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Everybody's Noir Humanism: Chester Himes, Lonely Crusade, and The Quality of Hurt.

Like Chester Himes, James Baldwin helped invent the noir sensibility at midcentury. In 1949, a young Baldwin published "Everybody's Protest Novel," a famous indictment of so-called social protest fiction and its most influential, most monstrous progeny, Richard Wright's Native Son (1940). Critics generally regard this essay as a rejection of the Marxist politics of Wright's naturalism--its "insuperable confusion" of literature and sociology--and an endorsement of psychological complexity in the Jamesian mode (Baldwin 19). Baldwin's verdict? Fewer pamphlets, more novels. But the essay also crafts a surprising noir archive of sentimental politics, one that aligns the "theological terror" of Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and the tragedy of Bigger Thomas with liberal Hollywood's postwar penchant for social problem pictures and the lurid prose of James M. Cain (Baldwin 15). As Baldwin stumps for fiction devoted to the "disquieting complexity" of the human being, he condemns the violence done to humanity by the "spurious emotion" of sentimentality joining far-flung cultural products: "Both Gentleman's Agreement [dir. Elia Kazan, 1947] and The Postman Always Rings Twice [dir. Tay Garnett, 1946] exemplify this terror of the human being, the determination to cut him down to size. And in Uncle Tom's Cabin we find the foreshadowing of both" (Baldwin 15, 14, 16). Unlike properly psychological fiction, Baldwin insists, protest novels are "fantasies, connecting nowhere with reality, sentimental; in exactly the same sense that such movies as The Best Years of Our Lives [dir. William Wyler, 1946] or the works of James M. Cain are fantasies.... The aim has now become to reduce all Americans to the compulsive, bloodless dimensions of a guy named Joe" (20).

In joining the "violent inhumanity" of nineteenth-century novels like Stowe's to that of their hard-boiled descendants like Wright and Cain, and to Hollywood's new glut of anonymous, statistically average Joes, Baldwin anticipates recent critical arguments about the shared sentimental genealogy of the hard-boiled novel and the film noir--the despairing turn towards sociological realism in postwar Hollywood that French film critics discovered on the heels of the Nazi Occupation, and at the dawn of the American Century (14). (1) Noir is of course an infamously fuzzy category, a broad discursive formation that consolidated at midcentury, but stretched long before and after its French invention. Paradoxically, the terms of Baldwin's essay sharpen this point by obscuring the matter even further: in 1949, the fiction of Cain, Stowe, and Wright, and the films of Wyler and Kazan, would be perceived as being part of a widespread, vaguely noir sensibility, extending across media, and defined for Baldwin by a shared inhumanity--a noir humanism.

In this essay, I consider Himes's own "social protest" novel Lonely Crusade (1947) in a broader constellation of noir humanism--a phrase I use to describe a particular convergence of psychologizing tendencies at midcentury. Noir humanism yielded a universalizing, quasi-anthropological picture of the human condition as marked by pervasive emotional insecurity, and in Himes's work more particularly, by the violence of sentimental categorization and the exclusionary political formulas of postwar U. S. democracy. Himes's place in the noir tradition is well established, secured by the French publication of his "Harlem Domestic" cycle in Gallimard's legendary Serie noire, and critically cemented by many superb recent critical studies. (2) Less well understood is the role of Lonely Crusade in Himes's noir vision as it crystallized in the postwar period. Often described as Himes's most accomplished or complex novel, a damning kind of praise that has probably helped consign the book to critical oblivion, Lonely Crusade is a messy book, ideologically speaking. Himes put it more bluntly in The Quality of Hurt: "Everyone hated it.... The left hated it, the right hated it, Jews hated it, blacks hated it" (221). (3) Or better, it was hated differently by different groups. Its fundamentally antagonistic affect gave the lie to postwar democratic consensus from the beginning, and put Himes on the path of expatriation by setting his unsettled feelings in the noir key of exile. (4) New Masses, for example, called it "racist poison," tailor-made for the "Book of the Month Club," to be "buried deep beneath a rising mountain of protest, boycott, and condemnation" (Brown 20, 19, 20). The Atlantic Monthly noted that "for all its hard realism and able writing, it reads like a melodrama," its story suffering "a form of elephantiasis" (Christowe 138). The New Yorker described its tragedy as "a psychological one," penned by an author "who seems to think that an ugly narrative is necessarily a powerful one" (120), and Ebony even hazarded a diagnosis: "Gordon--and his creator Himes--are infected with a psychosis that distorts their thinking and influences their every action in life" (44).

Unruly in 1947, Lonely Crusade has been domesticated over time as protest fiction in the mode of "social realism." The rubric implies a kind of hard-boiled stoicism, epistemological clarity, and ideological dogmatism that helps critics throw into relief the late, more modernist Himes of the Serie noire novels, which are rife with grotesque comedy, absurdity, and strategic irrationality. But these hallmarks of Himes's late style are also present in Lonely Crusade, and as Baldwin reminds us, social protest fiction is itself a loose amalgam of the dehumanizing qualities of fictional feeling--affective strategies that blur melodramatic sentiment and ironic cruelty, and make strange bedfellows of the likes of Stowe, Cain, and Kafka. Part of what made the novel so universally disliked upon its release was this fitful, even grotesque psychologizing whose implications are absent from the social realist tag that persists today. Lonely Crusade is thus a particularly useful text for considering the promises and failures of democratic humanism at midcentury. The noir vision of the novel, and the novel's own modernity, are unthinkable without its emotional ugliness and excess. (5) These excesses were read differently by Himes's contemporaries--as hallmarks of melodrama and lurid middlebrow pandering, or incipient signs of authorial psychosis or counterrevolutionary despair. In what follows, I present an alternate historical horizon upon which the novel's many failures of feeling and form appear as forms of unexpurgated democratic passion.

Midcentury Psychology and the Invention of Noir Humanism

As of an example of Lonely Crusade's climate of reception, there is Milton Klonsky's 1948 review "The Writing on the Wall" in Commentary, and Himes's response. Klonsky describes the book as part of the "terminal moraine of socially conscious novels, comic strips, movies, pulp fiction, etc. left behind by the Popular Front icecap of the '30s" (189). For Klonsky, this glacial relic of leftist cultural politics, evident across a range of popular media "has, for better or for worse, permanently changed the American cultural landscape" (189). Most objectionable about novels like Lonely Crusade, for Klonsky, is their crass sensationalism--the way they so "frankly [present] for mass entertainment as well as profit" the "ugly," "obscene" aspects of racial prejudice that once "had to be discussed in whispers like a dirty joke" (189). With bitter irony, Klonsky compares the novel's crude traffic in ugly feelings to the "gradual influx of social consciousness" apparent in wartime bathroom graffiti, which took the perverse form of "lewd threats of violence against the--Jews and, to a lesser extent as the threats were more fully carried out, against the Negroes." If wartime barracks, bars, and shipyards became "chambers of catharsis" in which "the underground from time to time relieved itself of the social and political pieties of war propaganda and posted its own bulletins," then by Klonsky's logic, "a camera reflection of this phenomenon appeared in the official world of movies, radio, and publishing--but, of course, inverted to respectability: Don't kill the Jews (or the Negroes)" (189).

