Thanks Jimmy Baldwin, you’re no help

I have not been able to track down the source of this quote attributed to Baldwin: “You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”   Aside from being a near tautology (altering that way people look at world then leads to change in the world), but self-evidently just getting them to read rather than do something also changes the world… from the counter-factual world of what might have been had you not read the book.

I wish he had been more skeptical… “Maybe reading a book can lead some people to change their actions by a millimeter or more, sometimes, but it is really hard to know whether it does, and to know whether those changes are large enough to matter, in the scheme of a background of constant change.”

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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