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Ed Pavlic interview on James Baldwin.

Justin Desmangles (JD): As many regular listeners to the program know, we have the pleasure, indeed the honor of Ed Pavlic joining us this afternoon for a discussion of his most recent book.

It's new from Fordham University Press, 'Who Can Afford to Improvise?': James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners. Ed, are you there?

Ed Pavlic (EP): I'm here, I'm here.

JD: Oh, wonderful to have you here with us; thank you for being so generous with your time. Now over the course of the last couple hours, I've been drawing quite a bit of music from the archive that relates directly to this extraordinary work that you've done with James Baldwin. As I mentioned in a conversation yesterday between the two of us, my introduction to James Baldwin actually came first through his voice. Through the sound and intonation, the rhythm and the color, the passion and intellectual harmony, you might say, of this extraordinary being. Indeed, there is a deep music to his sound, but there is also a profound interpretation of the word and the power of the word. Perhaps, we can begin there. I was playing some Thelonious Monk, because I feel his interpretive stance from within the tradition is not unlike that of James Baldwin, in as much as he is facing the tradition, but he is also deciphering and interpreting the inner qualifications of that tradition and sometimes coming up with some surprises that we may not have known were even there.

EP: Yes, absolutely. I've said a lot of times that James Baldwin used the American vocabulary in the way Billie Holiday used the Broadway show tune, but it works just as well with Thelonious Monk or any two dozen jazz greats. And it doesn't stop there. That's the kind of thing that Baldwin thought about, when he used a word or employed the practice of improvisation itself.

JD: Yes, yes. Well, part of the magic, if you like, that I experience, that so many of us experience in James Baldwin's work, is a kind of sense of liberation. Of being free from many of the assumptions or presumptions that are hoisted upon us, imposed upon us, by the language itself. And there really is this kind of oscillation between inner and outer worlds that happens with all of his work, a kind of unbinding us internally. This seems to connect with his own religious beliefs. His belief of the spirit into the word, the word animating the world outside. Could you talk to us a little bit about that?

EP: Well, that's really interesting. As far as how James Baldwin's life as a teenage preacher relates to his work as a writer and his place in our culture, I think it's absolutely true. I think you are absolutely right. James Baldwin was a writer and a great speaker and a great thinker and believed and cherished the intricacy and the power and the potential of language, but he wasn't a person who believed that language began and ended with words. That it was experienced first. It was mute and brute and certainly unspoken, and then it is drawn up into language. And then passed back and forth between us in that form. But he wasn't your average postmodern kind of writer who believed that things all begin and end with language. James Baldwin was a modernist in that sense. That there is a prelinguistic reality out there. That you come and go from--in language which is not exactly under your control but always with a sense of potential and a sense of risk in it. So I think that is fair to say, for sure.

JD: I'm so happy that you are bringing us back to that sense of James Baldwin's work, which is so sensuous and so physical, because it really is a very embodied sense of language. Language that begins with the experience of the body and moves outward rather than, as you were saying, with some post-modern, poststructuralist type of analysis that kind of alienates the body in the last analysis, I think.

EP: That's right.

JD: He doesn't indulge in those kind of intellectual conundrums or games. He gets right into the body itself and often attempts to free our imagination of who we really are at that level, yeah?

EP: That's right. That's exactly right. If most immediately in the sense that James Baldwin was a person who crafted the meaning of words, but he very much crafted the sound and the rhythm of words. So this was all a musical enterprise in his life, as well as an intellectual one, for sure. That's why the musicians themselves were such powerful factors in his meditation on everything, and many of them were actually his friends. A few musicians who knew James Baldwin thought that he had more in common with musicians than writers. Certainly, in the hours he kept. I think that is more or less true, (laughs)

JD: One of the most vital and persuasive points that weaves together all the different areas that you explore in this extraordinary work is the way that James Baldwin comes out of the tradition of telling it like it is. And coming into a direct and unflinching confrontation with the objective world. Which we find in the blues impulse. Could you share with us some thoughts about that? Because that really is a thread that weaves together throughout the various chapters of this extraordinary work.