The problem for Klonsky is not the pervasive theme of "racial intolerance," but its "cheap exploitation" by "the Hollywood monopoly and big-business publishing," enterprises which purport to solve racial and religious bigotry by selling books and movie tickets rather than raising "the living standards of the people, economically or culturally." Decrying the pulpy technique of Lonely Crusade as "cut out of the same sub-literary 'popular' cheesecloth" as melodramatic "sex fantasies," likewise "sweated out with some steamy episodes of copulation between white women and black men" (189-90), Klonsky sees Himes's style as fatally compromised by a "debased" mass culture:
 Which leads us to an overwhelming question--what real difference is
 there between the style of this book written by a Negro and the
 style of the very American mob culture which humiliates and
 degrades its people? Lonely Crusade
 breathes the same suffocating
 air as the ads, the radio, the movies, the pulps. Although the
 author is himself a Negro, his book is so deracinated, without any
 of the lively qualifies of the imagination peculiar to his people,
 that it might easily have been composed by a clever college girl.

Following such overheated rhetoric, Himes's response, published as an "Author's Protest" in the follow-up issue, is measured by comparison, even clinical. Picking up on Klonsky's emotional idiom, Himes describes his reviewer's comments as more "hate catharsis than ... literary criticism." "Reactions as expressed in Mr. Klonsky's comments," Himes explains, "come only from subconscious disturbances within the individual. Lonely Crusade has touched upon such a disturbance in Mr. Klonsky's personality to bring forth this geyser of vituperation. And that is as it should be; a catharsis of our prejudices off times effects the cure." Himes explains that his purpose in writing Lonely Crusade was "to create a novel out of the theme of one man, a Negro, searching for manhood.... This story could have been written about a Jew, a Gentile, a Chinese, an Indian. It was written about a Negro." The story of Lee Gordon, Himes insists, is representative, exemplary of "the destruction of the human personality by oppression," and thus applicable across boundaries of race ("Author" 474). The affective welter that follows is not manipulative sensationalism, but an exercise in human psychology, and its social deformation:
 As a Negro, my protagonist, Lee Gordon, is the victim of
 oppression. The impacts of this oppression generate within him many
 self-destructive forces--fear, insecurity, antiSemitism, color
 psychosis, etc.; in his search for manhood these forces comprise
 psychological barriers which he must overcome. The fact that he is
 able to, and does in fact overcome these barriers, should have an
 inspirational value to all who are oppressed. ("Author"

Klonsky's review of Lonely Crusade, however frothy and anxious, reminds us of the close ties between American mass culture and a residual Popular Front aesthetic in the immediate postwar period that would give a French name to the noir sensibility. Indeed, the lurid sensationalism of popular style, for Klonsky synonymous with the leveling excesses of "mob culture," also fueled noir's vital pulp politics. As Paula Rabinowitz has recently argued, noir is less an ontologically stable group of cynical American thrillers than a transgeneric popular sensibility--a "political theory of America's problematic democracy disguised as cheap melodrama, with origins in two submerged aspects of American modernity: the contradiction of slaveholding in a democracy and the suppression of working-class organizing. Violence is at the core of both of these strands" (Rabinowitz 18). Of course, the brutal intersection of racism and class politics in wartime Los Angeles lies at the heart of Lonely Crusade's psychological malaise. But for Klonsky, Himes's style, rather than laying bare the ugly riot of democratic passions, deracinates his critique, robbing it of the very hallmarks of psychological distinction ("the lively qualities of the imagination") typical of his race. Himes's response, by contrast, seems to prove that in 1948, you cannot not psychologize. By his lights, Klonsky's critical bile is a common enough form of "hate catharsis" and "subconscious disturbance," typical in much the way Lee Gordon's psychological distress is symptomatic of broader, structural forces wreaking havoc upon the human personality. In their own ways, then, Klonsky and Himes each read the affective inhumanity of Lonely Crusade through the psychological optic of noir humanism: for Klonsky, the book is insufficiently human because its pulpy sensationalism has uprooted its racial identity; for Himes, the book is strategically inhuman because facial oppression dehumanizes. For both, this inhumanity is inseparable from the trials of postwar democracy.

This larger problem, in fact, is at the heart of the Commentary issue in which Klonsky's review appears, a quite remarkable archive of midcentury thought about the challenges to democracy taken up in Lonely Crusade. In that issue can be found Hannah Arendt's remarks on the Jewish site, later published in Origins of Totalitarianism (1951); the first English translation of Sartre's 1946 reflection on the Jewish question; Commentary editor Elliot Cohen on Hollywood's treatment of anti-Semitism, Gentleman's Agreement; James Baldwin's well-known "The Harlem Ghetto: Winter 1948," which considers the challenge of urban poverty to American ideals of freedom and equality and probes "Negro-Jewish relations"; and philosopher Sidney Hook's "Why Democracy is Better," a liberal paean to the democratic values joining the U. S. and the U. N. Most interesting for my purpose, however, is exiled German-Jewish film critic Siegfried Kracauer's "Psychiatry for Everything and Everybody: The Present Vogue--and What Is Behind It," a thoughtful discussion of America's new postwar psychologism, and a fine example of noir humanism. The essay seeks to explain "the average American's infatuation with psychological procedures," a vogue most apparent in Hollywood's trendy penchant for "mental derangements," or the aimless ex-soldiers of Crossfire (dir. Edward Dmytryk, 1947) and The Long Night (dir. Anatole Litvak, 1947), or the psychiatric "miracle workers" who minister to America's newly neurotic populace in films like Spellbound (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1943) or The Dark Mirror (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1946) ("Psychiatry" 222).

Just as Himes places the ailing Klonsky on the couch alongside his own distressed protagonist Lee Gordon, Kracauer also identifies a symptomatic pattern of "emotional disturbances" across American society. Again like Himes, whose Popular Front credentials led him consistently to opt for socioeconomic explanations for racial injustice, the Marxist Kracauer insists that "society is at the bottom of many psychological maladjustments," even though Hollywood--like American culture at large--tends to disavow environmental causes, acting instead on "the reverse principle that society is sick because we ourselves are sick." For Kracauer, however, this widespread turn from the social to the psychological is symptomatic of a "steady decrease in emotional security"--a "widespread malaise" caused by a perceived disappearance of common, previously unquestioned, American values and myths. In Kracauer's psycho-hydraulic model of national well-being, any nation's "network of rules, codes, mores, and patterns" allows its citizens to "discharge their latent instinctive energies and faculties," providing cathartic outlets for feeling in "socially recognized patterns for emotional exchange" (225-26). But in postwar America, characterized by "torturing uncertainty" about common values, a lock of shared behavior patterns, and an instrumental system of industrial capitalism that perverts human desires "into means to economic ends," authentic, communal emotional life is reified in "ultra-personal subjectivity" ("Psychiatry" 225, 226, 227). In sum, postwar America psychologizes because it is nostalgic for "making the deeper layers of the human being really communicable" (228). The postwar surfeit of bad interiority compensates for the absence of a "universal framework" for private life: a "sphere of conventions to which all human beings are expected to conform," and that is evident in the denser "texture of behavior patterns" woven into the fiber of national character of older nations like France (227).

