Sunday, March 25, 2012

A peculiar and monstrous people

The failure on our part to accept the reality of pain, of anguish, of ambiguity, of death, has turned us into a very peculiar and monstrous people.  It means, for one thing, and it's very serious, that people who have had no experience have no compassion.  People who have had no experience suppose that if a man is a thief, he is a thief; but, in fact, that isn't the most important thing about him.  The most important thing about him is that he is a man and, furthermore, that if he's a thief or a murderer or whatever he is, you could also be and you would know this, anyone would know this who had really dared to live.

James Baldwin, from an article in a 1964 edition of Playboy.  [Quoted on page 313 of Colm Tóibín's book, New Ways to Kill Your Mother]
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