Reading

James Baldwin is a wonderful writer. I’m working my way slowly through The Fire Next Time, and the following passage just punched me in the chest:

Here was the South Side – a million in captivity – stretching from this doorstep as far as the eye could see. Ands they didn’t even read; depressed populations don’t have the time or energy to spare. The affluent populations, which should have been their help, didn’t, as far as could be discovered, read, either – they merely bought books and devoured them, but not in order to learn: in order to learn new attitudes. (Baldwin, 1993 p. 61)

Never have I ever felt so nailed by a critique. Have I ever really read to learn? Or has it always been to learn new attitudes? What’s the difference between learning [x] and learning a new attitude? What sorts of books is Baldwin talking about? And how does Baldwin distinguish between learning and learning new attitudes?

This last question seems to me to be a consequential one, and I would love to know how Baldwin makes the distinction (and if he is on record explaining it anywhere, I would love to read/watch.. so please leave a comment if you know).

I quoted from the First Vintage International Edition of the book, published in 1993.

Extracurricular Reading

I have a great extracurricular reading list for the summer. It’s not one that I established at the end of the semester or anything. It’s something that will evolve as my outside interests shift in response to whatever it is they respond to. Right now I’m reading the following:

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I’m just about done with the top two titles and preparing to start the bottom two. There is no logic to these titles or the order in which I’m reading them. They’re just enjoyable and in some cases quite useful (and in some cases peripherally related to current research…). If you’re interested in them, here are some links you can follow to find out more:

Peak by Anders Ericsson

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

Leading with Questions by Michael Marquardt

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Seymour Hersh

 

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