Kracauer's "Psychiatry for Everyone" essay was no one-off, but rather part of a series of companion pieces on the psychological turn of postwar Hollywood, including "Hollywood's Terror Films: Do They Reflect an American State of Mind?" published in Commentary in 1946, and "Those Movies with a Message," which appeared in Harper's in June of 1948. (6) These essays, which read the plots of mass culture as psycho-allegories of the status of democratic national character, would inform his own landmark study of German cinema, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the German Film (1947), but they also constitute a crucial chapter m the discursive formation of the noir sensibility at midcentury, and clarify Lonely Crusade's place in it. Specifically, they help to establish the terms of Himes's departure from a constellation of midcentury tendencies that helped to invent noir psychology as a universal malady of the human condition. As Richard Maltby explains, the wartime period was marked by a new merger of psychoanalysis and cultural anthropology. (7) This style of thinking about national character and "ways of life" suited (or not) for democracy sought to challenge the specious biologism of German racial science with the kind of "psychoculturalism" pioneered by anthropologist Margaret Mead, which emphasized the plastic force of culture rather than race on the shaping of a people. Central to Mead's project was "a wartime rhetoric of liberal internationalism" inspired by Wendell Wilkie's "One World" ideal; her symptomatic liberal belief in the promise of war as an opportunity for national and global unity was even echoed in internal memos of the OWI: "By making this a people's war for freedom, we can help clear up the alien problem, the negro problem, the anti-Semitic problem" (qtd. in Maltby 44).

The pervasive psychic maladjustment of Hollywood film noir, by contrast, was understood by Kracauer and number of postwar critics to belie the jargon of wartime unity. More perversely, the film noir realized a different kind of universalism in a widespread escape from politics--a psychologizing of the horrors of the first half of the twentieth century as "primitive" states of terror and fear endemic to the postwar anthropos. The convergence of wartime interest in anthropology and psychology produced the full popular flowering of what Michael Leja has dubbed "modern man" discourse in midcentury America. Magazines, newspapers, and a wide swath of popular literature and film, borrowing the academic insights of psychoculturalism, constructed a potent fiction of the human condition that posited a continuity between "modern" and "primitive" man--twinned victims of a dark, irrational mind, alike prey to primordial terror. These atavistic traits of "modern" life would, for the popularizers of modern-man discourse, be confirmed by the nature of fascism, the reality of atomic devastation, and the horrors of the camps. For Leja, this primitivist discourse--which joined popular psychology, the theory and practice of abstract expressionism in art; and the Hollywood film noir--worked to naturalize the ideology of bourgeois liberalism. By locating the historical terrors of the twentieth century in the primitive mental recesses of individuals, modern-man discourse effectively depoliticized inhuman acts of violence and war, and dehistoricized fascism by psychologizing it. Like New York School painting, the dark psychology of the Hollywood film noir posited "the complex white male individual and his cosmic situation as the proper focus for analysis and explanation of contemporary existence. What consolation they offered lay in the universality of the situation and the majestic power of the forces victimizing man. Both saw the situation as outside of history and as facing the individual alone" (Leja 111). By thus universalizing and dignifying terror as the province of modern white men, noir humanism displaced the guilt of its protagonists onto "the most readily available scapegoats--fate, women, or the other within" (112).

While Kracauer anticipated Leja's argument that noir humanism buttressed midcentury liberalism, he nonetheless saw in noir's climate of overweening fear the seeds of indigenous fascism, and the troubled state of a democracy foundering on its failed promise of wartime universalism, itself so cruelly belied by the realities of race. In the "Terror Films" essay, for example, Kracauer observed in pictures like The Lost Weekend (dir. Billy Wilder, 1945), Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1943), and The Spiral Staircase (Siodmak, 1945) Hollywood's new penchant for films "saturated with terror," "sadism," "and "psychological aberrations," which spoke to the transfer to the American scene of horrors "formerly attributed only to life under Hitler" (Kracauer, "Hollywood" 105, 109, 110). In these films' sadistic energies, Kracauer discerned roiling in American hearts an "emotional preparedness for fascism." The signal emotion of these films is an "all-pervasive fear that threatens the psychic integrity of the average person" (107). "Hatred of minorities," Kracauer explains, "feeds on the fears of the majority, and unless these fears subside the hatred will continue to multiply" (111). The fear so evident in these films, Kracauer insists, is the result of a particularly American dilemma--apprehension towards "the totalitarian potentialities of any sort of planned economy" on the one hand, and on the other, a sense of general dissatisfaction with American democracy's own failures along lines of class:
 Democracy, with its individual freedom, seems economically out of
 joint, so that it must resort to makeshifts and breed nightmarish
 dreams of fascist pseudosolutions, worse than the ills they are
 intended to cure. Shall we be able to preserve individual freedom
 under collectivism? ... A civil war is being fought inside every
 soul; and the movies reflect the general uncertainties of that war
 in the form of a general inner disintegration and mental
 disturbance. ("Hollywood" 111) 

In "Those Movies With a Message," Kracauer turned his attention from the role of fear in America's potential for domestic fascism and toward the broader climate of apathy evident in Hollywood's putatively progressive, "quasiliberal" films like Boomerang! (Kazan, 1947), Crossfire, Gentleman's Agreement, and The Best Years of Our Lives--films that "confronted the hopes of the war years with the reality of the postwar" ("Those Movies" 568). As for Baldwin, so also for Kracauer are the films' characters poor excuses for fully human beings. While the pictures pay lip service to the "liberal gospel," they feature characters with "little confidence in reason"--"visionless" or "emasculated" characters who talk rather than act, "gripped by a paralysis of energies" (570-71). "In sum, out postwar films present a common man reluctant to heed the voice of reason and a liberal spokesman unable to run the emotional blockade around him" (571). This pervasive emotional blockage produces a kind of "ideological fatigue"--a weariness that helps to fuel the psychiatric vogue that emphasizes "psychological relations rather than social meanings." As in the "Psychiatry for Everyone" essay, here too Kracauer stresses the threat of suspended feelings, of inner life sundered from its proper outlets in the terrain of shared human values, beliefs, and ideologies, and readying itself for what Himes might call hate catharsis: "it predisposes the individual to being manipulated by anyone who, at a crucial moment, may detonate his pent-up emotions and divert them to a scapegoat." Thus, if Hollywood were really interested in the "major" problems of the postwar period, it would be forced to confront the challenge to cheerleaders of liberal democracy posed by facial injustice and fascism at home: "The filmmakers have congratulated themselves for their courage in discussing the problem of the Jew, but they have not shown any greater interest in the problem of the Negro" (572).

Himes at War and the Peoples of the World

Kracauer's anatomy of midcentury psychology--its penchant for latent fascism, fear, and violent scapegoating, its suspicions about the promises of liberal democracy, its anxious humanism, its "ideology fatigue," and its widespread emotional blockage--dovetails well with the despairing psychological turn in Himes's own wartime vision, which culminates in Lonely Crusade. Himes of course had firsthand experience with Hollywood's race problem. Having enjoyed success as a short-story writer for Esquire, Himes left Ohio for California at the start of the war to begin work as a screenwriter. Angered by the racist attitudes of the other writers, he "was promptly fired from a trial job at Warner Brothers when Jack Warner heard about him and said, 'I don't want no niggers on this lot'" (Milken 56). Forced to take a series of jobs as an unskilled laborer in L. A.'s booming defense economy, Himes penned a number of short stories, many concerned with black soldiers' experiences of wartime racism, and published an arresting series of essays reflecting on the democratic promise of World War II and its larger meaning for ongoing struggles for facial justice in America and around the world.