EP: Certainly. Somewhere in the woven threads of African American musicality and the black musical tradition is this strange impulse to air, play around with, make fun of, but be very, very frank and forthcoming with vexing and troublesome autobiographical facts of one's life. The experiences of one's world. And it seems to me there is so much in American life, which pushes back against those types of utterances, which would cause people to hide and to be secret. And, of course, everyone does that too, but in the Black musical world there is a venue that really celebrates and finds great pleasure in communion with exactly the things that most vex and often alienate people from each other. And so, in the blues, as Ralph Ellison so brilliantly called the "blues impulse," he was thinking about Richard Wright's work, when he was writing in those terms. In that part of the tradition you have this very, very strange and unique forum where people are coming together under this umbrella of the paradoxical and the contradictory and the tragic and the foolhardy and, you know, all those things. Turns out, of course, that those terrible things that we keep to our chest and keep in our closet are actually things that communicate very powerfully through the human world. We think we should hold them back, often because we think this is what will keep us back from people, and maybe it will with some. But, it's the fact of the tradition itself, the blues couldn't have become popular the way they were. And certainly couldn't inspire the kind of literary work that they did, if it wasn't true that those craggy and twisted facets of who we are really powerful connective devices.

And so, for James Baldwin telling it like it is, in its autobiographical sense, for oneself, for himself, was always joined with this notion that if I'm telling this for me, then I'm speaking for others, as well. And in the book I talk a lot about the capacity of Black musicality but also of James Baldwin's voice as a function of that tradition. As a function of that musicality to say different things to different people in one single phrase. And, of course, that is an inevitability in language, but we are talking about a tradition, which is a great sculptural tradition with that inevitability. Which doesn't find chaos in uncontrollability with that but finds great potential and great necessity in that function of language to speak in many voices at once. The great line early in my book that comes from Michael Ondaatje's work where he notes "the fact that Fats Waller was talking to someone over your shoulder as well as to you."

JD: Well, now you bring up so many vital and necessary and urgent points, and so I hope we can get to at least a few of them over the course of the hour. Let me step back a little bit to one of the early things that you just shared with us, and it has to do in part with what I find as an extraordinary courage on the part of James Baldwin, and that is to connect personal and political worlds. A little earlier I talked about this oscillation between the inner and the outer world, but really it's the exposition of the personal as political, which would later become emblematic of feminist intellectuals in the women's liberation movement, which James Baldwin anticipated with pre-sage with some considerable years. But again, getting back to this point, the use of humor, which is connected to that blues impulse, which is connected to that tradition of telling it like it is, also shatters the facade of society's assumptions and delivers a very damaging critique. And yet, at the same time, it's funny. They may be laughing to keep from crying, but it's funny as hell. James Baldwin was a very insightful humorist. Could we pick up on that thread and work our way back to some of the other stuff you were saying?

EP: Well, gosh, there is a lot there again.

JD: It connects with Fats Waller. That's for sure.

EP: Well, in this notion that part of the blues really is about autobiographical statements, a very singular, first person accounts of things. Let's face it: humor is contagious. Just to see people laughing, anywhere in the world, makes one smile. I know I'm not laughing at you, I guess, (laughs) I think that that's one of those ways, by some genius really, people figured out that one of the twists that make the voice communicate is to convey itself humorously, because it is such a seductive and fluent transmission that humor can make.

JD: And again, to put a double edge on that, as naturally it should be, it delivers, as I said, a perhaps, far more insightful and ultimately damaging critique of those facades that are constructed on the assumptions that are very fragile, which James Baldwin reveals again and again. Assumptions about American reality. Or the facade of America, which is certainly crumbling at a remarkable rate in our present time.

EP: Gosh, yeah. Well, these are fragile assumptions the culture has about itself, but it's also backed up with great force.

JD: There it is.

EP: And great violence. If they were stronger assumptions, they wouldn't need the kind of arsenals they seem to require to keep their place in the world. And, you know, it's funny when you talk about humor, because often these satirical statements of James Baldwin, and others, Richard Pryor, said these are things that aren't funny at all. That people end up laughing at. The question becomes: What is it that makes things funny? There is a modernist philosopher named Bergson. He wrote a book on humor, and he said that the essence of humor is putting things out of their place. So you take the low, and you make it high. You take the king and you make him low. Humor is to play with the inter-changeability of social position and cultural hierarchy. So deep in the fabric of what makes things funny, at the deepest level, is this playing with place. And, of course, in African American history, the notion of staying in one's place is a massively political and historically loaded set of assumptions. Which again, are fragile, but come with perilous force. That rightly shouldn't be played around with, but there go the comedians who are the first out there-through the doorway to play around with things.

