Thursday, September 19, 2019
Autobiographical Comparison :: James Baldwin Philosophy Essays
Autobiographical Comparison While reading through James Baldwin's Autobiographical Notes, I was struck with a sudden flash of inspiration. I already knew that I enjoyed Baldwin's works more than any others we have read in class so far: Rodriguez's writing I found to be dull and victimized; Jacobs's was precisely an explanation of how bad slaves lives were and nothing more; and although Virginia Woolf's writings were not painful to read the overall style left me feeling dreamy and disconcerted (after a while all those semicolons got to me). Baldwin's writing had not only content, but a reflection upon it that I found interesting to read. He offered a fresh perspective, analyzing the social history of America and its causes. It is very interesting to read the sections discussing the concept of fighting poison by using poison, and the section discussing the choice of amputation or gangrene. Rather than throw up his hands in despair and say, "Life's not fair that I must choose between amputation and gangrene," he analyzes the benefits and trade-offs. All this I knew before reading his Autobiographical Notes, but while I read them I was suddenly struck with a very powerful revelation. I realized that I liked his writings because I found in him the same philosophy I have adopted. I immediately wondered if there was a connection between our philosophies and the fact that we were both minorities. I'm curious as to how much of the similarities in our philosophies can be attributed to being minorities, and how many differences can be explained by the fact that we are from two different minorities and those that can be explained by the fact that he wrote and lived generations removed from myself. There are three main similarities between our philosophies that I would like to discuss, although the three are likely closely related. The first is that even bad situations contain their associated good. Baldwin writes that the things which hurt and the things which help cannot be divorced from each other. I am not sure how widely spread this idea is, but I certainly believe it. Since around the time I was in 3rd grade, I have believed that good can not exist without bad. Furthermore, I believe that the sum of one's life that he considers good and that which he considers bad will in the end come out equal.