Monday, February 20, 2012

Norman Mailer and Bantu Philosophy

Norman Mailer, in The Fight, his book on the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire in 1974 ("The Rumble in the Jungle") writes about his encounter with the ideas of Bantu philosophy:

"Given a few of his own ideas, Norman's excitement was not small as he read Bantu Philosophy. For he discovered that the instinctive philosophy of African tribesmen happened to be close to his own. Bantu philosophy, he soon learned, saw humans as forces, not beings. Without putting it into words, he had always believed that. It gave a powerful shift to his thoughts. By such logic, men or women were more than the parts of themselves, which is to say more than the result of their heredity and experience. A man was not only what he contained, not only his desires, his memory, and his personality, but also the forces that came to inhabit him at any moment from all things living and dead. So a man was not only himself, but the karma of all the generations past that still lived in him, not only a human with his own psyche but a part of the resonance, sympathetic or unsympathetic, of every root and thing (and witch) about him."