JD: And again, to emphasize this point, which we shared earlier, is a remarkable series of gestures of tremendous courage on James Baldwin's part. I remember as a teenager, first coming into the light of James Baldwin's work, really being swept away by the great love that he has for everyone. And his ability, which I believe in our day and age is uncanny, to render even his closest enemies, if you will, with the full dimension of their human experience and contradictions.

EP: Yes, well, this is something he insisted upon, because he understood the deep logic of the idea that all hatred is self-hatred.

JD: There it is. Could you unpack that a little further?

EP: That human realities are so entangled with each other. The reality is that one's feelings about the world are never one-directional. One's already too involved with one's perceptions of the world. Whatever we see in life, we are also seeing our self there. If we recognize it, we are recognizing our self. If we say we don't recognize it, chances are we've loaded it up with something we don't want to see. The reality of human consciousness and human experience is that. It is, in essence, interaction. So, those feelings of hatred or violence or whatever they may be are coming back at you. This is something that James Baldwin was ambivalent [about], when it came to nonviolence as a philosophy and social practice. He admired it, but he had his questions about it. He certainly understood that one of its most powerful and sacred elements, that through that practice, one really did, at least, save oneself from becoming the mirror of the power, which was threatening you. Which I think James Baldwin thought was one of the key horrors of life. To become the image of that thing, which beset you. That's one of the great seductions of the social arena: is to fight fire with fire in that way, and therefore, you burn yourself.

JD: Let me pivot just slightly from what you are saying to a point that just dovetails with what you are describing, and it came from an interview not long ago with Quincy Troupe on the subject of James Baldwin. We were talking about our contemporary world and how James Baldwin might have commentated on it. One of the things that Quincy brought up right away had to do with a word and idea, which comes up quite a bit in James Baldwin's work, that we are alluding to here, that is almost never heard today, and that is conscience. That the individual does indeed have an honest, not fragmented, deep, sensual sense of what is right and what is wrong. And this is an idea that is barely broached anymore in the so-called social discourse or this kind of strange notion, but you hear it a lot in corporate-sponsored media, national conversation. One doesn't hear much about conscience.

EP: No, I think the default position seems to be that one's conscience seems to be a liability, and who can afford it? In a corrupt world, carrying that ballast of what's right through it makes it too heavy to get by. But, of course, there you are going down the river with it. And that way with no paddle. But part of what made James Baldwin so courageous, and so difficult really, in each of the eras that he worked through, was his insistence on multiple, often clashing, what I call registers of experience. Levels of your life. You feel one way about one dimension of your life, another way about another dimension, another way about a third. You have several of these dimensions of your life, and what writers--and, certainly politicians--do is: They feature one over the other, and make a kind of coherent statement in one direction on the basis of those silent other parts of your life. James Baldwin was radical in his reluctance to do that. He was also very fond of the word confession. Which is a term that I define at some length in the book.

You know, what exactly did Baldwin mean by confession? He didn't have the catholic idea of confession in mind. It wasn't about confessing one's sins, and it wasn't about a National Enquirer kind of airing-of-secrets kind of confession. A question I ran into early on in writing this book was: Okay, what is he really talking about? Through reading and rereading and listening to interviews and speeches that he gave, and so forth, I found that what James Baldwin means by confession is where a person is willing to or driven to interject the energy from one level of life, say your intimate life, into a social or a public forum. Or one realizes in intimate life, in the private life, one is often rehearsing and combating social, political and historical realities. And, of course, our modern, rational view of the world tends to keep these things segmented and separate. James Baldwin's notion of confession is that there is power to be derived, disruption to be derived, but power to be derived in a person's conscience, and then, of course, in their lives that radiates out into the world, from one refusing to be bracketed in those terms.

This, of course, has a lot to do with his own sexuality, and the way the world wanted to closet that. This is the reality of the way James Baldwin's body was in rhythm in the world. He would ve had to put himself in a "straight" jacket to really act straight in the 40's and the 50 s, when things were insisted upon with great vengeance, where a gay lifestyle was illegal in most states. James Baldwin was not always outspoken about his sexuality. In fact, he was actually quite rarely outspoken about that. At the same time, he almost never hid it. I think that his insistence to be at least visible, tangible and palpable in the world in a full sense as himself, I think, has something to do with that idea of confession. He's like gay people are not the only people in the world with something in the closet, (laughs) And it relates back to the blues. That you put these things out there. Then feminists came along, Audre Lorde, with her essay of "The Uses of the Erotic" ...

JD: Oh, incredible essay!

