The Art of Compassion on LIVING SMART with Patricia Gras

Barbara Elliott who won the national Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights in 2001 has a lot to teach about socially and spiritually revitalizing communities. Her two books focus on street heroes who have made a difference in other peoples lives. She now runs an organization which empowers people in transition to get on with their lives.

Shame and Guilt: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

June Tangney, professor of psychology at George Mason University, delves into shame and guilt by looking into various facets of our society such as the criminal justice system, children, families, incarcerated offenders, teachers and parents. Shame and guilt are often mentioned in the same breath as moral emotions that inhibit destructive, socially unacceptable behaviors, but how similar are these two emotions? Recent research indicates that guilt is the more adaptive emotion and can motivate people to behave in a moral, caring, socially responsible manner. In contrast, feelings of shame (about the self) can easily go awry. Discover more about this intriguing research, what it reveals and how it relates to our society.


A poem is a city

A poem is a city
a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers
filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen,
filled with banality and booze,
filled with rain and thunder and periods of
drought, a poem is a city at war,
a poem is a city asking a clock why,
a poem is a city burning,
a poem is a city under guns
its barbershops filled with cynical drunks,
a poem is a city where God rides naked
through the streets like Lady Godiva,
where dogs bark at night, and chase away
the flag; a poem is a city of poets,
most of them quite similar
and envious and bitter...
a poem is this city now,
50 miles from nowhere,
9:09 in the morning,
the taste of liquor and cigarettes,
no police, no lovers, walking the streets,
this poem, this city, closing its doors,
barricaded, almost empty,
mournful without tears, aging without pity,
the hardrock mountains,
the ocean like a lavender flame,
a moon destitute of greatness,
a small music from broken windows...

a poem is a city, a poem is a nation,
a poem is the world...

and now I stick this under glass
for the mad editor's scrutiny,
the night is elsewhere
and faint gray ladies stand in line,
dog follows dog to estuary,
the trumpets bring on gallows
as small men rant at things
they cannot do.


Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski-The Shower

Part 1 of the Taylor Hackford documentary on Charles Bukowski from 1973.
This is a 46 minute version of the film shown on PBS.

Excuse the quality, but I guess a scuffed holy grail is better than none at all? :-)

If you are a fan of 'Ink & Drink' then you may be interested in reading the first ongoing comic series published by English Bob Comics: "Eat, Drink & Be Buried".

More info here: www.eatdrinkandbeburied.com

Charles Bukowski

One of the greatest poets and a legend in the bar world, Charles Bukowski is the drunkard's hero. His life inspired the films Barfly and Factotem, and his approach towards writing and drinking was nothing less than epic.

Nirvana by Charles Bukowski
not much chance, completely cut loose from purpose, he was a young man riding a bus through North Carolina on the way to somewhere and it began to snow and the bus stopped at a little café in the hills and the passengers entered. he sat at the counter with the others, he ordered and the food arrived. the meal was particularly good and the coffee. the waitress was unlike the women he had known. she was unaffected, there was a natural humour which came from her. the fry cook said crazy things. the dishwasher in back, laughed, a good clean pleasant laugh. the young man watched the snow through the windows. he wanted to stay in that café forever. the curious feeling swam through him that everything was beautiful there, that it would always stay beautiful there. then the bus driver told the passengers that it was time to board. the young man thought, I'll just stay here, I'll just stay here. but then he rose and followed the others onto the bus. he found his seat and looked at the café through the bus window. then the bus moved off, down a curve, downward, out of the hills. the young man looked straight forward. he heard the other passengers speaking of other things, or they were reading or trying to sleep. they had not noticed the magic. the young man put his head to one side, closed his eyes, pretended to sleep. there was nothing else to do. just to listen to the sound of the engine, the sound of the tires in the snow.

Al Jolson - Brother can you spare a Dime

Brother can you spare a dime? Tom Waits

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", also sung as "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?", was one of the best-known American songs of the Great Depression.

Written in 1931 by lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg and composer Jay Gorney, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" was part of the 1932 musical New Americana. It became best known, however, through recordings by Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee. Both versions were released right before Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election to the presidency and both became number one hits on the charts. The Warner Bros. Crosby recording became the best-selling record of its period, and came to be viewed as an anthem of the shattered dreams of the era.

