Offered without Comment

“The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their only weapon against life, life is all that they have.  That is why the dispossessed and starving will never be convinced (though some may be coerced) by the population-control programs of the civilized. . . .  The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their ‘vital interests’ are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the ‘sanctity’ of human life, or the ‘conscience’ of the civilized world.  There is a ‘sanctity’ involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it.  Dreadful indeed it is to see a starving child, but the answer is not to prevent the child’s arrival, but to restructure the world so that the child can live in it: so that the ‘vital interest’ of the world becomes nothing less than the life of the child” (James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work, 16-17).

“The question of identity is a question involving the most profound panic–a terror as primary as the nightmare of the mortal fall.  The question can scarcely be said to exist among the wretched, who know, merely, that they are wretched and who bear it day by day–it is a mistake to suppose that the wretched do not know that they are wretched; nor does this question exist among the splendid, who know, merely, that they are splendid, and who flaunt it, day by day; it is a mistake to suppose that the splendid have any intention of surrendering their splendor.  An identity is questioned only when it is menaced, as when the mighty begin to fall, or when the wretched begin to rise, or when the stranger enters the gates, never, thereafter, to be a stranger: the stranger’s presence making you the stranger, less to the stranger than to yourself.  Identity seems to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self; in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned.  This trust in one’s nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one’s robes” (The Devil Finds Work, 79-80).

“last night I had a recurrence of that dream which, as I told Mother Sugar [the protagonist’s analyst], was the most frightening of all . . . When she asked me to ‘give a name to it’ (to give it form), I said it was a nightmare about destruction.  Later, when I dreamed it again, and she said: Give it a name, I was able to go further: I said it was a nightmare about the principle of spite, or malice–joy in spite. . . . [T]he principle or element took shape in an old man, almost dwarf-like . . . . This old man smiled and giggled and snickered, was ugly, vital and powerful, and again, what he represented was pure spite, malice, joy in a destructive impulse.  . . . And the creature was always powerful, with an inner vitality which I knew was caused by a purposeless, undirected, causeless spite.  It mocked and jibed and hurt, wished murder, wished death.  And yet it was always vibrant with joy” (Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook, 456-457).

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