July 30, 2016

"Of course, Republicans might yet prove frightening, and were much, if not three-quarters, to blame for every ill insight, they did not deserve the Presidency, never, and yet..."

"... if democracy was the free and fair play of human forces then perhaps the Wasp must now hold the game in his direction for a time. The Left was not ready, the Left was years away from a vision sufficiently complex to give life to the land, the Left had not yet learned to talk across the rugged individualism of the more rugged in America, the Left was still too full of kicks and pot and the freakings of sodium amytol and orgy, the howls of electronics and LSD. The Left could also find room to grow up. If the Left had to live through a species of political exile for four or eight or twelve good years, it might even be right. They might be forced to study what was alive in the conservative dream. For certain the world could not be saved by technology or government or genetics, and much of the Left had that still to learn. So the reporter stood in the center of the American Scene— how the little dramas of America, like birds, seemed to find themselves always in the right nest— and realized he was going through no more than the rearrangement of some intellectual luggage (which indeed every good citizen might be supposed to perform) during these worthy operations of the democratic soul when getting ready to vote."

Norman Mailer, "Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968."

48 comments:

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It was 40 years in the wilderness as things turned out, and they still weren't ready.

Laslo Spatula said...

Dutch Oven Writing.

I am Laslo.

Fernandinande said...

a vision sufficiently complex to give life to the land

Unfortunately the words were not sufficiently complex to give life, much less meaning, to that little rant.

buwaya puti said...

Never liked Mailer.
He made his reputation in "The Naked and the Dead" as THE WWII novel. But it just seemed self indulgent and deliberately writerly to me. Like this bit, but moreso.
A truer novel, written in a very Joseph Conrad style, that was one of the "Novels of WWII" that Mailers was up against - "Away All Boats" - Dodson.
Forgotten now. There aint no justice.

Owen said...

All writing is narcissistic. All Left writing is narcissistic (squared).

Norman Mailer was having the ultimate solipsistic blowout there. And getting paid for it. With full reimbursement for his hotel room and breakfast for whomever he had picked up!

Result: great literature.

mockturtle said...

Mailer was vastly overrated. He survived on controversy, not literary talent.

virgil xenophon said...

@buwaya puti/

"Away All Boats" was also made into a pretty good movie ( 1956) starring Jeff Chandler..

mccullough said...

Mailer's writing style tries mightily to mask his mediocre mind.

Big Mike said...

That was written almost 50 years ago? A little on the purple side but seems true today.

coupe said...

The only good books written in the 20th Century, were written by people born in the 19th Century, and not yet affected by the Federal Reserve System. That system changed America from trust in God to God in trust.

"Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth." -- Alan Greenspan on the evils of leaving the gold standard.

Basil said...

Love the drugs tag because this crap could only be written while on drugs.

Never understood the appeal of Mailer or the hippie, Fascist left.

They should all move to Venezuela and work as government forced labor in the fields.

cubanbob said...

The Left is like a cancer that can be excised at times, put into remission at times but it always resurrects itself and inevitably if untreated leads to disaster.

mikee said...

I prefer Hunter S. Thompson's description:

“It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant...

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.”

― Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

mockturtle said...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Jupiter said...

"For certain the world could not be saved by technology or government or genetics, and much of the Left had that still to learn."

Mailer writes as if he did not know that the salvation of the world by government is the whole of the program of the Left. Which is why the Politicization of Everything is the preferred tactic of the Left. Everything that is, is wrong. And only government -- in the right hands -- can fix it.

I suspect that Mailer actually knew this. In another context, he mocked Leftist political theory as the "sound-as-brickwork logic of the next step". He had seen the academic Left up close, and knew their mendacious opportunism well. His engagement with politics was not due to any high hopes for the outcome, but to his macho inability to witness any conflict without wanting to get involved. He would have liked to climb into the ring with Frazier and Ali.

Susan said...

In every age the intelligentsia believe they have invented Awesome. That no one will ever do it better and that no one will ever do it the same. Only the second part is true because they are the ones defining Awesome.

Sooner than they expect they will be yelling at the kids to get off their Awesome lawn. But the kids are on a different lawn called something else and don't give a rat's behind about their old people lawn.

Right now there are a lot of elitists who want Trump, Bernie, Jill and all their supporters to either finish mowing or get off the lawn.

They are yelling at an empty yard.



Jupiter said...

Mailer's projection of his complicated inner dialogue onto events of considerably greater importance gets tedious after a while. But I would love to read what Mailer in his prime would have had to say about Hillary Rodham Clinton, as potential President, and, God help us, as a woman.

Saint Croix said...

the Left had not yet learned to talk across the rugged individualism of the more rugged in America

Gary Johnson is going to have to fight and crawl and climb the mountain to 15% in whatever opinion polls decide these damn things, and then get on the debate stage. And when you do, Mr. Johnson, you know Donald Trump is going to call you a pothead. Pothead! I see this insult a mile off. And I am telling you, sir, do not call him a "pussy" like you did on the Libertarian debate stage. The little old ladies in my church do not like that.

I already had one little old lady give me the stink eye in Bible study. And I don't remember if she accused me of voting for Donald Trump, but I definitely got the stink eye. And I said, in perhaps a voice that's too loud for Bible study, "I am voting for Gary Johnson!" I know we're Libertarians but we also need to have steely resolve and an ability to bite our tongue.