A compilation was released in 1993 of recordings by various artists, including Tom Waits. The song was also recorded more recently by the singer George Michael for his album Songs from the Last Century and by Peter Yarrow in his album "Hard Times". Judy Collins also include a recording of the song on her 1975 album Judith.

Change? "We Shall Overcome" God's truth is marching on

Comment left on the video site:

This song was written in 1965. I graduated June, by November I had lost 11 of my friends who had just graduated. We were old enough to go to war and die for the USA but we were not allowed to vote in the USA until we were 21. The war seemed senseless and Pres. Johnson was playing games with the lives of innocent kids. Barry McGuire said it like it was. If you didn't live during that time, you have NO idea what the feelings were..I am just glad we survived with our emotions still in tact.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Our God Is Marching On!"
25 March 1965
Montgomery, Alabama

music by: Loreena Mckennitt - Tango for Evora

Where Have all the Flowers Gone: Eve of Destruction

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The Highwaymen - Welfare Line

kris kristofferson - Why me Lord


Jimmy Baldwin: Stirring the Waters by Darryl Pinckney | The New York Review of Books

Jimmy Baldwin: Stirring the Waters by Darryl Pinckney | The New York Review of Books

NOVEMBER 25, 2010
Darryl Pinckney
The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings
by James Baldwin, edited and with an introduction by Randall Kenan
Pantheon, 304 pp., $26.95

Nancy Crampton
James Baldwin, New York City, 1976

Life never bribed him to look at anything but the soul, Henry James said of Emerson, and one could say

the same of James Baldwin, with a similar suggestion that the price for his purity was blindness about

some other things in life. Baldwin possessed to an extraordinary degree what James called Emerson’s

“special capacity for moral experience.” He, too, is persuasive in his antimaterialism. Baldwin, like

Emerson, renounced the pulpit—he had been a fiery boy preacher in Harlem—and readers have found in the

writings of each the atmosphere of church.

It’s not that Emerson and Baldwin have much in common as writers. Harlem was not Concord. Except for his

visits to England, Emerson stayed put for fifty years and Baldwin spent his adult life in search of a

home. He left Harlem for Greenwich Village in the early 1940s, left Greenwich Village for Paris in 1948,

and spent much time in Paris, Turkey, and the South of France between the 1950s and the 1980s. Yet

Baldwin and Emerson both can speak directly to another person’s soul, as James would have it, in a way

that “seems to go back to the roots of our feelings, to where conduct and manhood begin.”

Baldwin, as much as Emerson, is a legatee of certain Nonconformist beliefs—that every person is a carrier

of the divine spark, for instance, an idea that became secular in the time of the American Revolution

through arguments regarding the authority of the individual in a political democracy. If this is one of

the founding traditions of American radicalism, then it links the abolitionism of Emerson’s day with the

civil rights movement of Baldwin’s. Many intellectuals in the 1960s were aware that the freedom movement

was a taking up of what had been left brutally undone since Emancipation. The antislavery cause of a

century earlier offered to civil rights activists examples of individual conscience as judge of unjust

government and its laws. When the protests of the late 1950s and 1960s that Baldwin wrote about brought

the Paris expatriate back to the US, the connection between racial justice and democracy in America was

once again at the center of the nation’s politics, asking every citizen to realize that his or her

liberty was not freedom so long as other Americans were being denied their rights.


The political goals of the civil rights movement that Baldwin made himself a witness for, as an essayist,

novelist, and activist, were partially realized with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the

Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even the angry black nationalists of the 1960s who attacked Baldwin as a queer

and a darling of white liberals accomplished something in the long run. They transformed the public

psychology of race, combating on an unprecedented scale the dogma of racial inferiority. Still, Baldwin

was as fearless an exponent of racial justice as any of the black nationalists. He famously told the

startled Robert Kennedy that young blacks could not be expected to serve loyally in the Vietnam War.

Consequently, he was hurt when the Black Panthers’ Eldridge Cleaver, in Soul on Ice (1968), wrote that

“the racial deathwish” was the driving force in James Baldwin because he, a gay black man, had been

“castrated” by the white man, and was, moreover, frustrated in his desire to have a baby by a white man,

to absorb a white lover’s whiteness. Baldwin, remembered as controlled, elegant, intense, and polite,

refused at the time to show in public how wounding such attacks were.