These essays, particularly "Now is the Time! Here is the Placet" (1942), "Zoot Riots are Race Riots" (1943), "If You're Scared, Go Home!," and "Negro Martrys Are Needed" (both 1944), exemplify the war's intensification of racial, national, and international consciousness among blacks in the U. S. Stirred by the promise of America's wartime rhetoric of global freedoms as set forth in "The Atlantic Charter" (1941), "The Four Freedoms" (1942), and elsewhere, African American intellectuals and activists sensed that the U. S. rationale for war had, in Nikhil Pal Singh's words, "upped the ante of the promise of American universalism," for "if New Deal economic reforms helped make the status of blacks an economic concern, WWII elevated U. S. racial division to a question of national security, international relations, and global justice" (Singh 104, 103). Like many on the Popular Front and members of the African American left, Himes grew dissatisfied with the CPUSA's downplaying of facial and colonial oppression following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Soviets' conversion to the Allied cause. Dismayed by the Communist Party's insufficient radicalism and lingering tendency to sentimentalize and stereotype African American life, ignoring in the process the reality of black modernity and the passionate calls for black self-determination around the globe, intellectuals like Himes, Wright, Ellison, and Hughes sought to articulate a communal notion of freedom that "ultimately exceeded the abstract, programmatic concepts and slogans of the organized left" (119). This political positioning, as Singh explains, required a delicate balancing act: a middle ground that required neither disaffiliation with the nation nor uncritical jingoism, that could be critical of Allied imperialism and still defend the principles of U. S. democratic life, and that might "clear the way to be revolutionary and anti-Stalinist," as C. L. R. James said of Richard Wright (qtd. in Singh 128).

At the core of this intellectual position was an acute awareness of the gap between the promise of American universalism its claim to exceptional moral standing in the world--and the brutal realities of racism, both domestically and in the practices of colonialism that Allied nations continued to engage in around the world. To attack this democratic disjuncture, black intellectuals pursued the so-called "Double Victory" (Double V) strategy, demanding a simultaneous struggle against international fascism and imperialism, and domestic racism, all faces of the same global problem. For example, in "Now is the Time! Here is the Place!" published in the NAACP's Opportunity magazine in September 1942, Himes called for the opening of "a second front for freedom at home" (215). Assailing the "abstract logic" of the United Nations, whose right for freedom was a right primarily for the "status quo" in which the "the Negro American will be the loser," Himes asked, "But to us Negro Americans, is not victory abroad without victory at home a sham, empty, and with no meaning, leaving us no more free than before?" ("Now" 214-15). Himes demanded that the U. N. make good on its promise that "the very soul of this right is for the freedom of all the peoples of the world" (214). The status of U. S. blacks, Himes asserted, was "the vital, imperative question that must be answered to all minority groups, all subject races, the world over" (214-15). And in the "greater war, the world-wide fight for freedom of all the peoples of the world," Negro Americans, Himes insists, "will be a small part of a great force; we will be with others and we will learn of the peoples' will, the great spiritual power of peoples united in a single cause" (216).

In making these connections between U. S. blacks and "the peoples of the world," Himes's New Deal populism blossomed in these essays into what Singh has called the "new sense of black worldiness" amongst African American intellectuals during the war, the conviction that "the imperative to include blacks within the nation was increasingly linked to the struggle to imagine the world-system and the future U. S. role within it" (Singh 103). In his reflections on wartime racial violence, Himes again drew analogies between the situations of colored peoples and hierarchies of racial subjugation worldwide. In "Zoot Riots are Race Riots," for example, Himes decried the brutality of American servicemen against young Mexican-Americans as acts of white supremacy--the soldiers are at once "storm troopers" and "a continuation" of the Klansmen, part of the United States' own "nazi-minded citizenry" who beat "darker-skinned" peoples like the pachucho zoot-suiters for the same reason that "it seems always to give a white man a wonderful feeling when he whips a Jap" (220, 222). Even black shipyard worker Bob Jones, the protagonist of If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945), betrays a dawning worldliness in his objection to the internment of Japanese Americans that, as Alan Wald reminds us, was "whole-heartedly defended by the Communist Party" (70): "I was the same color as the Japanese and I couldn't tell the difference. 'A yeller-bellied Jap' coulda meant me, too" (If He Hollers 4).

As exercises in democratic thought, Himes's wartime essays often assume the formal urgency of the manifesto; they are marked by the genre's hortatory, uncompromising tone, and always circumscribed within the tradition of Enlightenment universalism that gave birth to the form. In "If You're Scared, Go Home!" Himes describes "the ideology of democracy" as analogous to a "form of mathematics based on the certain tables of addition, multiplication, and subtraction" ("If You're Scared" 227). The ideology only works if its foundational premise--"that all people are created equal"--is preserved inviolate; "the only problem" is whether people "are willing to accept the ideology of democracy based on equality" (228). Hewing to this line, in "Negro Martyrs Are Needed," Himes makes clear that his version of revolution is not aimed to bring about a dictatorship of the proletariat; rather, "There can be only one (I repeat: only one) aim of a revolution by Negro Americans. That is the enforcement of the Constitution of the United States" ("Negro Martyrs" 231). In light of such proclamations, Sean McCann, one of Himes's most insightful critics, has argued that such sentiments be read as Himes's unwavering commitment to the "principles of liberal democracy" (McCann 269), here recast by a Manichean moralism that defines revolution as "a transformation of the individual and national conscience--a moral re-creation, via shared emotion, of 'the manifest will of the people'" (270). Rather than see Himes as a mainstream liberal after all, one whose ostensible wartime radicalism was undercut by the very strength of his recourse to American universals and to the formal, nationalistic structures of constitutional democracy, Singh has persuasively underscored how black thinkers like Himes were not so much cheerleading nationalist universalism as reinflecting it "with the symbolic power of their own struggles" (Singh 124).

