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img594The dust jacket of this novel has three colors: Beige, Brown and Black.

Now bear in mind the date of this book: 1964 YES 1964! The topic held more interest then than it does now. Today you could write the same story about four people of any color if you wanted to make color the excuse for creating interest in a topic. Perhaps their lives should not have been about skin color at all.

img595img596Justice to the  superbly clean dust jacket design can only be done by showing the front and the back:

img597Below is a philosophical reflection on “skin”, note not “skin color” by the German author and philosopher Wolfgang Sofsky in the book Privacy: A Manifesto, Princeton University Press, 2008. (From the German book title Verteidigung des Privaten: Eine Streitschrift, C.H. Beck oHG, 2007.) The statement by Sofsky applies to any person without consideration as to skin color, and this is how we should interpret the words skin deep.

Before the inviolability of the person stands the inviolability, the untouchability, of his skin. Therein lies the nerve center of everything private.

He goes on and says “Desire, shivering, pain, confusion are all immediately connected with the physiology of the skin. The skin wraps itself around life; it is our largest organ. It protects us against the cold and heat; it is elastic, washable and waterproof, but at the same time extremely sensitive and vulnerable. It encloses a person, gives him his unique form and shield him against intruders. The sense of touch is the first human sense to become active, and it is the last to go. It remains awake at night, ready to receive impressions. The skin does not sleep. Like a sentinel, it protects the sleeper.”

Well said, simple to understand but with enormous consequences upon further reflection, as Sofsky continues:

The skin is a living borderline, marking the difference between the ego and the world. It communicates directly the experience of one’s own actions and suffering. The skin lies midway in the spectrum of the senses, between the conditions of taste and smell and the objects of seeing and hearing. But whereas an intervening distance exists between events and what our eyes and ears register, touch effects the subject directly. It leaves no possibility of flight.”

Here are a few of my own comments:

Using the words “Skin deep” implies that words can “sink” in and seep through the “sensitive skin” (the mind), leaving a mark not dissimilar perhaps to a tattoo (the body). The difference is the former can be relegated to permanent “memory” (oblivion), if you so choose, but the latter is usually more permanent and with you for life (beyond your control). Both can leave “scars” upon “removal” and you decide how you live with them, relegated or removed. Is there beauty without a blemish?

It is not about skin color when we use the word skin deep, as color is  seen by eyes, and thus is in the eyes of the beholder, underneath that layer we are all made out of the same stuff. The what and the how you interpret the rest is up to you.

A very important point to remember in an age where race baiting in all the color schemes seems to be nothing else but a mask, a tool if you will, used by the current American political class that attempts to pit One Man against Another. Don’t suck into it!

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