For all the efforts of black activists, neither poverty nor racism was eradicated, and discrepancies

between the standard of living of whites and of blacks only increased over the years. Baldwin died in

1987, when the conservative reaction presided over by Ronald Reagan, “the third-rate, failed, ex–Warner

Brothers contract player,” threatened to reverse the gains of what historians sometimes call the Second

Reconstruction. Americans were told by some commentators how exhausted they were with the subject of

racial justice. “That the western world has forgotten that such a thing as the moral choice exists, my

history, my flesh, and my soul bear witness,” Baldwin wrote in “An Open Letter to the Born Again” in 1979

and reprinted in The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948–1985. For the remainder of his life

he seemed one of the casualties of the freedom movement. He would say that what was wrong with the

country was still deeply wrong.

The late uncollected pieces that Baldwin included in The Price of the Ticket were written by a man who

remembered himself as a youth with “murder in his heart.” Just as Baldwin in his later fiction hoped to

have another blockbuster like Another Country (1962), so he could sometimes in his later essays seem to

be looking to arouse again the sort of controversy that attended the publication of his inflammatory

essay on race relations, The Fire Next Time (1963), much of which had appeared in The New Yorker. In the

first issue of The New York Review, F.W. Dupee argued that Baldwin had substituted prophecy for analysis

and in so doing risked losing his grasp of his great theme, freedom.1 In retrospect, Baldwin in parts of

The Fire Next Time can sound somewhat naive about the political process. He certainly overestimated the

concern white Americans had about how racial injustice was affecting the moral atmosphere of the country.

But it’s understandable that he believed in 1963 that black people held the key to the nation’s political

future: nothing like the mass protests of those days had ever happened before.

Much of the considerable writing on James Baldwin holds that the probings and provocations of Notes of a

Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), and The Fire Next Time are more engaging than the overt

expressions of his disillusionment, starting with No Name in the Street (1972). Implicit in the

comparison is a judgment about integration and black separatism, as though his nuanced work belongs to a

hopeful time of racial dialogue and his excoriations to the simplicity of his militancy. But there has

been all along a black resistance, so to speak, to the critical view that there came a falling off in

Baldwin’s work once he had given himself over to forever haranguing Western society. He had stirred the

waters with The Fire Next Time, and in the run-up to the 1980 presidential election he again sounded some

alarmist chords in a futile effort to reignite in black voters a sense of political urgency:

Therefore, in a couple of days, blacks may be using the vote to outwit the Final Solution. Yes. The Final

Solution. No black person can afford to forget that the history of this country is genocidal from where

the buffalo once roamed to where our ancestors were slaughtered (from New Orleans to New York, from

Birmingham to Boston) and to the Caribbean and to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to Saigon. Oh, yes, let

freedom ring.
Black critics, especially, have concentrated on what they see as the valor in such political statements,

and they praise his last novels, If Beale Street Could Talk (1973) and Just Above My Head (1979), for

being proudly pro-black, for depicting loving and supportive black families. They argue that Baldwin

sacrificed his popularity with the white critical establishment because he insisted on telling American

society discomfiting truths. The exception is Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), Baldwin’s troubled

account of the gruesome Atlanta case in which Wayne Williams was arrested in connection with twenty-eight

murders, mostly of children, and was eventually convicted of two of them. Few have defended the book or

even tried to explain it.

Meanwhile, young scholars look for something fresh to say about Baldwin, to free him from the biography

of his early triumphs leading, by way of the assassinations and violence of the 1960s, to late despair.

Because of the passage of time, their distance, they examine Baldwin as someone who shows how white

America was influenced by black America, and not just in music, and not the usual other way around, that

of whites influencing blacks.

Some of the young scholars who want to reconsider Baldwin also have an interest in gender studies. They

revere him not only for his pioneering fiction about homosexuality, but for his meditation on masculinity

and constricting American ideas of sexuality, “Here Be Dragons,” published in 1985, one of only two

essays to address sexuality directly that he published in his lifetime. Randall Kenan, the editor of The

Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings, is of the generation of young black gay writers for whom

Baldwin is a sort of spiritual father.

Baldwin was sure he had to kill off the straightforward realism of Richard Wright in order to heed Henry

James, but Kenan didn’t have to set aside his racial identity before he could embrace a queer antecedent.

Kenan’s first novel, A Visitation of Spirits (1989), is the coming-of-age story of a black gay youth, and

the stories collected in Let the Dead Bury Their Dead (1992) are mostly about what it means to be black,

poor, and gay in the South. He has written a biography of Baldwin for young readers, and The Fire This

Time (2007) is Kenan’s homage to Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, which created a sensation in 1963, the

year Kenan was born. Where Baldwin is stirring in denouncing complacent American racism, Kenan’s

commentary on what has and has not changed in the racial situation in the US in the years since is tepid,

but nevertheless he shows himself a sensitive interpreter of Baldwin’s intentions.

In his introduction to The Cross of Redemption, Kenan says that he had subscribed to the view that

Baldwin in his last years was bitter and unhappy:

Journalists often quoted the interviews that Baldwin gave in the late 1960s and early 1970s, at the

height of the Vietnam War and in the wake of so much death and an American landscape pockmarked with

riot-ruined cities.
However, Kenan feels that Baldwin was still producing outstanding work, including The Devil Finds Work

(1976), his retelling of his life through the motion pictures he grew up on; a discussion of the

childhood torments caused by his appearance, for instance, is centered on the Bette Davis film 20,000

Years in Sing Sing. As Baldwin moved into the 1980s and then turned sixty, Kenan writes, “life was rich,

despite what the media would have led us to believe.”

Kenan means for The Cross of Redemption to be a companion to the Library of America edition of Baldwin’s

Collected Essays (1998). The fifty-four previously uncollected pieces range from Baldwin’s earliest book

reviews, published in The New Leader in 1947, to his denunciations of the Christian right, written not

long before his death. Included are speeches from rallies in the 1960s; open letters, such as his fiery

letter in 1970 to Angela Davis when she was incarcerated, in which he declared that “the enormous

revolution in black consciousness which has occurred in your generation, my dear sister, means the

beginning or the end of America”; and a memoir of playwright Lorraine Hansberry when she, too, confronted

Robert Kennedy and asked him for a “moral commitment” to combat racism.

Sedat Pakay
James Baldwin in the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 1965

Not everything great writers do has to be great. We are interested in their miscellaneous writing because

we want to go on discovering things by them and things about them. Baldwin never fails to move one

somehow. Anguish has your number; it knows where you live, he said. Baldwin in his essays depends on what

he can bring to bear from his personal history. In this volume, as in all his essays on race and

politics, his premise is that the Negro Problem is in fact a white problem. For conditions to improve for

black people, profound change would have to come to white America.

Kenan would perhaps say that those people put off by the radicalism of Baldwin’s late phase have not paid

close enough attention to how radical he was already early on. The Cross of Redemption reminds us that

Baldwin was, indeed, taking white liberals to task for the failures and self-congratulation of their

social imagination some time before he was dismissed by black militants as irrelevant and out of date.

“The American way of life has failed—to make people happier or to make them better,” Baldwin declared

when Eisenhower was in the White House. To become a revolutionary country was the only hope America had,

he was saying at the beginning of the Kennedy administration. The standards by which middle-class

Americans lived had to be undermined. It was time to create new standards. “What they care about is the

continuation of white supremacy, so that white liberals who are with you in principle will move out when

you move in.”

Baldwin on race is Baldwin on the white American psyche. He thought a lot about white men. He wants to

understand even as he condemns. He consistently attacked them for longing for innocence, for their

refusal to grow up, but it was he who seemed the innocent in his demand that America atone, or pay its

dues, as he liked to say. The difficulty was not so much that white Americans were unable to admit that

genocide—the Middle Passage, the Indian Wars—was an integral part of American history, it was that

acceptance of the historical truth was not likely to alter anything, which left Baldwin reiterating and

restating his demand for justice down through the years. He won’t give up; America, he believed, was

sustaining too much suffering at home and abroad in its willful ignorance of its own and Western history.

