Friday, September 19, 2008

James Baldwin.

Last night J and I went with our good friend A to see a documentary about James Baldwin called The Price of the Ticket. Baldwin pops into my life from time to time to edify and inspire me. I would recommend this film, but I just looked on Netflix and saw that it's not listed, which means it's probably not generally available. It's a great doc if you run across it. There's also a great biography by David Leeming, which I read a couple years ago and would recommend.

I don't know how I'm going to manage it with this pile of books I have to read for classes, but I'm going to try to read The Fire Next Time (Baldwin's long essay about being black in America) again this fall. I don't know of anyone who was smarter about racism than Baldwin and now is the season to brush on that subject.

After the film, we had dinner at Curra's, one of my favorite Austin restaurants, and we talked about Baldwin and Paris and the election. We're all so hopeful that Obama will be elected, and I said that what I look forward to most is feeling proud to live in a country that can elect someone like Obama, proud to live in a time and place where that is possible. It feels huge to me. And then we allowed ourselves to speculate on the possibility of McCain winning the election, and we all decided that we wouldn't be able to tolerate living in a place where that could happen, and we thought about Paris, where Baldwin lived for many years because he couldn't tolerate the racism in the U.S. in the fifties, but then I said that since I'm learning Spanish I would like to be an expatriot in a Spanish-speaking country, so we decided on Spain. I'll have to brush up on my vosotros.

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