Sunday, July 31, 2011

If You Don't Wish Upon a Star...

I'm writing a book. One that will hopefully become an epic of sweeping, narrative power and  completely undermine the correlation some individuals make between teenagers and vampire lit (sweet Stephanie had such good intentions, but they turned into an entire Teen Literature Section at Barnes and Nobles HISSING at me.) The first few pages of this novel will be posted up on le blog, and more excerpts will be acomin' as the year progresses at my attaining more time to revise. So there's one more question, now, is there not?...
A: [UOMO DI SPERANZA tries to be refined with his noise pointed in the air, but instead has an eager, puppy-dog-like mug.] Success and what forces may cause us to inhibit ourselves from attaining it. However, the twist comes with an unreliable narrator, one whose experiences are unforgettable in a quite bad manner indeed. Picture A Northern Light fraternizing with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time just before the two novels meet The Help for lunch. Descriptive enough for you?

Baldwin in an all-knowing pose. Can't you see the literary magic bursting
out of those fingers?
In the marvelous spirit of discussing success, today's post will concern an essay by the famed writer James Baldwin, an African American who wrote during much of the twentieth century. His writings aided the Civil Rights Movement and are now imperative aspects of the American Literary Canon. Baldwin composed an essay about his life entitled "Autobiographical Notes", which one can view right here, early on in his career. And my stalking begins-
             It was in his early life that James Baldwin fought in a rebellion, a revolution of sorts, which left no part of his body scathed. This revolution did not require any weapons since distinct peoples or countries were not involved, did not require travelling to any alien place. No, the revolution was one that, throughout Baldwin’s entire life, occurred only within the man’s self.
            From the onset of his life, James Baldwin was in rebellion against different phenomena in his world. He confesses to have “read just about everything [he] could get [his] hands on--except the Bible, probably because it was the only book [he] was encouraged to read.” This is an example of Baldwin resisting what his elders taught him about literature. His first published writing was a piece about the Spanish Revolution which, although accepted for publication there, was so “censored by the lady editor” of a church newspaper that young James was “outraged” (don't worry, little James, the author of this blog would probably have experienced the same reaction plus a day-long period of screaming!) The only action from which this censoring could possibly result was Baldwin composing a piece that resisted his church’s ideals.   
            James confessed in the piece that his path to becoming a writer within his adolescence and adulthood also included much resistance. This path began with “the most difficult (and most rewarding) thing in his life”-making “some kind of truce” with the fact that he was an African American. But in order to make that “truce”, Baldwin had to first realize that he was a “bastard of the west”, an individual identifiable with neither the “jungle” or “the stones of Paris”. As an African American, he was resisting complete relevance to singularly African or singularly European culture. Writing about his being a “negro”, a global mutt, was “the gate [he] had to unlock before writing about anything else.” But then why did he only forge a “truce” with his being an African American, and not fully embrace it? Well, James was simultaneously rebelling against identification as just an African American-James Baldwin was the James Baldwin, not exactly a European, not exactly an African, not even the certain mixture of them both that is an African American. It was in fact the James Baldwin who wrote this essay, not just an African American.
            When this journey into his writing prime was complete, Baldwin ended up with some prolific ideas about a writer’s life that included a theme of resistance. He states how “Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent [and] it is only because the world looks on his talent with such a frightening indifference that the artist is compelled to make his talent important.” Therefore, the attitude of resistance within James Baldwin’s life has caused him to think that all writers should make themselves recognized by resisting the “world”, or the forces, that “look on his talent with…a frightening indifference.” Baldwin also believed that writers should “examine attitudes,…go beneath the surface,…[and] tap the source”,  for example establishing “between himself and…[social] affairs a great distance” so that the writer can take “a long look back.” The only reason why one would want to distance himself from social affairs and look into their past is if he desires to rebel against any belief of that past’s full discovery, the way to rebel being a discovery of new information. If new information is found about that past, then obviously a belief of everything about that past being previously discovered is false. This new information about that past in turn permits the writer to “look forward in a meaningful sense” so he can discover a new phenomenon about the present or future of social affairs, a new one that in turn rebels against any belief in full discovery of the present or future of social affairs. The aforementioned principle can also be used with any other phenomenon that a writer may be interested in, such as science or political affairs. James Baldwin, you little rebel…

Baldwin's Debut Novel
            But why did all of the efforts at rebellion here succeed in an excellent fashion? Baldwin went on to ultimately identify himself as the James Baldwin, defeat forces that oppressed his palpable writing talent, and discover new phenomena in the past, present, and future of social affairs with his classic writings that include Go Tell It On the Mountain.  Well, the answer is that intelligent Baldwin insured that he always knew exactly what he was rebelling against. In his childhood, he was rebelling against what his elders told him specifically in the area of literature. If he just rebelled against everything that his elders told him, he would have probably ended up a crackpot hobo living on some forgotten corner of Candy land. In his life as a writer, he specifically rebelled against the forces that treated his talent with indifference, not anyone else’s. If he concentrated on defeating the forces that treated someone else’s with indifference before concentrating on the defeat of those that treated his with indifference, then his path to success, his self-revolution full of so many resistances, would have probably occupied much more time.
            Now how wondrous would it be to study the Baldwin revolution rather than the American, eh? Or maybe the revolution of Brittany Spears? Miley Cyrus? That woman about to cross the street over there? Charlie Sheen, dare I say it? You? Yes, you-go ahead, because each person alive has all the internal strength he needs to make a robust army. Go ahead, and in the words of the wonderful Jack Dosson (HINT-HINT-WINK-WINK!), "make it count."
            That's all for now, folks. I'll be writing my daily 2,000 words and attempting to recover from an invigorating day at the beach, one where I was almost trampled by an army of lifeguards. In speedos. Yikes.

This post used the following source:
"About the Author: James Baldwin." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. PBS: Public Broadcasting   Service. Web. 31 July 2011.


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