By my count, we’re almost two-thirds of the way through the year. (I just did the math and it’s 62.5%, or five-eighths, but whatever. It’ll be two-thirds by the end of next week.) Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that unlike the books that came before it, I found that Black Skin/White Masks reminded me a lot of other books we’ve read, and it’s quite late in the year now. We’ve discussed different connections between texts before, but this one came off to me as a mix of Freud (naturally), Trouillot, and Hobbes (the cover review says “revolutionary manifesto” – what can I say?).
I think we talked about this during seminar, but Black Skin/White Masks uses some psychoanalytic techniques to support arguments, like free association (144) and dream analysis (can’t find a page reference right now, but it’s there). There were other parts that reminded me of Freud too, though. From pages 147-149, Fanon describes a case which reminded me of the relationship between sex and mental illness in women that was brought up in Freud and in lecture.
The back cover of Silencing the Past says that “Trouillot offers a stunning meditation on how power operates in the making and recording of history”. The discussion of power is one of the things that reminded me of Trouillot while reading Black Skin/White Masks. Something else that probably reminded me too was how both Trouillot and Fanon use code-switching to emphasize cultural differences. In my original Silencing the Past post, I brought up scientific racism, which is a topic Fanon discusses too. I think the main similarity here, though, is the meta aspect: Silencing the Past is a history book that talks about the construction of history, and Black Skin/White Masks is a book that talks about racism and discussion of racism. Fanon actually seems to lampshade this a little when he paraphrases Wolfe that “many books dealing with racism become best sellers” (153).
My first impression of Black Skin/White Masks was that it resembled both Freud and Trouillot. I hadn’t thought of Leviathan yet at that point, but as I continued reading, I became more and more aware that Fanon’s prose is not like Freud’s or Trouillot’s, or even a combination of the two. Fanon’s declaratory style is a lot like Hobbes: In seminar, somebody (I’m not completely sure who) said that Hobbes tells you what’s up. As in, he doesn’t do a whole lot of justification. (I said this before in tutorial, but Rousseau loves the random justification. So does Freud, come to think of it.)
(If you can remember who provided the Hobbes gloss, and you care enough, please comment. I’ll fix it. Thanks.)
I’m still not sure where I stand on this book. I’ve been ambivalent on most of the reading list in the matter of personal taste, with a few exceptions, and I think I would have been personally ambivalent also on Black Skin/White Masks if it didn’t remind me of my least favourite book (Freud) as well as my favourite book (Trouillot). I don’t know. Decidedly neutral, maybe? Thanks for reading, everyone.