Into the 1970s, he was called upon to lend his name, to speak for international political causes in

London or Berkeley, challenging his audiences to be better people. His speeches and open letters are time

capsules in their rhetoric. Even the ones from his most angry moments aren’t like a militant’s words for

black people, to which the white liberal press can listen in. Baldwin assumed an integrated audience.

What damaged his tone was that he decided that white people needed things explained on a basic level.

Often he sounded like he was scolding a Sunday school classroom.

Not all of the work in The Cross of Redemption is political: we get considered essays on jazz (“This

music begins on the auction block”), on the uses of the blues, on the debate about Black English, on mass

culture as a reflection of American chaos, on the untruthfulness of American plays and the consequent

“nerve-wracking busyness” of the American stage—which spent huge amounts of skill and energy attempting

to “justify our fantasies, thus locking us within them.” There are some forewords and afterwords to books

about black America, profiles of the Patterson-Liston fight in Chicago in 1963 and of Sidney Poitier in

1968 as well as a spirited defense of Lorraine Hansberry’s best-known work, A Raisin in the Sun. In the

pieces on culture, The Cross of Redemption becomes an absorbing portrait of Baldwin’s times—and of him.

In Notes of a Native Son, Baldwin rejected Shakespeare and Chartres Cathedral as symbols of a culture in

which he had no part. In “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare,” originally published in the London Observer

in 1964 and reprinted in The Cross of Redemption, he said he’d been young and missed the point entirely,

because of a “loveless education.” He no longer considered Shakespeare one of the architects of his

oppression. “I was resenting, of course, the assault on my simplicity.” If the English language was not

his, then, he said, maybe he hadn’t learned how to use it. He finally heard Shakespeare in what he called

the “shock” of Julius Caesar. Then, too, Shakespeare’s “bawdiness” mattered to him once he realized that

bawdiness, which signified “respect for the body,” was also an element of the jazz he’d been listening to

and hoping to “translate” into his work. “The greatest poet in the English language found his poetry

where poetry is found: in the lives of the people. He could have done this only through love.”

Baldwin’s Blues for Mr. Charlie appeared on Broadway in 1964 to mixed reviews. His ambitions in drama

were as keen and misplaced as Henry James’s. He’d been Elia Kazan’s assistant at the Actor’s Studio in

the late 1940s. The Cross of Redemption includes a memoir of Geraldine Page in rehearsal for Kazan’s

production of Tennessee Williams’s Sweet Bird of Youth and Baldwin’s generous review of Kazan’s novel,

The Arrangement, published in 1967. Kazan had testified to the House Un-American Activities Committee,

but Baldwin was loyal to him and to his memories of the days when he ran the streets of Greenwich Village

with the young Marlon Brando. One can feel his period—the Method—in his remarks on theater and in his

wanting to jazz up Shakespeare, to vouch for him as a hep cat attuned to what was happening in his

Elizabethan streets. Everyone finds in Shakespeare the Shakespeare he or she needs, but it is a surprise

how uninteresting on him Baldwin lets himself be, calling him “the last bawdy writer in the English


Also surprising are the book reviews with which Baldwin’s career began. It is not uncommon for young

writers to be tough critics as a way of making an impression. They are at the same time boasting or

making a wager with the future that they won’t make the mistakes they are grilling their elders for. The

twenty-three-year-old Baldwin is merciless to Maxim Gorky. He finds him perceptive but not profound,

observant but frequently sentimental: “Gorky does not seem capable of the definitive insight, the shock

of identification.”

Baldwin couldn’t take seriously Erskine Caldwell’s latest in 1947, The Sure Hand of God, which he called

“curious because of its effortless tone and absolute emptiness,” and regretted that a promising novel

about a repressed homosexual turned out to be boring. The Portable Russian Reader is “quite dreadfully

comprehensive” and Baldwin is so hostile to James M. Cain’s “moist, benevolent fascination” with the

tough guy that his scorn comes across as a generational repudiation of the hard-boiled style of the

1930s. Baldwin’s early reviews fit with his famous attacks on Richard Wright and the protest novel in

Notes of a Native Son. He was even more cutting about John Hope Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom

(1947). In reaching for the objectivity expected of him as “a Negro and a Negro historian,” Franklin

“becomes very nearly fatuous and persistently shallow.”

