Tuesday, April 5, 2011

James Baldwin, "Just Above My Head"

"If one wishes to be instructed- not that anyone does- concerning the treacherous role that memory plays in a human life, consider how relentlessly the water of memory refuses to break, how it impedes that journey into the air of time. Time: the whisper beneath that word is death. With this unanswerable weight hanging heavier and heavier over one's head, the vision becomes cloudy, nothing is what it seems...

How then, can I trust my memory concerning that particular Sunday afternoon?... Beneath the face of anyone you ever loved for true- anyone you love, you will always love, love is not at the mercy of time and it does not recognize death, they are strangers to each other- beneath the face of the beloved, however ancient, ruined, and scarred, is the face of the baby your love once was, and will always be, for you. Love serves, then, if memory doesn't, and passion, apart from its tense relation to agony, labors beneath the shadow of death. Passion is terrifying, it can rock you, change you, bring your head under, as when a wind rises from the bottom of the sea, and you're out there in the craft of your mortality, alone."

- James Baldwin, "Just Above My Head"

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