Compare and Contrast James Baldwin’s `Stranger in the Village` Essay
Our world today has experienced so much events since begin of time. Evolution came through time. Eventually, man came forth and dominated the kingdom of creation. Man shaped history with its control. Man expanded through different land and created their culture based on their beliefs. Language, art and science developed through time. The power given to man was unstoppable. We created societies with different ideals and moral. Our belief once even crashed and created years of war because we fought for the ideals we believed. Lands were separated. Territory became an issue. Even ownership of land was died for. Freedom became a big factor in a revolt of a society. Eventually societies were classified to nations.
The population of the dominating man grew and the need for more resources and land was needed. Man explored through the depths of the kingdom of creation, seeking every corner of the world for new lands to be controlled. One of those powerful lands was called Europe. It governed the shape of man today. They were the powerful beings of history. They controlled history which made them inevitably a part of every person today. Their crave of power directed others to create a new land separated from the molders of time. They created a new land. They made a land with different law, environment, well being, morale and life. This land was called America. The land of America was the major discussion of the famous essays entitled `Stranger in the Village` by James Baldwin and `Utopia Achieved` Jean Baudrillard.
In a land of great history, great problem arises. Conflicts issue conflict. There is an unending chain of actions that causes unending chains of question. Man through out the centuries has tried to unravel the mysteries that life has to offer. The problems made us intellectual. The encounter that pursues us made us brighter. Language has been developed. Our way of expressing our thoughts deepened through the use of our imagination. We have exceeded the boundaries of ignorance and create our thoughts. James Baldwin and Jean Baudrillard are great examples of the dominant species called humans. America, the land of great opportunities, was part of their lives which gave them power to express themselves.
The Stranger in the Village was all about James Baldwin, who was a black African American, visiting a distant Swiss village in the mountains. The village is located in a very high mountain which made it virtually unknown. Their village has a neighboring village located below the mountains. The village below the mountains was urbanized. In the other hand, n the village atop the mountains has less modernization. Presumably, almost all of the citizens of the village are a catholic based from their catholic style church. There were few establishments in the village and only one school for the village which was only for early education only. The village was covered with mountains carrying the white color of the snow. The village was quite like a community lost in time, preserved in the walls of the mountains, not corrupted by the complexity of the world.
When the James first entered the village, the people always stared at him. He guessed that the villagers did not know that there was a black American. Their stares and criticism made him uneasy. Even in his third visit to the village, he still felt uneasy, like he hasn’t visited that village before. Children in the playing in the streets would always call him by the term Neger. The children only told the truth, he was a black American from his black complexity up to his odd hair. This made him feel different from the others. The truth that he faced from the land he came from, which was America, is still haunting him in an overseas land. The villagers did not have any idea how much pride swallowing was it to him to bear their judgment. He cannot blame himself to become a black American. He is just a person trapped by the cruelty of history. But there was no point of debating with his inner rants because the village is not acquainted with the modern world that there is a thing called racisms.
He was even told about a tradition of the village that they yearly purchase Africans to be baptized. They conduct this tradition so that they can save Africans that are not yet baptized. The reason of their tradition has a good intention although the morality of there is unjustified. Buying a person for spiritual salvation is not something that practices freedom. Salvation does not have a monetary value, it is priceless. No matter how modern the world today, James was still disturbed by the scars of the past. The Swiss village is a very good example of the world full of judgment and biases.
Even though the village is remote and is far from modernization, they were still gifted with the gift of their race. Their ancestors endowed them with the power of the dominance they once practice. Black Americans do not have that kind of advantage and matter how intellectual and modern they are there will always be a gap with the color of their skin. The village is not aware that they have the power. What more if they did? They had prevailing authority and it can be seen all around the world like the sonnets of Shakespeare, the New York Stock Exchange, the Sistine chapel and such. While the white people are in the peak of their reign, the black people were just in their uncultivated land, waiting for the conquerors to enslave them. Their fate was decided not by them. It was the harsh truth that history trapped them. Their history will forever apply these biases until all is lost.
White men mostly molded the world. This entitles them to be the guardians of their creation. They see black men as only an obstruction to this task of theirs. They see black people to be a threat to their power. They cannot accept that the black people that they just bought in the slave market before are now walking their phase in modernization. This is the sentiment that both American and Europeans are alike. But in the end, he still noted the white Americans and that is that they cultivated a country that they shared with the black Americans. That is something that no powerful country can overcome. In the shades of time, the Swiss village was locked in the old fashioned sense of viewing their life. They never saw the new way of looking life with another being, with another race. The feeling of James Baldwin towards the racism of the people was anguish and yet again contentment that America has molded black Americans in the best way they are today.(Baldwin)
In Jean Baudrillard title it states why America is the Utopia achieved. Our thirst for radical name of anti-culture, finding out the meaning of meaning, rationalization of reason and the purpose of representation, that anti-utopia which gave so many side effects in our theoretical and political, aesthetic and social aspects which have been dreamed in Europe have been achieved by America. Utopia is achieved which is perceived of getting rid of territories, being undetermined by language and race and the objectivity of all values, death and culture alike. America has already created its own paradise, where people thrive in and associate with one another. It is all seen in the physical landmarks of America today such as Disneyland, Hollywood, Las Vegas and others.
