Quote from “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin

The following is a quote from James Baldwin’s 1963 book in which he discusses “the Negro problem” in early Sixties’ America, and the corresponding hypocrisy of American Christianity,  of both, white and black America.

Except for the fact that I personally know “we” do not return to a terrifying darkness, I completely agree with the contents of this quote. 

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.” ― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time.

11 thoughts on “Quote from “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin

  1. Dermott Hayes

    Baldwin always cut to the chase; uncompromising prose, brilliantly written. You may disagree but to contradict him is a challenge.


  2. We come from dreams ~

    What a lovely and true thing, this passage of his! At the end of his “Messiah,” Gore Vidal’s main character (forgot his name) realizes as he is dying that he gave his whole vibrant life to the lie. None of that shit for me (I hope).


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Great comment! None of that shit for me either… and I know it, hah! F*** Y** Time Lords! will be my parting words when I leave this plane… 🙂


      1. We come from dreams ~

        I’m just going, no noise. There’s an old Celt blessing that almost applies here, “May yE be in Heaven for an half an hour before the Devil even knows yE’re dead.” I’ll pass on Heaven, thanks.


  3. tubularsock

    Tubularsock hasn’t thought about Baldwin for years. Wasn’t the title of that book derived from a Biblical reference expressed in a slave song, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!” ?

    Not sure, but that is what Tubularsock recalls. Read all his work back in the 60’s and still have them in my library but I’d have to go there so I’ll just trust my memory. Doesn’t really matter anyway.

    But Tubularsock does agree with you Sha’Tara that ‘“we” do not return to a terrifying darkness”.
    Nor do we come said “darkness”.


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Tubularsock. I’m of the opinion that we create and live with our own darkness. It is the controllers who impose their own darkness on others, the narcissists and sociopaths, many of whom use that power of darkness to propel themselves into positions of power where they exercise the “right” of life and death over others.

      Liked by 1 person


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