Baldwin, language, blackness

In “Letter on Humanism,” a letter written to French theorist Jean Beaufret in response to the claim that his book Being and Time did not contain an ethics, Martin Heidegger famously remarks that “language is the house of Being.” This is a signature moment in Heidegger’s work, one that (roughly) shifts his work from the…

Introducing Naipaul and Fanon

This is the draft introduction to my essay “Martinique Between Naipaul and Fanon,” which I have written about in a number of posts over the past week. Antillean society is a neurotic society, a comparison society. Hence we are referred back from the individual to the social structure. If there is a flaw, it lies…

Sighs and history

The meaning of Caribbean history is too much for any single post, to say the least (ha), but let me reflect here on with two signature moments in theorizing the Black diaspora. At the 1956 Paris Congress, where Fanon delivered his “Racism and Culture” essay, Alioun Diop makes an important set of remarks. Diop remarks…

Fanon’s Martinique

How does Fanon understand Martinique, and therefore the Caribbean as such? This question concerns both how Fanon’s work works as a theory of the colonized and what it means that Fanon left the Caribbean for Algeria. I do not mean to speculate about motives or mindset, but instead just describe how Fanon’s account of the…

Writing, place, tradition

In “Reading and Writing,” there is a short meditation on Joseph Conrad’s work, work with which he feels a surprising and almost elliptical affinity, and Naipaul there turns to autobiography in order to describe the relationship between reading and a sense of place. This is important because it inscribes the question of place – what…

Fanon and audience

One of my general aims in critically re-reading Fanon is to historicize – in the sense of periodization – his thought. For me, this means in part critically evaluating how he understands the Caribbean in terms of memory, history, and culture, framed by developments after Fanon. Too much work in philosophy and theory begins and…

Fanon and historical process

One of the key claims in my writing on Fanon is that he eschews history in the name of a new beginning, which is both fantastical and forgetful of those forms of resistance and saying yes to life borne by vernacular cultural forms. For me, this is not just a comment about how Fanon has…

Trouble and Death

I’m writing and thinking about two passages. The first is an old 1920s blues and string band lyric, one that has many variations, but comes down to this turn of phrase: If trouble don’t kill me I believe I’ll never die The lyric comes up a lot in profoundly sad and mournful songs, of course,…

Between Naipaul and Fanon

My essay for the Caribbean Philosophical Association meeting in San Juan makes what I hope will be a provocative claim: on the question of the meaning of the Caribbean, Naipaul and Fanon are essentially saying the same thing. In terms of the iconography of the Caribbean intellectual tradition, there could not be a sharper contrast….

Ménil and the marvelous

As I complete the critical introduction for my translation, I’m  working through ideas of the marvelous in Ménil’s work. In particular, I’m wondering how the créolité manifesto draws upon those ideas to, in part, surmount the Césaire’s work on Négritude. It is a complicated question. On the one hand, the question is stalled from the…