Indeed, Himes clings so tightly, so hyperbolically, to the formal promises of constitutional democracy that they become excessive, flouting liberal pieties. Democracy, Himes insists, has nothing to do with the success of Jackie Robinson, with "Negro accomplishment," with "how Negroes act, how they look, or what they think" ("If You're Scared" 228); or with "social acceptance" by whites--"by week-ending with our white friends and drinking their liquor or flirting with their wives" ("Negro Martyrs" 234). And democracy has nothing to do with "tolerance," which is "not a noisy virtue" ("If You're Scared" 229). Instead, democracy is only a kind of radical equality that has never actually existed, and that, when demanded, as in the Double-V strategy, reveals itself as foundationally unruly and paradoxical: "And yet, in this peculiar paradox which finds this nation of Negro Americans within this great nation of the United States of America forced into a fight for freedom at home so as to give meaning to its participation in the right of the United Nations for the freedom of all the world, there are those who would say that this is disunity, subversive. Then freedom is itself subversive, and democracy disunity" (Himes, "Now" 217). No static formalism, democracy is instead figured as an unstable series of evolving demands in a broader system of struggle. All is contingent. Himes mourns the painful shortcomings in "this present structure of American Democracy" ("Now" 219); connects past and present demands for justice evident internationally, "in the tactics devised by the peoples of the world who wanted freedom" ("If You're Scared" 230); and imagines democratic futurity erupting in "pivots of change" ("Negro Martyrs" 231), a recurring phrase in the essays, and one that returns in Lonely Crusade. In these ways, the wartime essays articulate a vision of democracy in keeping with the broader lesson of black political thought at midcentury: "namely, that the demand for democracy was both irreducible and unpredictable, in 'excess' of the deterministic designs and schemas that captivated Marxists and modernizing liberals alike" (Singh 128). Against the urgency of this kind of propulsive democratic excess, the noir tragedy of Lonely Crusade unfolds.

Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles

In nearly every way imaginable, Lonely Crusade serves as a rhetorical inversion of Himes's wartime writings, shaped as they were by the utopianism of the manifesto genre and buoyed by Himes's lingering Popular Front optimism. Born with the Enlightenment ideal of a universal political subject, the manifesto's force lay in its capacity to critique modernity's broken promises and its excluded subjects of history, and rhetorically to call into being a better, common world that did not yet exist. In Himes's novel, however, the performative rupture of the manifesto--its status as a formal catapault into a more democratic future is foreclosed by wartime L.A.'s counter-Enlightenment climate of despair and fear, and the regressive acts of violence committed in the name of progress, Party, or patriotism. As Singh notes, "[F]or black publics long attuned to the fissures between the universalism of U.S. political and judicial rhetoric and the exclusionary practices of [America's] institutions ... the struggle to align the practices of everyday life with American universals was haunted by the constant threat of disillusionment" (114). This threat all but consumes Himes's second novel, where the steely-eyed rationality and certain demands of Himes's wartime writings disappear, long-winded debates trail off into obscurity, and bad feelings boil and stew with no clear purpose. Instead, Himes presents his characters' emotions and ideas as tumultuous and contested mental events, embedded in the fraught texture of everyday life, and always uncertain of their provenance and final ends. In the process, democratic aspirations are deformalized and deformed, revealed as being less about the abstract beauty of higher mathemathics than the political chaos that plays out in the world of lived, sensible experience. While the novel ends in what appears to be an act of conviction and commitment Lee Gordon's climactic rushing of the line of union-busting cops assembled at the factory gates--it is an act of will compromised by uncertainty. In other words, like many films noir, Lonely Crusade's last hopeful note rings false, and hardly mitigates the pessimism that envelops the work as a whole.

Himes's achievement in Lonely Crusade lies in the way he recasts and particularizes the kinds of psychological malaise that were then being universalized as part of a noir sensibility, making them acute registers of midcentury democratic passion: both Himes's overwhelming feelings for democracy, which are submitted to considerable scrutiny in the book, and their trial--their suffering and death. The novel is emphatically not about overcoming "emotional barricades," to borrow Kracauer's language, but is concerned rather with the dead-end of democratic faith in feelings of fear and anxiety that can't be cathartically purged, or connected to something more profoundly human without irony or skepticism. As will be seen, the intensity of this passion and its modernism depend on such failures of catharsis--on the way Himes begins to privilege in Lonely Crusade the "muddle of unchannelized unqualified emotions" with no clear destination, and thus critiques the kinds of instrumental politics that would domesticate feeling by giving it a more certain name, telos, or object.

The novel's politics begin with the press of everyday fear. The book's first chapter sketches the kinds of fitful affective upheavals to which Lee Gordon is subject the more he scrutinizes the texture of his own emotional life. Lee too is unable to avoid psychologizing. Thus do the good feelings of the novel's first line ("Lee Gordon was the happiest man in the world that afternoon"), which mark his pride in being recently hired as a labor organizer at the Comstock Aircraft Corporation, quickly derail toward various forms of quotidian terror, leaving him at chapter's end surprised by the "senseless" creation "of all this fear now just because of one, small, insignificant job.... He would think of something to refute this fear, then relax, and go to sleep, he decided. Tomorrow he would have forgotten it. But he could think of nothing that could make him unafraid" (Lonely Crusade 3, 10). Himes's conditional tense, which projects the future end of fear, returns inevitably to the crushing terror of the present, and highlights the way fear which classically functions through the purgative temporality of suddenness--works in the novel as durational passion, a condition of ongoingness to which Lee's thoughts continually subject him, and which brings that passion closer to paranoia, an exemplary noir feeling. (8) For Lee, fear's suddenness is always wrapped within a horizon of familiar emotional assaults that make routine the feeling, extending it long into the past and projecting it far into the future:
 For now, the very thing that had most inspired [his happiness]
 brought a sudden fear. The elation at having secured this job was
 now replaced by the frightening realization that he,
 a Negro, was holding it--that he had once again crossed into the
 competitive white world where we would be subjected to every abuse
 concocted in the minds of white people to harass and intimidate
 Negroes. He was afraid, as much of the fact that he would go and
 subject himself to this, as of what would happen to him once he had
 become subjected. Now suddenly he hated this urge in him that
 always sent him sowing in the fields where the harvest was nothing
 but hurt. Yet he would go, he knew. And be afraid, and hate his
 fear, and hate himself for feeling it. (Lonely Crusade

For Lee, the price of fear's routine is not just the dehumanizing cycle of masochisric self-abuse and self-loathing, but the grotesque sadism that fear instills in his relationship to his wife Ruth, corrupting the domestic sphere. Lee's self-consciousness of fear, which "reduced him to sterility as if castrated by it," turns him mechanically to sex as "an effort to find passion," and when none is found, to physical violence against Ruth--not so much his wife as "the vessel of his impotency, into whom he must release his slow, numbing sense of panic" (7, 9). Such, are the wages of an emotion, Himes insists, that "came unbidden to him and that he had no power to expel" (6), as if "he always lived on the border line of his own restraint" (10).

Recall that for Kracaeur and Leja, it was the banality of fear in midcentury works of a broadly noir sensibility that depoliticized the emotion, universalizing it as the province of white masculinity in a post-atomic world. Thus was fear denuded as a social condition, a particular fact of political life, or a psychological product of a broader legacy of historical violence. Lee, however, considers his fear in part as a result of "having read too many newspapers, magazines, and books, and having studied his American history too well.... Every time he read of a white mob lynching a Negro in Mississippi, he felt as if they lynched Lee Gordon too" (Lonely Crusade 10). In fact, the midcentury also witnessed acutely sociological and environmental accounts of fear, accounts that took the trenchant psychological dynamics of African American novels by Wright and Himes as forms of social-scientific evidence. Horace Cayton, trained in Chicago School sociology and coauthor of the landmark study of Chicago's South Side, Black Metropolis (1945), published "A Psychological Approach to Race Relations" in 1946. This essay attempts to explain how fear, "upon which the entire system of social control in the South" is based, and as consolidated through lynchings across space and time, so deeply "molds the personalities" of black inhabitants of Northern cities who may never have experienced firsthand the facial terror of the South (Cayton 9, 8). As an answer, he posits an "oppression psychosis" in which the adult Negro exists "either consciously or unconsciously in a state of tension," fundamentally at "war with his environment" and subject to a "fear-hate-fear-complex" (Cayton 16). In this, the harvest of physical and psychological violence is fear, and then hatred of his oppressors, and then fear that stems from the threat of imminent punishment for his own justified hatred: "It is this vicious cycle in which the American negro is caught and in which his personality is pulverized by and ever mounting, self-propelling rocket of emotional conflict" (Cayton 16). Large paragraphs of If He Hollers, Black Boy, and Native Son are adduced as examples of these dynamics, the "subtle feelings" of which are nearly "impossible to communicate, but perhaps best approximated in psychologized fictions" (Cayton 15).

