Should be reading more and writing less, but well...

Monday, October 30, 2006


The Autobiography of Malcolm X

It's somewhat sad that the Autobiography of Malcolm X is also meant to be a specific political and social message, as well as serve as a brilliant account of the life of a thoughtful and brave leader. X thought he would be dead by the time the book came out, and was also probably a little concerned about what he wanted his reluctant critics to think about him: so that they would take his message seriously. So, instead of celebrating change for change's sake, X decided to underplay it, to an extent that if don't watch out for it, the book will seem more like a testament to the angst and the rage of the African American in mid-nineteenth century. It is that, I don't deny it; but it's also an account of a man's life - a life of change: change in reverence of concepts, in thoughts, in mind-sets, in lifestyle, and more so, a change in life itself.

Malcolm X went from being a shoe-shiner, to a hustler peddling drugs in the Harlem ghettos, to armed robbery in Boston's Roxbury area, to prison (where he had all his education - not the kind which prisons typically dish out), to being a minister in a temple, to being the most ardent mouth-piece for a socio-religious movement, to revelation in Mecca, to being the charismatic leader of African-Americans, to a martyr.

We see these transitions through X's eyes; and this has to be attributed to the writing skills of Alex Haley, who ghostwrote the Autobiography. But what hit me more was that though the changes are what the book is about, X's thoughts preceding his committing to any change is never discussed. Some changes, he had no hand in them; some others, he went through them while knowing that they would alter the very nature of his built up case, cause, and life. He clearly explains why he changed, but he never touches upon what he went through before these changes. The uncertainty of any major self-orchestrated life change is what I would have loved to see X muse upon.......Every such change in my life, however miniscule it might be, makes me wonder.....

Apart from that one complaint, there is also a shocking lack of supreme skepticism about religion in the book. Someone as sharp, as obviously intelligent, and as widely read, embracing a new religion to the extent of being ready to die for it - makes me conclude that the driving forces must have been of an order of magnitude that I cannot even imagine. Maybe in a larger context of history, it will all make sense. A must read.

ps: Most house burglars get thwarted by dim lights of bathrooms.



February 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   January 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   March 2008   June 2008   February 2009   June 2009   February 2010   November 2010  

Quick index to blog-posts I like (from my personal website)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Statscounter is generating statistics of this page