Reading Notes: Fanon, Black Skin White Masks

PDF Version

Fanon, BSWM (Markman translation)


Chp 1 The Negro and Language

Chp 2 The Woman of Color and the White Man

Chp 3 The Man of Color and the White Woman

Chp 4 The So-Called Dependency Complex of Colonized Peoples

Chp 5 The Face of Blackness (preferred: “The Lived Experience of the Black”)

Chp 6 The Negro and Psychopathology

Chp 7 The Negro and Recognition

Chp 8 By Way of Conclusion


8 “The explosion will not happen today. It is too soon … or too late.”

9 “the black is not a man” / negation, consciousness, cosmos, yes /

9 “the black is a black man … rooted at the core of a universe from which he must be extricated”

[AC: the problem is not that the black is black, but the black is a man-notman]

9 “I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself”

10 “Black men want to prove to white men, at all costs, the richness of their thought, the qual value of the intellect. / How do we extricate ourselves?”

11 epidermalization

12 “The architecture of this work is rooted in the temporal. Every human problem must be considered from the stand-[13]point of time.”

13 “And this future is not the future of the cosmos but rather the future of my century, my country, my existence. In no fashion should I undertake to prepare the world that will come later. I belong irreducible to my time.”

13 “… I consider the present in terms of something to be exceeded.”

14 “… what is often called the black soul is a white man’s artifact.”

14 “The educated Negro, slave of the spontaneous and cosmic Negro myth, feels at a given stage that his race no longer understands him. … Then he congratulates himself on this, and enlarging the difference, the incomprehension, the disharmony, he finds in them the meaning of his humanity. Or more rarely he wants to belong to his people. And it is with rage in his mouth and abandon in his heart that he buries himself in the vast black abyss. We shall see that this attitude, so heroically absolute, renounces the present and the future in the name of a mystical past.”

Continue reading “Reading Notes: Fanon, Black Skin White Masks”

Upcoming Talk: April in NYC

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”

This event addresses a fundamental problem for contemporary theory: How can we think the darkness? On one side of this darkness is a regression and slippage back to gothic-romanticism, a state of mind, and thinking that FWJ Schelling alluded to when he said that: “History as a whole is a progressive, gradually self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute”. On the other side, is the scientific-realist perception of and about the darkness, as it overwhelms us, and encourages immersion in absolute [nothingness-strangeness-the alien]: i.e. it performs as the nature of the universe.

We begin from a consolidated position of darkness: >No hope, no future, no humanity, no way out, no limitations to thinking the darkness …

From this start-point spring 3 perspectives:
Dark Anthropocene = geology folding back into a singularity <
Afropessimism = contemporary methodology for destroying the world <
Non-standard animism = a politics of indivisible extra-terran non/humanity <

The three perspectives are material experiments in working with and in the darkness. The stakes of these experiments are multiple — they constitute finding something when one is blind. The risks are high, the rewards potentially immense. This is not theory by any other name than an encounter on a dark horizon …

The Black Radical Tradition


To understand blackness, one can begin with the context set by The Black Radical Tradition. Scholars have argued that enslaved African peoples have transferred and edited “historical, cultural, and moral materials” as an ongoing shared resource (Interview). Cedric Robinson argues in Black Marxism for the self-conscious development of those materials into a political project that he calls “The Black Radical Tradition.” Familiar Marxists fill the ranks of the Tradition, namely WEB DuBois, CLR James, and (more recently) Angela Davis. Generalizing the problematic out from individual thinkers, we can think the Lukacsian spirit of the challenge posed by the project of The Black Radical Tradition: how can blackness overcome the self-aware fact of shared condition to become a self-aware political force? Or in the elegant Marxian terms: the transition from a class-in-itself to a class-for-itself (commonly derived from The Poverty of Philosophy). Continue reading “The Black Radical Tradition”