EP: ...in 1976. She's saying, really, the same exact thing I'm saying. Or that I'm saying James Baldwin is saying in the 50s and the 60s, which is you can't afford to have your passion. You can't afford to be told that your passion can only be expressed in the privacy of your house!

JD: That's exactly right.

EP: Interestingly, because James Baldwin thought passion, love, were incredibly powerful social energies. He wrote about that all over his work but maybe most visibly in, The Fire Next Time. Interestingly, after Baldwin published The Fire Next Time in the New Yorker (titled "Letter From a Region in My Mind" in the magazine) in late 1962, the philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote James Baldwin a letter and said 'this is incredible work, clearly important, but I want to tell you, passion and love have no place in politics.' She's talking about fascism in Europe.

JD: And talk about somebody with some skeletons in the closet, (laughs)

EP: Yeah, right? (laughs) That was the argument. And James Baldwin, of course, went a different route and proved himself again and again. He was ahead of his time.

JD: Well, there's a couple things here, more than a few, that I want to underline in what you've just said. About the political silence, compartmentalized, constrained, segmented within our inner life, and the vehicle of confession as a vehicle of joy, of great risk but of even greater rewards. Part of that political silence that entraps and confines us, I believe, and I'm looking for your thought on this, is part of the market-driven politics of advertising and economic exploitation. James Baldwin knew that through the vehicle of confession and taking that risk and experiencing that joy of what binds us to our body and sharing our body. The desire for affection, gentleness and intimacy also politically freed us from being in the crosshairs of the debilitating forces of advertising and market-driven commodity fetishism. Could you talk to us a little bit about that? It's interesting, an extraordinary act. And yet he doesn't really come out and lay it out in terms as I just did now, because he doesn't have to, because you're feeling it. It's pulsing; it's open; it's kaleidoscopic, and it frees you.

EP: Yes. In the face of a countervailing political discourse that is totally unbelievable and terrible. James Baldwin found that by presenting himself as a full human being, he could achieve an authority that the political world couldn't match. Miraculously, he found that one could achieve such an authority and didn't need huge resources to do it. All you needed [were] the energies that were around you and within you in your own life, and if you are willing to play along those lines and be a little bit honest about it, a little bit in touch with it, you and the people around you can free yourselves, as you said, from manipulation by these caricatures that are looming over you. You look at our contemporary political world, go back 30 years, and come up to the present. If you look at the structure of political campaigns and administration, their rhetoric, it's all absolutely sold to us just like any other commodity, Coca-Cola, whatever it is. They just repeat the same lines over and over again.

JD: Cowboys and Indians.

EP: Yes, we've seen the backdrops behind them where the same phrase repeats 50 times for the camera, so there is that. But also, and just fantastically to me, but also catastrophically, the we, the populace, the citizenry, such as it is, the voters demand the politicians stand before us, as if they [were] caricatures in Victorian novels, bad Victorian novels. They must have one idea; it must be noncontradictory. It's clearly stated; it's unchanging. They have no erotic life. They have to be married. And with the whole Clinton thing, his impeachment and all that stuff, basically, the country said: We won't have a human being in the White House. If we get one sniff of the texture of humanity, of course, what we recognize in our own lives, we will reject you.

JD: You know, you really hit the nail on the head here, and I want to just quickly follow up with something, which I think is so important in deciphering the contemporary scene, about this sort of 19th century rhetoric, and you said "with no erotic life." This negation is in fact libidinally organized. And that libidinal organization, which is not obscurely coming out of the Christian tradition, necessarily, as James Baldwin reminded us in his nonfiction writings and that remarkable interview with Studs Terkel, that this libidinal organization is then projected onto dark-skinned people. The fear and apprehension, that the so-called "White imagination" in its commodification of dark-skinned people everywhere must insist on articulating this in terms of violence, which now we are seeing at catastrophic levels. This tension in American politics is part of why I'm left utterly flummoxed in terms of the Republican candidate for president, because the eligibly informed, so-called "smart people" in the pages of record and so forth, keep casting this carny huckster, snake oil salesman, as if he [were] coming out of some sort of vacuum; when in fact, to get back to the point you made a moment ago, he's deeply contextualized in the history of the world and America.

EP: Yes, absolutely.

JD: So what are some of the dangers that you see in this attraction? What makes the image of this 19th century vaudeville character so persuasive to so many Americans, not all of them White?