One person's emotional subtlety, Himes would learn, is another's "'liberal' caricature" (Brown 18). Such was Lloyd L. Brown's nasty take on Lonely Crusade's fearful emotional texture in the communist New Masses. "So hard does [Himes] ride this emotion that he runs out of new ways to describe his protagonist's torment," and offers but an "ultra-modern version of the ancient myth of the Scared Negro" (Brown 18). For Brown, the way Himes's hero "twists and turns in fear from page four of the first chapter to page 383 in the last chapter" is a sign of the political "phenomenon of renegacy," and an example of "the white flag under which [Himes] boldly marches backward in Lonely Crusade" (18). Moreover, Cayton, whose "fear-hate-fear" thesis is cited derisively by Brown, is characterized as "one of the most energetic apostles of the Myrdal-Wright doctrine," and Lonely Crusade the "full-flowering of the Myrdal-Wright thesis on the Negro question" (18). It is a brutal hyphen that connects "the Myrdal-Wright" thesis. With it, Brown casts Himesian fear as an inescapably liberal feeling, a judgment informed the Communist Party's new assessment of Wright as a political apostate, and Bigger Thomas as a failed revolutionary. With Wright and Bigger, Himes and Lee Gordon get lumped together with Gunnar Myrdal, author of the seminal An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy (1944). In Brown's view, Myrdal's liberal emphasis on facial reform in the U. S. as a "teleological certainty" was an "anti-materialist distortion" supplemented by an enervating suggestion that Lee and Bigger represent "the basic character of the Negro people in America." (9) When hope is radical and fear a species of political regression, Lee and Bigger can't help but be poor models of revolutionary psychology.

At stake in Cayton's and Brown's dissenting opinions on the politics of fear in Lonely Crusade is, finally, the question of what kind of a human being Himes allows Lee to be, and how his fear enables or frustrates properly "human" capacities. Himes's strategy is not to give this question the answer desired by either Cayton or Brown--that Lee's is an textbook case of "oppression psychosis" or a sad model of counterrevolutionary despair--but only to stage and restage the question, unsettling in the process the emotional protocols that make him psychologically typical, and thus qualify or disqualify his humanity. Himes's novel attends to the myriad ways in which affect and sensation--as the raw matter of Lee's mental life don't so much evade identity as produce it in discursive regimes of humanization; the novelty of Lee's early euphoria, for example, gives way to so many familiar psychological patterns of being afraid, a discursive saturation of templates for human feeling that seem to follow from Lee's "knowing too much" history (10). Also telling is his acute sensitivity to the matter of expressive quality itself. Lee is a connoisseur of the properties and aspects of the human voice: when he makes his first visit to the union meeting, the narrator notes how the "quips, curses, and questions" that accompany the entrance of the white labor organizer Smitty shift perceptibly when Lee himself enters: "But now the voices had a different sound. There was a quality in the difference that Lee could always hear" (18). When Lee is first greeted by Abe "Rosie" Rosenberg, sonority is a form of facial coding: "The words reached out and stopped Lee.... Hearing the delayed cadence ending on a question mark, he thought, 'Jew'" (150).

Here and elsewhere, the material grain of human expressivity in this novel is rarely free of quality and identification, but rather intensely particularized, betraying identity and intention. In Lonely Crusade the conditions of aurality are part of the dense, sensory fabric of democratic impossibility in postwar America. Politics, Himes knows, is a matter of what Jacques Ranciere calls the "distribution of the sensible"--the parcelings of speech and noise, the sayable and the unsayable, the visible and the invisible, that delimits any given political configuration. (10) At times, aurality is a sensory mode in which feelings and intentions are qualified, and humans differentiated in kind; in others, Himes links the quality of voices, especially women's voices, to a more general human condition. During his first night with Jackie Forks, the white Communist who will later be "lynched" in a minor party purge, Lee notes that her voice was "as startling as if the night had spoken.... And as human as a woman's. It was the human quality in her voice that let him down again" (103). Here and elsewhere, Himes's tendency to code emotional well-being as feminine seems quintessentially sentimental--the private bedrock against which the inhuman depredations to Lee's manhood in the public world of L.A.'s wartime economy are felt more acutely, and all the more resented. However, the novel rather insistently underscores the very failure of sentimental ideology, especially in the chapters devoted to Ruth's own domestic dissatisfaction, and so dismisses sentimentalism as one of a foreclosed series of humanist ideologies in the novel. Human quality disappoints because it emerges just when Lee, drunk and on the make, has converted Jackie into an ideal "a picture of remote loveliness, something ethereal, not quite real" (103). Ruth, Lee's aptly named, long-suffering wife, also speaks in a human tone felt to betray Lee's idealistic hope of their escape together to San Francisco. "His soaring thoughts were brought back by the quality in her voice," its discernable hurt, and resignation to a life of perpetual insecurity.

Himes's interest in aurality and the raw matter of sensation is only one more local instance of the way felt life in Lonely Crusade careens violently between the gendered and raced particularities of lived experience and a broader human nature whose claims make Lee decidedly uneasy. In this novel at least, the qualities of hurt feelings are not yet marshaled toward a program of avant-garde anti-humanism, nor have they fully "abandoned, in Kevin Bell s terms, "every mapping of the reassuringly human." (11) Rather, they are thought within a midcentury political terrain awash in competing humanisms--Marxist, liberal-capitalist, Existentialist, sentimental--through which Himes's inflects his noir vision. On the one hand, the loneliness of Lee's crusade means overcoming iris suspicions about the very concept of "the struggle of humanity." Himes gives Marxist humanism a good hearing in the novel, even as he underscores its internal fissures across differences of race and gender and its own capacities for inhuman violence. When one of the Party's labor organizers, the black Luther McGregor, turns out to be a turncoat, and keeps his job to preserve the Party's facade of good relations with African American labor, Lee describes the Communist Party's decision to sacrifice Jackie as a "lynching." Similarly, when Rosie, in an early conversation with Lee, appeals to abstract "human rights" to convince Lee that "the Negro problem is indivisible from the problem of the masses, you have no special problem," Lee states flatly that he is "not [human] in this country" (89). His fellow labor organizer, Smitty, exhorts Lee to "rise above his personal feelings" and "injuries," and yet Himes links this jargon of human internationalism to the kind of chatter Lee overhears at a swell Marxist bash early in the novel, namely "that there are no such things as male and female personalities. There is only one personality--the human personality" (91).

