james baldwin said

‘I remember standing on a street corner with the black painter Beauford Delaney down in the Village, waiting for the light to change, and he pointed down and said, Look. I looked and all I saw was water. And he said, Look again, which I did, and I saw oil on the water and the city reflected in the puddle. It was a great revelation to me. I can’t explain it. He taught me how to see, and how to trust what I saw. Painters have often taught writers how to see. And once you’ve had that experience, you see differently.’

Like when J taught me to look at the cracks in the pavement in Hackney.


8 thoughts on “james baldwin said

  1. Benno, if that is you, after all these years, I will probably start believing in angels and the significance of white feathers myself… If it is you, email me, please. Egguhshegudrah. I know that’s not how it’s spelt, but I’ve never forgotten. And no, I haven’t. On the puddle, that is. What’s puddle in Hungarian, I wonder.

  2. It strikes me, by the way, that this post was a bit self-indulgent and a bit gooey. I apologise to all those I may have offended. Including myself.

  3. do you know how much time I have spent, standing and bent over, looking into a puddle with its concentric rings repeating, interlocking and melting away? ..and we haven’t even started on reflections.
    I could tell you about riding the subway and gazing out the windows at the flashing rails, graffiti and light in the blur of underworld
    better to just paint

  4. There we are Mia: you are the artist. And your line on the flashing rails and blur of light and underworld makes me think that one day you must meet my other better half. He filmed a whole journey like that! You’d get on famously, I’m sure!

  5. Only one Perk. Of course. I must start reading Berger, in shame that until you emailed me I hardly knew who he was. I shouldn’t admit that publicly probably.

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