Understanding the history of one’s situation is a must in realizing one’s utopia. If one cannot understand his own history it may be because Europe conquered too much of it self and is not able to trace were it came from. In the new world of America, understanding its history is more puzzling. America was found with mysterious Indians that inhabited the continent. Even in modern times it is still a question to whether how America was formed since the start of its culture.
In America, there is neither culture nor discourse. Culture does not contain a more than culture one side, no religion contains another religion. America has developed a culture for man, which is space, theme parks, cinema, technology and the others. A culture is authentic if everything else is authentic. Jean stated much of the positive side of the American way of life, never looking of the dark cloud that always companies the bright sunshine. Nevertheless, his points of a utopia, where in people live in a environment full of culture and content is achieved in America, but what about the other countries? They too also understood their history, contain authentic culture.
Jean Baudrillard contrasts the way Europeans and American live. Basically America was discovered by the Europeans and they inhabited it. Culture from all over Europe enveloped the land. They mixed in a perfect sense. They were released from the history that imprisons Europe. They made a new start therefore is not engulfed by the madness of it. From that fresh start they made their own culture, their own way of life. They made the things that Europeans were not able to do. America was not stopped into tracks by his history, unlike a typical European would do. America is challenged by this attempt to attain a paradise in this world that history refused to give. The Old World had bookstores, museums, libraries, national landmarks. America created malls, large theme parks, magnificent sites for culture and enjoyment. Jean Baudrillard admires the astonishing creation of America. Even though America is just a mixed culture of the Europeans, the land is still accepted. Surprisingly, Americans are not productive in creating their European side such as building museums and such. Americans are better in creating magnificent films and roller coasters. Those are the things that made America a living Utopia and it is original in the world today. America until now stands out in views of many.
Jean Baudrillard looked in the bright side of things in America. He disregarded the negativity and issue of America. He noted that even though America has a negative side, it is still the best cultural land in his eyes. America for his is the utopia that he dreams it would be. He stood out from all the pessimistic views of their time. In brighter side of things, one must not always look on the negativity of a situation. It is also a good factor that a person should be optimistic once in a one. That is what made Jean Baudrillard stand out of the crowd. (Baudrillard)
Both of Jean Baudrillard and James Baldwin’s essays are mostly about America and the issues about it. They both discussed their feeling and resentments through the use of their language that man developed. They both experienced much in their lives in America and saw Europe to be one that contrasts it. They shared the same sentiments for their views of their country. In an awkward sense, both of them looked at America in a positive way. Jean Baudrillard, talked about the positive outputs of America such as their creation of their own culture different from the Europeans while James Baldwin also talked about the positive side of America in terms of treating black Americans than the Europeans. They cited their own personal encounter to deduce their statements.
Jean Baudrillard presented his message with utmost positive citations of the culture of America. He did not cite any negative side of the situation. James Baldwin’s essay, on the other hand, expressed much angst. It contained much anguish from the feelings he felt in the Swiss village. But in the end, he stated that Americans are not as bad compared to the Europeans. They both praised America in one way or the other. One similarity in their work was comparing Europe with America and in the end of their America would always win. Their point was clearly stated that Europe affected America much before but now America his standing on its own creating their own culture and just. One contrasting evident I could site with their essays would be that Jean Baudrillard based his essay on positive encounter while James Baldwin based his works on his negative encounter.(David Bartholomae)
Nonetheless, both of them expressed a great deal of points and those points were all raised on the optimistic side of America. Jean Baudrillard and James Baldwin both expressed the aspects that their molded history has given them and used it so that others can contemplate with it. It is the wonderful result of the dominance of mankind. We have perceived the world in our own grasp; we have created a world of man. In our great power, we are responsible. Let us use the power of man wisely.
Baldwin, James. “Stranger in the Village”. 1955. Essay. <http://www.uwm.edu/~gjay/Whiteness/stranger.htm>.
Baudrillard, Jean. “Utopia Achieved”. 1986. America. 97-105. <http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol3_2/jb_utopia.htm>.
David Bartholomae, Anthony Petrosky. “Ways of Readin.”7th Edition (2004).