While Lee will often find his wayward thoughts returning to the concept of "the human race, to which we all belong," the daily realities of iris existence signal the speciousness of Marxist species-being. The ideal of abstract belonging is hollowed out by what Himes refers to as "the emotion of race," or the "race feeling," or race living inside "not [as] a designation of a people, but a real and live emotion, stronger than love or hate or fear" (70). The work of such an emotion is most evident when Jackie, unjustly expelled from the union, finds in her own metaphoric lynching a sense of "affinity to these Negroes ... for they were always terribly hurt." The realization that Lee Gordon was not her accuser, as her inner racist believes, but in fact her only defender produces a kind of mutual humanization. Jackie spends the afternoon "in wonder at her emotions concerning [Lee]. And finally she could think the words: 'In a way he's such a wonderful guy--and a man, yes, a man!'" (276). In this moment of seeing Lee as human, she herself "with God's blessing, was human once again" (276). The machine of humanization set in motion, the couple enjoy a blissful (and wildly overwritten) afternoon in which sensual abandon becomes synonymous with worldly feeling: "In their rive senses, in their sex and emotion, they had achieved a oneness in which their colors blended. It was in their minds that the difference lay.... And to Jackie Forks, that afternoon was the discovery of the world, and the people thereof and the purpose of the people of the world.... And she was of no race and no color but only of the people of the world" (278-79). However, this brief experiment in sex and solidarity ultimately founders because, Lee observes, "publicly she would always support the legend of her superiority--because in the end she would always find race her strongest emotion" (334).

Democracy for Anybody: Or, a Guy Named Lee

Himes here ironically recasts his own wartime internationalist aspirations, as the notion of the "people of the world" reemerges, now as dubious sentimentality mocked by the fractious emotion of race. Himes will shortly perfect this kind of satirical dissection of liberal humanism in The End of a Primitive (1955), in which Jesse Robinson's final murder of Kris yields more grist for another humanizing machine--one that links the imperial rhetoric of the postwar U. S. to the sentimental appetite of the booming midcentury market for stories of damaged black psyches:
 End product of the impact of Americanization on one Jesse
 Robinson--black man. Your answer, son. You've been searching for
 it. BLACK MAN KILLS WHITE WOMAN.... Good article for the Post. He
 Joined the Human Race. all good solid American Post readers will
 know exactly what you mean: were a nigger but killed a white woman
 and became a human being. (End 205) (12) 

Is Himes's point in Lonely Crusade that the notion of "the people of the world" should be dispensed with since it belies the particular qualities of racial feeling? Or, as McCann suggests, that Himes clings doggedly to the idea of sympathetic human community despite both the cleavages of "race feeling" between racial groups, and what Lee observes of the differences of feeling within racial groups? The question comes to a head near the novel's conclusion, when Lee refuses to "excuse his predicament on grounds of race. This time he alone was to blame--Lee Gordon, a human being, one of the cheap, weak people of the world. Being a Negro was a cause--yes. But it was never a justification" (361). The crucial, lengthy passage goes on to admit that "the fact" of Lee's race had resulted in injustice in criminal abridgments of his human rights and privileges at the hands of white oppressors. Yet the passage ends by affirming his right to "protest and appeal, to defend his person and his citizenship courageously, and to unceasingly demand that justice be accorded to him" (362). "He would," Himes's free indirect narration maintains, "have to stand or fail as one other human being in the world" (362). It is this version of humanism that sparks Lee's realization that his manhood is "not an actual thing, but a lack of something," a "hole that needed filling" (365).

For those who think Lee's narrative are moves inexorably from the pangs of uncertainty and fear to the clarity and meaning of martyrdom, this passage marks the moment when Lee's tumultuous feelings finally become purposive. In the process, the hole in his manhood is filled, and he lacks no more. However, the wound is not just in Lee's masculinity, but in the formal logic of freedom. Lee recognizes the basic aporia in the notion of human rights--that, as Hannah Arendt would argue just a few years later, "the Rights of Man are the rights of those who are only human beings, who," without a national community to secure their rights, "have no more property left than the property of being human." Human rights "are the rights of those who have no rights" (Ranciere 298). The hole in Lee's manhood figures the very arbitrariness of democratic citizenship at midcentury, all formal (i.e., biopolitical) qualification with no real core.

The qualities of Lee's hurt feelings in Lonely Crusade follow from problems like these, which are the problems of American democracy's failure to deliver on its ideals and the claims of humanisms to redress that failure. For those who see the novel as an emblematic text of social realism, and of the realist subject's stoic, epistemological clarity against which the surreal poetry of detective fiction is measured, the text raises the problem of a protagonist constantly estranged by his own feelings, subject to "the sudden crazy feeling of being hurled through life by the emotions of others, by idiocies and insanities and false values in which he had no part" (Lonely Crusade 194). Democracy, Ranciere suggests, is only the radical totality of "those who have no 'qualification,'" or the "part of those who have no part" (305). Lee's emotional vacancy is described by a similar absence of discernable qualifies, subject to moods and feelings that exist outside of him and which leave him unable to matter or count: "Lee felt a sense of drifting in a sea of strange emotions, just light enough to float. He had no aim, no will, no purpose--he just went along" (351). Only in the novel's final pages does Lee feel differently--not "lost or black or unimportant, but part of it, contained by it, as a ripple in the river of humanity" (386). In the process, "the face of the earth had changed for him.... Values had taken new meanings and people new forms" (386).

Such is the disposition of Lee's affect at the novel's end: neither fitted into the grooves of straight, down-the-line political instrumentality nor liberated from inhuman discursive structuring. Instead, Himes's midcentury humanism is poor, even fragile, and marked by one of the crucial insights of the broader theoretical tradition of antihumanist thought that has recently found much to admire in Himes's feelings--namely, that humanity and its freedoms are structured by forces, powers, and forms of political instrumentality that operate in excess of human agency or will. Elsewhere I have explained how modernism's revolutionary versions of human feeling were especially attuned to this dilemma. (13) Lee's feeling about life ends the novel in the same modernist spot in which it begins--namely, with the uneasy dynamism of affect as both a way of disposing the world to human meaning and value--that is, qualifying it, making it matter--and reckoning with the inhuman disqualifications of sensible experience that form democratic citizenship in America. Shortly before his death, Edward Said hoped that humanism, freed from its Eurocentric and imperialist misappropriation, might be restored to its role as a fundamentally "modernist theory and practice of reading and interpreting"--a technology of uncertainty and ongoing critique (55). This practice is the labor of Lonely Crusade, and is still visible without irony in Rosie's materialist claims for humanity as a process, a dynamic and uncertain mutability.

