Men simply copied the realities of their hearts when they built prisons.
I'd like to see the bay cleaned up before I die.
It's becoming very much like 1979 again.
I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
The impulse to dream was slowly beaten out of me by experience. Now it surged up again and I hungered for books, new ways of looking and seeing.
The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.
I knew that I lived in a country in which the aspirations of black people were limited, marked-off. Yet I felt that I had to go somewhere and do something to redeem my being alive.
Is not life exactly what it ought to be, in a certain sense? Isn't it only the naive who find all of this baffling? If you've a notion of what man's heart is, wouldn't you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man's frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself?
there are times when life's ends are so raveled that reason and sense cry out that we stop and gather them together again before we can proceed
I was leaving the South to fling myself into the unknown . . . I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns and, perhaps, to bloom
I did not know if the story was factually true or not, but it was emotionally true [...].
Hunger has always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at my gauntly.
It had been only through books-at best, no more than vicarious cultural transfusions-that I had managaed to keep myself alive in a negatively vital way. Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books...
The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination.
If a man confessed anything on his death bed, it was the truth; for no man could stare death in the face and lie.
All literature is protest.
Love grows from stable relationships, shared experience, loyalty, devotion, trust.
Reading was like a drug, a dope. The novels created moods in which I lived for days.
Goddamnit, look! We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain't. They do things and we can't. It's just like livin' in jail.
Violence is a personal necessity for the oppressed...It is not a strategy consciously devised. It is the deep, instinctive expression of a human being denied individuality.
I was not leaving the south to forget the south, but so that some day I might understand it
Make up your mind, Snail! You are half inside your house, And halfway out!
Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books...
Don't leave inferences to be drawn when evidence can be presented.
But the color of a Negro's skin makes him easily recognizable, makes him suspect, converts him into a defenseless target
They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.
Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.
It made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.
I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em...
I listened, vaguely knowing now that I had committed some awful wrong that I could not undo, that I had uttered words I could not recall even though I ached to nullify them, kill them, turn back time to the moment before I had talked so that I could have another chance to save myself.
I could endure the hunger. I had learned to live with hate. But to feel that there was feeling denied me, that the very breath of life itself was beyond my reach, that more than anything else hurt, wounded me. I had a new hunger.
It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.
Pity can purge us of hostility and arouse feelings of identification with the characters, but it can also be a consoling reassurance which leads us to believe that we have understood, and that, in pitying, we have even done something to right a wrong.
Each day when you see us black folk upon the dusty land of your farm or upon the hard pavement of your city streets, you usually take it for granted and think you know us, but our history is far stranger than you suspect, and we are not what we seem.
What could I dream of that had the barest possibility of coming true? I could think of nothing. And, slowly, it was upon exactly that nothingness that my mind began to dwell, that constant sense of wanting without having, of being hated without reason.
Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible... Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I made things happen within. Because my environment was bare and bleak, I endowed it with unlimited potentialities, redeemed it for the sake of my own hungry and cloudy yearning.