Pop Culture
Aug 27, 2016, 08:00AM

He Was in Therapy

A 1965 debate address by the late novelist/essayist James Baldwin vs. a 2016 New York Magazine article by former Gawker editor Max Read.

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James Baldwin: Leaving aside the bloody catalog of oppression, which we are in one way too familiar with already, what this does to the subjugated, the most private, the most serious thing this does to the subjugated, is to destroy his sense of reality.

Max Read: He was still hard to talk to, just not in a scary way. He was in therapy.

Baldwin: But he doesn’t know what drives him to use the club, to menace with the gun and to use the cattle prod.

Read: Eventually, a few dozen people stumbled out and into cabs for some late, drunk, terrible karaoke.

Baldwin: But not only in the Deep South.


Read: And then the cost of doing business turned out to be $140 million.

Baldwin: One knows the power, after all, which can be used against another person if you’ve got absolute power over that person. It is a matter of historical record.

Read: I could see myself being here in ten years.

Baldwin: You are thirty by now and nothing you have done has helped to escape the trap.

Read: Like, say, contacting major advertisers. Instead, what I brought was a nuclear reactor.


Baldwin: It comes as a great shock to discover that Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, when you were rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians were you.

Read: The opposite is just cruel. Still, the extent of mainstream condemnation was cheeky expressions of disgust—physical, not moral.

Baldwin: What is crucial here is that unless we can manage to accept, establish some kind of dialog between those people whom I pretend have paid for the American dream and those other people who have not achieved it, we will be in terrible trouble.

Read: Well. The question remains, who killed it?

Baldwin: Thank you.


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