It is this modernist style of humanism that Himes hoped to capture in 1948 when, still licking his wounds from the reception of Lonely Crusade, the author delivered a blistering address at the University of Chicago entitled The Dilemma of the Negro Novelist in the U. S." Himes insists that insofar as the African American writer "possesses the heritage of slavery," his "thoughts and emotions have been fashioned by his American environment," and so exist in perpetual conflict with it ("Dilemma" 53). Citing Horace Cayton directly, Himes acknowledges the psychological significance of hate and fear, "destructive" and "ugly" emotions, and yet essential (56). No such feelings have been purged; to the contrary, Himes incorporates as his own words in the speech two full sentences from the Atlantic Monthly's bilious review of Lonely Crusade, unacknowledged as the stinging words of others. Himes's hurt feelings linger without catharsis, continuing the process of shaping value and meaning, moving this thought toward more democratic futures. Aptly, the address ends on a note of mundane dynamism, as Himes notes: "a face deep within the human personality that is impregnable to all assaults.... Growth.... The tree will send up its trunk in thick profusion from land burned black by atom bombs." Nothing, he concludes, is permanent but change (58).

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. "Everybody's Protest Novel." 1949. Notes of a Native Son. Boston: Beacon, 1984. 13-23.

Brown, Lloyd L. "White Flag--Chester Himes' Banner Is More Than a Symbol of Surrender--Under It He Joins His People's Foes." Rev. of Lonely Crusade, by Chester Himes. New Masses 64.11 (9 Sept. 1947): 18-20.

Cassuto, Leonard. Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories. New York: Columbia UP, 2009.

Cayton, Horace R. "The Psychological Approach to Race Relations." Reed College Bulletin 25.1 (November 1946): 5-27.

Christowe, Stoyan. Rev. of Lonely Crusade, by Chester Himes. Atlantic Monthly 179.4 (October 1947): 138.

Himes, Chester. "Author's Protest." Commentary 6.4 (May 1948): 474.

--. Black on Black: Baby Sister and Selected Writings. New York: Doubleday, 1973.

--. "Dilemma of the Negro Novelist in the U.S." 1948. Beyond the Angry Black. Ed. John A. Williams. New York: Cooper Square, 1966. 52-58.

--. The End of a Primitive. 1955. New York: Norton, 1997.

--. If He Hollers Let Him Go. 1945. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1986.

--. "If You're Scared, Go Home!" 1944. Himes, Black on Black 226-29.

--. "It Is Time to Count Your Blessings." Ebony 3 (November 1947): 44-45.

--. Lonely Crusade. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1947.

--. "Negro Martyrs Are Needed." 1944. Himes, Black on Black 230-35.

--. "Now is the Time! Here is the Place!" 1942. Himes, Black on Black 213-19.

--. The Quality of Hurt: The Early Years, The Autobiography of Chester Himes. 1972. New York: Paragon House, 1990.

--. "Zoot Riots are Race Riots." 1943. Himes, Black on Black 220-25.

Klonsky, Milton. Rev. of Lonely Crusade, by Chester Himes. Commentary 5.2 (February 1948): 189-90.

Kracauer, Siegfried. "Hollywood's Terror Films: Do They Reflect an American State of Mind?" Commentary 2.2 (August 1946): 132-26.

--. "Psychiatry for Everything and Everybody: The Present Vogue--and What Is Behind It." Commentary 5.3 (March 1948): 222-28).

--. "Those Movies with a Message." Harper's 196 (June 1948): 567-72.

Leja, Michael. Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993.

Maltby, Richard. "The Politics of the Maladjusted Text." The Movie Book of Film Noir. Ed. Ian Cameron. London: Studio Vista, 1994. 39-49.

McCann, Sean. Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism. Durham: Duke UP, 2000.

Milken, Stephen F. Chester Himes: A Critical Approach. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1976.

Rabinowitz, Paula. Black & White & Noir: America's Pulp Modernism. New York: Columbia UP, 2002.

Ranciere, Jacques. "Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man?" South Atlantic Quarterly 103.2-3 (Spring/Summer 2004): 297-310.

Rev. of Lonely Crusade, by Chester Himes. New Yorker 23.30 (13 Sept. 1947): 120.

Said, Edward W. Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York: Columbia, 2004.

Singh, Nikhil Pal. Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2004.

Wald, Alan M. Trinity of Passion: The Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2007.


(1.) For a persuasive account of how the American sentimental novel invented hard-boiled crime fiction, see Cassuto. Cain, Cassuto reminds us, cited Stowe directly in his work (17).

(2.) See the compelling recent treatments of Himes's crime fiction in Jonathan Eburne, Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2008); Christopher Breu, Hard-Boiled Masculinities (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2005; and McCann.

(3.) On the French postwar invention of film noir, see James Naremore, More Than Night." Film Noir in Its Contexts (Berkeley: U of California P, 1998).

(4.) On noir's culture of exile, see Lutz Koepnick's The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood (Berkeley: U of California P, 2002); and Anton Kaes, "A Stranger in the House: Fritz Lang's Fury and the Cinema of Exile," Gerd Gemunden and Anton Kaes, eds., Film and Exile, spec. issue of New German Critique 89 (Spring/Summer 2003): 33-58.

(5.) For an excellent account of the importance of negative affect in Himes's work as the very terrain of contradictory cultural fantasies about race, see Breu. For a broader account of the way negative affect discloses situations of suspended political agency, see Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005). For a compelling study of modernist grotesquerie and affective excess as a challenge to the disciplinary politics of sentimentality and scrutiny, see Joseph B. Entin's chapter on Native Son in Sensational Modernism: Experimental Fiction and Photography in Thirties America (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2007), 215-55.

(6.) For other midcentury reflections on the psychologizing trend in Hollywood films, see Gordon Kahn, "One Psychological Moment, Please," Atlantic Monthly 178.4 (October 1946): 135-37; and Frank Krutnik, "Film Noir and the Popularization of Psychoanalysis," in In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity (London: Routledge, 1991); 45-55.

(7.) On Hollywood's psychoculturalist role in America's postwar political program of German reeducation in U. S.-style democracy, see Jennifer Fay, Theaters of Occupation: Hollywood and the Reeducation of Postwar Germany (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008).

(8.) On the suddenness of classical fear, see Philip Fisher, The Vehement Passions (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2002). On the noir paranoia as a sub-species of fear defined by ongoingness and a refusal of catharsis, see Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005), 298-331.

(9.) For this discussion characterization of Myrdal, and a thoughtful discussion of The American Dilemma, see Singh and Brown 18.

(10.) On the relationship between democracy and the distribution of the sensible, see Jacques Ranciere, Hatred of Democracy, trans. Steve Corcoran (London: Verso, 2005).

(11.) See Kevin Bell's stunning Deleuzian discussion of Himes's affective challenge to political and racial instrumentality in Ashes Taken for Fire: Aesthetic Modernism and the Critique of Identity (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2007), 205.

(12.) For a smart discussion of this novel's satiric challenge to the sympathetic ideals of postwar liberalism, see Jodi Melamed, "The Killing Joke of Sympathy: Chester Himes's End of a Primitive Sounds the Limits of Racial Liberalism," American Literature 80.4 (December 2008): 769-97.

(13.) See Justus Nieland, Feeling Modern: The Eccentricities of Public Life (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2008).
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Title Annotation:A Special Section on Chester Himes
Author:Nieland, Justus
Publication:African American Review
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2009
Previous Article:On Chester Himes and Success.
Next Article:"Singing Love Songs to Mr. Death": Racial Terror and the State of Erection in D'Angelo's "(Untitled) How Does It Feel?".

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