A Great Little Intro to the Life of James Baldwin

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James Baldwin was born in August of 1924, so if he were still alive (he died at the age of 63 in 1987), he would have turned 90 this year. And I love this quote of his from chapter two of his book, The Fire Next Time (titled “Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind”):

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, which is 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 to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return, […]

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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