Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life friends, faith friends, souls to call one's own

To save myself, I finally had to leave for good. One makes decisions in funny ways; you make a decision without knowing you've made it. I suppose my decision was made when Malcolm X was killed, when Martin Luther King was killed, when Medgar Evers and John and Bobby and Fred Hampton were killed. I loved Medgar. I loved Martin and Malcolm. We all worked together and kept the faith together. Now they are all dead. When you think about it, it is incredible. I'm the last witness - everybody else is dead. I couldn't stay in America. I had to leave.

That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
The ornament of beauty is suspect,
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.
So thou be good, slander doth but approve
Thy worth the greater, being wooed of time;
For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love,
And thou present'st a pure unstainèd prime.

As is widely known to his generation and the one which came after, the government of the United States, and quite especially the governments exposed as unconscionably illegitimate, by Mr Baldwin and the figures he names, undertook to destroy his program of liberation by the very most active repression, overt and covert, against his sexuality as well as his race. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's famous formula for fascism's process of elimination was not practiced sequentially, here, but simultaneously, whence the phrase commie pinko faggot flourished not only in FBI files, but starkly unchallenged in the media. In every Presidential election since that of Richard Nixon in 1968, one Party has openly and exultantly embraced intimidation by bigotry as the calling card of its hardscrabble "base," so that, today, everyone with the slightest prayer of taking vengeance on his fears is a Republican, while Republicans willing to disown them are pathetically shackled. 

Now this Party wishes to stuff Mr George Allen down the throats of Virginians, in the United States Senate again. I encourage readers of this page to greet this reflex of politics by desperate bigotry and unreconstructed superstition as an occasion to take an interest in what it means for yet another generation of absolutely innocent young people, isolated by feder-alism from their own human rights. This page will follow that campaign against humanity with determined attention.

For now, look about you. Shall they leave? Or die in an unjust nation.

Colm Tóibín
Love in a Dark Time
  an interview
  with James Baldwin
Scribner, 2002©

William Shakespeare
Sonnet, LXX, 1-8

iii  Virginia Woolf


  1. Hello Laurent:
    In the words of Aristotle..... friendship..... one soul in two bodies......

  2. Jane & Lance, What an invigorating and timely reminder. As you do not need to be told, your source for this perception is in yourselves, but it is through xenophobia that the apparatus of fascism will lunge at your throat.

  3. My generation is watching this happen for the first time. And we have the privilege of watching it happen in HD on 24-hour networks. So it looks extra gross.

    But you have seen this happen before. I imagine that if there is one thing worse than witnessing a crime/tragedy, it would be watching it happen again under exactly the same circumstances, with only a few years and a few royal weddings in between to dull the pain.

    This is a problem that affects all citizens: those that are reeling from the novelty of the situation, and those that are convulsing from the redundancy. And we can all come together to fight it.

  4. Rather, JA, than reeling or convulsing, I propose that we all gather our wits with the resolution you suggest, and, like Raeburn's famous skater, accept that although the ice will be hard, it will afford the plinth we sometimes need to strike the human form, and the reliably unyielding freeze to teach us all to prefer it.

    Recall, that Chaplin ("The Great Dictator") portrayed the desperately comic resourcelessness and vanity of admittedly pathological mountebanks like Allen. Surely some witty artist could come along, and present him at play with a beach balloon of Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda (the centerpiece of The University of Virginia) floating off his shiny jackboot, only to pop against the brain drain his election would precipitate? Or what is Washington's obelisk for, but to serve as the beacon to Virginian refugees, and turn that city into a Gaza Strip of huddled agrarian genius?

    I take heart from your resolution. Let's do it right, let's make it fun.

  5. Raeburn is my homeboy

    ....and I know an artist who is taking notes...

  6. One hopes what Virginia and North Carolina pledged in 2008 is not betrayed. It seems a mirage-of right & justice. There are so many layers here my first thought I share- & the others I will come back to-
    And then there is Virginia Woolf.

  7. Time does have its layers, and from a whole inheritance the youngest American would access his provenance as an infant Greek might his, of some greater duration. Republican schadenfreude during the gay men's health crisis in the United States contributed generously to its propagation, worldwide, for example, but so did Democratic cowardice sustain segregation until the Administration which gave us Vietnam, by way of compensation. The pledge of a volatile, disinherited electorate is endlessly up for grabs. And then, thank god, there actually is Virginia Woolf.