EP: It's scary, really, to think about. To think that people could be so afraid of themselves they would insist on electing these false images of themselves is totally preposterous. This is why no one can tolerate any truth, because they think that if the powers that be are speaking in this preposterous way, then it will trickle down to me. This corroborates my life and this fantasy. We talked about the role of conscience and the role of confession and James Baldwin's stance that one can accrue authority in one's life and a power to say what's what.

JD: Tell it like it is.

EP: Right, but if you are unable to do that you are really easily manipulated. And the American right, I hate to call it conservative ...

JD: Yeah, because it's not.

EP: It's not, but the American right has actively cultivated that condition, people who are willing to devote their time to listening to what they've been saying for generations: If we can keep these people afraid of something, and tantalized by something else, play to their worst, then we will be able to predict their behavior and keep manipulating them into supporting our agenda. And what is interesting about Trump is that he came around, and he put a monkey wrench in their program.

JD: He certainly did.

EP: They thought these were people they could create and control, and it got away from them.

JD: Those Don Rickles routines in the debates: when there were all 17 of them, when the Republican clown car was driving around the country. Unbelievable. And dispatched the Bush dynasty like so much toilet paper. That was really something else.

EP: They did.

JD: I'd like to share with our listeners a particular recording of Billie Holiday's work, which you illuminate to tremendous effect, in respect to James Baldwin. [...] I have a recording of Billie Holiday singing "Billies Blues," which you talk [about] quite a bit in relation to James Baldwin. This isn't the particular recording of it that you examine closely, but I think the attitudes expressed in this song will get across to listeners and we can come around and hear your commentary. [Plays Billie Holiday's, "Billies Blues"]

JD: Oh my! Lady Day. Certainly, one of the great storytellers of our time, or any time.

EP: Of all time.

JD: Yeah. With an undeniable sense of reality. Talk about telling it like it is. There [are] very explicit connections between what we just heard, Billie Holiday and James Baldwin, in many different dimensions. Ed, can you share with our listeners some of what you discovered in drawing that picture and mapping that?

EP: Billie Holiday is such an amazing voice and an important artist. People talk about in literary terms how Hemingway changed American writers and what he did for the American literary voice, but I think Billie Holiday is the greatest American lyric writer of the 20th century. And equally as succinct as Hemingway, but not nearly as restrained. Hemingway talked about your voice [as] the tip of the iceberg and you leave the rest underwater in silence. We thought that meant brevity, but Billie Holiday's lyrics are just as brief, but they give you the whole iceberg, half the ocean, the sky above ...

JD: And what's sunken underwater!

EP: I'm telling you. She says it like it is, like it isn't, like it could be, like it might be, like you wish it wasn't, like you wished it could've been. She gives you irony. But this idea that she's singing one line that could say something different to six different people or 600 different people in the audience, that's what she's doing there. A kind of elasticity and utterance, a kind of twisted complexity and grace, and, of course, all with her hand draped off her wrist there on stage, looking like she's half asleep doing it. This is a voice and a person whose presence is so unmatched. You know, we are so far from being able to benefit and travel with her like we should. But James Baldwin, early in his life as a writer, he was on record, on the page, following along closely with her voice. Clearly, he picked up on that sophistication and brilliance embedded in very everyday terms what she was doing. But I think "Billies Blues" is her greatest song. She wrote it herself, whatever that means. It changed over the years, as she did it. She would add verses, and different songs would be combined into it, and it became a kind of ballad or epic of her autobiography, of her life story. In a simple four or five verses she's able to tell her own story, but also a Black woman's story in amazing terms. Powerful, complex terms that resonate with James Baldwin in his work in general ways but also in quite alarmingly specific ways. For example, she says, "I love my man, I'm a liar if I say I don't, but I quit my man, I'm a liar if I say I won't." (laughter) And James Baldwin is famous for the importance he attached to love, the ties that bind people. How important that is, how risky it is, how dangerous it is, and all that business, and he went on and on about it. There is a letter that he wrote to his closest brother, David, late in his life. He was having trouble with some people in his house, and he wrote in this incredible way to his brother. And he's kind of rehearsing the ideas to his brother in the letter and he says and I paraphrase here, 'People are devoted to me, I can't stand it. Devotion has nothing to do with love. Devotion is a mutual conspiracy of self-pities. And love, on the other hand, gives you the power and the clarity to pack your bags.' And Billies got that in that line, 'I love my man, I'm a liar if I say I don't, but I'll get out of here too..

JD: When it comes down to it.