But suddenly Baldwin is talking about something he’s deeply interested in and everything is different,

charged with energy. On reading again Robert Louis Stevenson, a favorite of his childhood, he finds him

at his absolute best in Kidnapped: “All of Stevenson’s warm brutal innocence is here, the sensation of

light and air, the nervous tension, the chase, the victory.” Men were not a riddle to Stevenson; they

were fitting subjects for romance and he made them asexual, in the manner of preadolescent youth. This is

the Baldwin whose insights are lasting, the writer who in 1963 recalls that as an adolescent he

discovered from reading Dostoevsky—not the Bible—that all people are sinners, that suffering is common,

and that one’s pain is trivial except insofar as one uses it to connect with the pain of others. He can

summon the apt phrase from Henry James (“Live, live all you can. It’s a mistake not to”).

“As Much Truth As One Can Bear,” taken from The New York Times Book Review in 1962, has Baldwin talking

with authority and intensity about the sorrow of Gatsby and what the receding green light means for his

generation of novelists, and how Hemingway’s “reputation began to be unassailable at the very instant

that his work began that decline from which it never recovered—at about the time of For Whom the Bell

Tolls.” Faulkner, he observes, is more appalled by the crimes his forebears committed against themselves

than he is by the crimes they committed against Negroes, and Dos Passos writes of an American innocence

that must be betrayed if the nation is to grow.

Americans use language to cover the sleeper, not to wake him, Baldwin said, which was why the writer as

artist is so important. Only the artist could reveal society and help it to renew itself. It never made

sense to him to speak following Philip Rahv’s essay of “Paleface and Redface in American Literature,”

because he could not think of an American novelist in whom the two traditions were not inextricably


One hears, it seems to me, in the work of all American novelists, even including the mighty Henry James,

songs of the plains, the memory of a virgin continent, mysteriously despoiled, though all dreams were to

have become possible here. This did not happen. And the panic, then, to which I have referred comes out

of the fact that we are now confronting the awful question of whether or not all our dreams have failed.

How have we managed to become what we have, in fact, become? And if we are, as indeed we seem to be, so

empty and so desperate, what are we to do about it? How shall we put ourselves in touch with reality?
After she sat on a book prize committee with Baldwin, Mary McCarthy expressed her astonishment that he

had read just about everything. Her surprise would at first seem an insult, but then the literary side of

Baldwin is hardly known, compared to the eloquent spokesman for racial justice.

The Cross of Redemption has a notebook-like quality because the pieces are uneven, and in the inclusion

of interviews that have Baldwin riffing in one way, testing in another. However, Kenan’s volume suggests

more strongly than anything before what we most want in the way of a posthumous Baldwin publication: his

letters. The most intriguing selection in the book is “Letters from a Journey,” a series of letters to

his agent about a trip to Africa that he planned in 1961, but that he did not take. The series was

published in Harper’s in 1963. Baldwin starts out in Israel in September, as a gateway to Africa, but by

October he is in Istanbul, full of excuses, asking for money, full of plans, doing everything except

going to Africa:

This is one of the reasons I jumped at the Grove Press invitation [to go to Africa]: it gives me a

deadline to get out of NY. For I must say, my dear Bob—though I am perhaps excessively melancholy

today—one thing which this strange and lonely journey has made me feel even more strongly is that it’s

much better for me to try to stay out of the US as much as possible. I really do find American life

intolerable and, more than that, personally menacing. I know that I will never be able to expatriate

myself again—but I also somehow know that the incessant strain and terror—for me—of continued living

there will prove, finally, to be more than I can stand.
This, like all such decisions, is wholly private and unanswerable, probably irrevocable and probably

irrational—whatever that last word may mean. What it comes to is that I am already fearfully

menaced—within—by my vision and am under the obligation to minimize my dangers. It is one thing to try to

become articulate where you are, relatively speaking, left alone to do so and quite another to make this

attempt in a setting where the terrors of other people so corroborate your own. I think that I must

really reconcile myself to being a transatlantic commuter—and turn to my advantage, and not impossibly

the advantage of others, the fact that I am a stranger everywhere.
This is the Baldwin who has sometimes smiled out at us from the pages of his biographers, the writer

making up the fabulous figure, Jimmy Baldwin, as he goes along. A few lines in his own words from Turkey

have more fascination than Magdalena J. Zaborowska’s recent and impossibly written James Baldwin’s

Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile (2009) can hope to muster. Nothing about him can compete with his own

voice. People who have read some of Baldwin’s letters—Hilton Als, one of the most perceptive critics on

Baldwin; James Campbell, his best biographer; and Caryl Phillips, a young friend of Baldwin’s in his last

years—say that they are among his best work, especially the many he wrote home to his mother during his

early days in Paris, and that it is a pity the Baldwin family has not yet published them. They might

still have perceived, as Henry James said of Emerson’s confused parishioners, that he was the prayer and

the sermon, “not in the least a secularizer, but in his own subtle insinuating way a sanctifier.”

F.W. Dupee, " James Baldwin and the 'Man,' " The New York Review , February 1, 1963. ↩

Jimmy Baldwin: Stirring the Waters by Darryl Pinckney | The New York Review of Books

Jimmy Baldwin: Stirring the Waters by Darryl Pinckney | The New York Review of Books

James Baldwin

Nancy Crampton

James Baldwin, New York City, 1976


Jimmy Baldwin: Stirring the Waters
Darryl Pinckney

Life never bribed him to look at anything but the soul, Henry James said of Emerson, and one could say the same of James Baldwin, with a similar suggestion that the price for his purity was blindness about some other things in life. 

Baldwin possessed to an extraordinary degree what James called Emerson’s “special capacity for moral experience.” He, too, is persuasive in his antimaterialism. Baldwin, like Emerson, renounced the pulpit—he had been a fiery boy preacher in Harlem—and readers have found in the writings of each the atmosphere of church.

It’s not that Emerson and Baldwin have much in common as writers. Harlem was not Concord. Except for his visits to England, Emerson stayed put for fifty years and Baldwin spent his adult life in search of a home. 

Yet Baldwin and Emerson both can speak directly to another person’s soul, as James would have it, in a way that “seems to go back to the roots of our feelings, to where conduct and manhood begin.”


CBC News - Books - Johanna Skibsrud wins Giller Prize

CBC News - Books - Johanna Skibsrud wins Giller Prize

Only 800 copies of The Sentimentalists were originally printed by small publishing house Gaspereau Press in the first run. The book's inclusion among the Giller Prize finalists forced the small five-person operation to print about 1,000 copies a week in an attempt to keep up with demand.

A Giller win usually leads to an explosion in sales, so the small press may face a struggle in the weeks ahead.

Skibsrud's first poetry collection, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys, was published in 2008 by Gaspereau Press and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award. Originally from Scotsburn, N.S., she now lives in Montreal.

The Sentimentalists is a debut novel by Johanna Skibsrud.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2010/11/09/giller-prize-2010.html#ixzz14rRz2abt


A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal
for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland
from Being A Burden to their Parents or Country,
and for Making them Beneficial to the Public

by Jonathan Swift
It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.
I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.
But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.
As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. It is true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.
There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us!sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.
The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remains one hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing, till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.
I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; and even when they come to this age they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.
I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.
I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.
Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.
I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, laborers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have eight shillings net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.
As to our city of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.
A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased in discoursing on this matter to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service; and these to be disposed of by their parents, if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me, from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable; and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission be a loss to the public, because they soon would become breeders themselves; and besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice (although indeed very unjustly), as a little bordering upon cruelty; which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, however so well intended.
But in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality as a prime dainty; and that in his time the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty's prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court, in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at playhouse and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for, the kingdom would not be the worse.
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young laborers, they are now in as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labor, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.
I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies; and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.
Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.
Thirdly, Whereas the maintenance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old and upward, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a-piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds per annum, beside the profit of a new dish introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.
Fourthly, The constant breeders, beside the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating: and a skillful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.
Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards or enforced by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public, to their annual profit instead of expense. We should see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.
Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barreled beef, the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well-grown, fat, yearling child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a lord mayor's feast or any other public entertainment. But this and many others I omit, being studious of brevity.
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After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion as to reject any offer proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, as things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for an hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock would leave them in debt two millions of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession to the bulk of farmers, cottagers, and laborers, with their wives and children who are beggars in effect: I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold as to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food, at a year old in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like or greater miseries upon their breed for ever.
I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.