Saturday, September 15, 2012
"The role of the artist is exactly the same role, I think, as the role of the lover. If you love somebody, you honor at least two necessities at once. One of them is to recognize something very dangerous, or very difficult. Many people cannot recognize it at all, that you may also be loved; love is like a mirror. In any case, if you do love somebody, you honor the necessity endlessly, and being at the mercy of that love, you try to correct the person whom you love. Now, that’s a two way street. You’ve also got to be corrected. As I said, the people produce the artist, and it’s true. The artist also produces the people. And that’s a very violent and terrifying act of love. The role of the artist and the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. Insofar as that is true, in that effort, I become conscious of the things that I don’t see. And I will not see without you, and vice versa, you will not see without me. No one wants to see more than he sees. You have to be driven to see what you see. The only way you can get through it is to accept that two-way street which I call love. You can call it a poem, you can call it whatever you like. That’s how people grow up. An artist is here not to give you answers but to ask you questions" [italics added]."
–"The Black Scholar Interviews James Baldwin," The Black Scholar 5 (December 1973-January 1974), pp. 33-42
My god, Marge, you have to know you did what you could.
What did I do, Bobby? Give him sex? What’s that worth?
He tells her that’s not what he meant. He think to himself
she tried to reverse what the nun did to him, dispel grief,
his grief, with her coarse yet pitying, even worshiping, loving way.
She says she wanted to make love to him and wanted him to love her.
In her world, she said, men and women no longer made love with.
Huerfano came home, found them in bed, and said, Don’t bother,
and walked out. Marge said he must be pissed. Bobby said, Sure is.
Marge grabbed his penis, he pulled away, put on trousers and shirt
and followed Jim down the street to Ravenna Park. Jim hit him, he fell.
He got up and Jim hit him again. He got up a third time and Jim hit him
a third time. Jim said, She may have said Oh, it’s OK, Jim won’t be home
for a day or so, but it’s not OK, I don’t say anything when she fucks you
somewhere else, but hell, I don’t like it, it’s just that she’s suffered too much
having our daughter taken away, doing time in prison like me, facing the rest
of her life turning tricks to make a living when my inheritance will be used up soon.
Bobby tells Jim he was talking with her about Gerry. Beasley? Jim says in disbelief. She blew Beasley and forced him to fuck her, but that was nothing more than the nun did to him. I don’t know why she even bothered. She may even have helped Beasley die, for all I know. She didn’t come home for a week and when she did all she could talk about was Hamlet, what Beasley told her about his version of Shakespeare’s Danish play, I like to call it, and there she learned Denmark was the Wild West, there were black people there and Beasley was talking about something other than patricide, he was saying his father’s ghost was around when he arrived home to tell him the master of the plantation had murdered him to have his way with your mother . . . How does a young black man revenge himself on the white master? Gerry always talked in this baritone voice and measured his words precisely.
Bobby said he asked her since you weren’t home, and it all came to this, her demonstrating on me what happened when she was with Beasley. Jim said he knew all that; why didn’t you ask me when I got home? I was putting in my time in jail, and with the help of my lawyer getting off a drug charge–someone must have smuggled a lid into my pocket because when the cops stopped me, it was there, and the only thing that saved me from going back to stir was they arrested the guy later for possession and for some reason, I don’t know why, he confessed he’d tried to unload all his shit on me . . . You could have waited and I’d tell you the rest of it. Hamlet was named for the Shakespeare play, his father knew how to read and now all you hear is how Frederick Douglass was the only slave lucky enough to learn to read. Maybe Beasley was modeling his Hamlet on Douglass, he never said, I just liked to hear Gerry talk, he went at it so smoothly, clearly, driving the words into the air like jackhammers . . .
Hamlet returns to save his mother from her owner, he comes home white,
that’s the part that knocks me out, Gerry took John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me and reversed the process! Then Hamlet’s years in the North as a fugitive slave came to an end. He smuggled himself back and it was when his Ophelia commits suicide that Gerry said, I need to finish it before I die but I don’t know why Ophelia drowned herself in the bayou waters, I don’t know why she’d do that if she didn’t believe Hamlet was not who he was. Bobby took fresh grass with rain or dew clinging to the blades and wiped the blood off. Jim said, Let’s go back and I’ll take Marge to the Viceroy for dinner and apologize, she’s a good woman, for me, and I don’t want to lose her, and you’re welcome to come. Bobby bowed out.
(15 September 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander