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After Dartmouth and a surprising stretch as a stockbroker in Minneapolis—an experience that goes mostly undescribed in “Afropessimism” but which Wilderson has elsewhere characterized as a kind of double life—Wilderson enrolls in the creative-writing program at Columbia.

Though “Afropessimism” may veer from the Black autobiographical tradition, the book doesn’t escape genre altogether.

It falls into a category sometimes called “auto-theory,” an attempt to arrive at a philosophy by way of the self.

Wilderson takes from Fanon—and then exaggerates, literally to death—a critique of humanism as it has been practiced (or, more often, not practiced) in the Western world.

Black thought at its best has been a vehicle for and a product of analogy.

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