoples and the effects on women and gender, I dont think it can get much heavier.

Anyways, here’s a quote from James Baldwin, from The Fire Next 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.”

He passed away in the 80s, but at least before he died, he knew that “the fact of death” or impermanence was something to rejoice in and not run from.

Without death, there cannot be rebirth.