EP: I don't know exactly how to make sense of that situation but none of us do. And that's what makes love the vexing and dangerous place that it is. These are permanent and life-sustaining, and at times life-threatening relationships we have with people. They're non-elective relationships; they are things we didn't exactly choose. They're terms we certainly didn't choose. But in some way too, through encountering people in that intensity again, you accrue an authority in yourself that can put you on your way, when you need to be.

JD: And that's part of Billie Holiday's immense gifts, as an interpreter of popular song, is that she comes to the tradition of Gershwin, of Harold Arlen, of Irving Berlin, but with incredible authority of feeling. Just absolutely astounding, which shatters the pretense if I take your meaning, and also James Baldwin's. Then love is not some ideal state in which life becomes roses and sunshine, it's actually a very dangerous freedom that we all risk in order to find and discover our lives with each other.

EP: That's right. And love is a venue in which people become very dangerous to each other. And love is also a venue where we have some responsibility to that danger. And so, Billie Holiday could come to those American standards or write her own lyrics with great authority because she had authority in experience. She'd been through it, and, really in the end, didn't have anything to hide about it.

JD: Didn't have anything to hide.

EP: Because having these things that one can't accept in oneself, which is the same thing as having things you can't tell other people, that's a very precarious position to be in. And one doesn't always keep track of the web of silence that those things then create. Those things show up jammed in your mouth in ways that won't allow you to speak--in the strangest places.

JD: It's so gratifying to hear you bring that up, because earlier in the conversation you mentioned Hannah Arendt, and in her essay concluding "Origins of Totalitarianism" she describes how before totalitarian state can seize control over a society, it first has to have a society that is emotionally alienated from itself to such a degree that individual human beings no longer feel capable of expressing what their inner lives actually consist of. And then at that stage is when that hyper-nationalist, cowboys vs Indians, natives vs settlers kind of rhetoric can really take hold of a society, because everybody is so alienated from each other at the emotional level, they are scared to talk about what's really happening to them.

EP: They are totally terrified. It's a numbness. In fact, it's a mob. And we have many mobs about us presently.

JD: And here we are. Which is why it is so urgent and necessary, and I implore our listeners today to explore this work. Again, Who Can Afford to Improvise?': James Baldwin and Black Music, The Lyric and the Listeners. Ed Pavlic joining us this afternoon and, of course, with equal urgency, time to pick up James Baldwin once again, who is being heralded in recent months and recent years but in a very curious way. There was something that struck me as really strange and that had to do with Toni Morrison, the brilliant Toni Morrison, making the odd comparison of Coates to James Baldwin. I didn't get that. What was your take on that? I understand that we want James Baldwin, but come on. Coates, Baldwin?? That's more than a stretch.

EP: Yeeeah ...

JD: No offense to Mr. Coates, I'm just saying, where, what is that about?

EP: I think Ta'Nehisi Coates is a great writer, a brilliant writer, a great thinker. His first book, The Beautiful Struggle, I think is a great book. Really fine contemporary autobiographical writing and the next book, Between the World and Me, also quite good. But James Baldwin as an artist, is in a wholly different register and space than that. Not to take anything away from Ta'Nehisi Coates. But obviously, he would agree with all this. I don't know. I think maybe it was Morrison's profound desire to see some of the space left open, filled. And I do think Coates' writing does fill an element of that space somewhere.

JD: But really it's the hunger for James Baldwin.

EP: Yeah, well there is a hunger for James Baldwin, and that is a very healthy thing. And that hasn't always been the case. That wasn't always the case during his career, and it wasn't always the case after his death. But as we said yesterday, as I was saying, it's my personal opinion and my aesthetic artistic judgment that James Baldwin really is one of the permanent American voices, and one of the permanent global voices.

JD: Absolutely, long after many, many civilizations have had their rise and fall, James Baldwin will still continue to rise.

EP: If human culture can sustain itself such that the arts are still around. The species will be gone, if the arts are gone. And none of that is out of the question, of course, but to the extent that we can sustain ourselves as a thinking, and speaking species, James Baldwin's work will move with us. And you with it. To any extent you can.

JD: Well, Ed, it's been such a beautiful hour to spend with you, and you've been so generous, and it's been such an exciting conversation. At some point, we are going to have to pick this up again.

EP: Yes, I'd love to.

JD: Again, I'd like to encourage our listeners to pick up James Baldwin as always. Your book is such a gift to this world. Ed Pavlic thanks again for sharing your time with us.

EP: It was a pleasure. Thanks so much for this.
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Author:Desmangles, Justin
Publication:Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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