Also your vice president nominee is a jackal, I might have mentioned that before. "He likes fundraising, I don't." Also he likes stabbing babies in the middle of birth. And he thinks a corporation is a person and a baby is not one. When Mitt Romney says he wishes the roles were reversed in the Libertarian election, so he could vote for William Weld and not the pothead, it makes me happy all over again that I never put a Mitt Romney bumper sticker on my car. When I say Libertarian I do not actually mean "squishy wishy corrupt man who hates Republicans." Do you actually need gobs of cash, Gary Johnson? Why don't you work on your tweeting skills. Also your debate skills.

Paul Snively said...

Hunter S. Thompson: It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run...

This reminds me of a quote, I think also published here by Dr. Althouse, from Paul Kantner.

Ah, here it is:

“The whole world was going through these forward steps — beautiful, amazing stuff — much of it working, much of it not working. Revolution is not the right word for it, but it was progress.”

This is the Left I can have a relationship with: something's not working for some of our fellow human beings. Let's try to change things, acknowledging that change is risky. Let's also not get all starry-eyed and delusional about the changes themselves. And let's remain focused on, and honest about, the outcomes. Call it the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Left, or something. Not the barely-disguised Communist "New Left," Black Panthers, Saul Alinsky, Weather Underground, Occupy-vandalizing-Oakland, La-Raza-assaulting-Trump-supporters violent thug Left.

Saint Croix said...

the Left was still too full of kicks and pot and the freakings of sodium amytol and orgy, the howls of electronics and LSD.

Yeah, they should have called the Summer of Love the Summer of Fucking and Baby-Killing Out in California.

Or, as Ronald Reagan might have said, "oops."

Anyway, sex is fun. Communism is bad. Speaking of mistakes from the 60's, I think the Vietnam war was a mistake. We killed a bunch of people, and then we left and the Commies killed a bunch more of their own people. And after a few decades of murder and evil shit in Vietnam, now Vietnam loves capitalism.

How did that happen? Strange!

Sooner or later the left will wake up and realize that abortion is not helping anybody. Men have to love women, women have to love men, and both men and women have to love the babies we create. As the Beatles put it, "Love is all you need." They also said "it's easy," which is kind of retarded but I'll let it slide since he got shot.

John Lennon bragged that his band was bigger than Jesus. But in 1967, the summer of love? The Monkees were bigger than you!.

Let's try not to act like a Monkee, okay? We can do better than a Monkee. Although I still like I'm a Believer.

Fernandinande said...

Basil said...
Love the drugs tag because this crap could only be written while on drugs.


“Come on, you little faggot, where’s your cojones.” It was 4:30 a.m., and a drunken Adele ­Morales Mailer was berating her drunken husband at their own party for once more playing the belligerent fool in front of the literary Establishment. His shirt already torn and his eyes wild, Norman whipped out a penknife with a two-and-half-inch blade and stabbed her.
...
High-level literary types who witnessed the stabbing got Adele safely to University Hospital for surgery. Mailer had punctured her cardiac sac. Yet nearly everyone in the know, women included, immediately focused on Norman’s fate rather than Adele’s. He was One of Us—an intellectual, not a criminal—and after all, he was three sheets to the wind.

William Chadwick said...

In the very interesting dual biography MAILER AND BUCKLEY, the author writes that in his twilight years, Mailer was not happy with the way the Left turned out.

mockturtle said...

That's right, and the murderer/author Jack Abbott was 'one of them', too.

mockturtle said...

The names Mailer and Buckley don't belong in the same sentence, much less a book title.

Unknown said...

Dear Saint,
...
I already had one little old lady give me the stink eye in Bible study. And I don't remember if she accused me of voting for Donald Trump, but I definitely got the stink eye. And I said, in perhaps a voice that's too loud for Bible study, "I am voting for Gary Johnson!"
...

Maybe you should learn how to raise one eyebrow. Try it sometime, it works.

Jupiter said...

Saint Croix said...

"And after a few decades of murder and evil shit in Vietnam, now Vietnam loves capitalism.

How did that happen? Strange!"

Nothing strange about it. While many Socialists believe some or all of the claptrap they peddle, they are always easy meat for the real Socialists, for whom the supposed concern for the welfare of others is merely a useful tool in the struggle to secure power. Once they have power, they arrange things so as to assure their own welfare. China is supposedly a Socialist country.

Jupiter said...

mockturtle said...
"The names Mailer and Buckley don't belong in the same sentence, much less a book title."

They both ran for Mayor of New York City.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Moral and natural imperatives. Go forth and reconcile.

Denying individual dignity, debasing human life, and establishing a pro-choice (i.e. selective) religious/moral philosophy are premeditated failures with insidious motives.

William Chadwick said...

You might actually want to read the book, mockturtle, and then make your judgment after the fact.

Otto said...

Ann this little, gutless, overrated,bisexual malcontent is (was) your idol?

David said...

He left out the part about grabbing firm control of academia and suppressing all ideologies not congenial to them. That has been an extremely effective technique.

David said...

"Ann this little, gutless, overrated,bisexual malcontent is (was) your idol?"

Mailer was not very tall but hardly gutless. Check his war record. He was indeed a malcontent and may have been bisexual, but mostly he liked women, and had no problem attracting them. Overrated? Compared to what, and by whom? He was a fine writer. He may end up largely forgotten, like many fine writers. But that does not mean he wasn't good

Night Owl said...

Far too many adults seem to prefer to think like children who believe in fairy-tales. With a childish lack of introspection, they can't and don't connect their own failings to the ruined lives they see around them. Instead, they prefer to believe that they are one of the good and just, and all the sorrows and suffering they see are due to the "evil" of their "wicked" opponents. They seem to actually believe that, like in a fairy-tale, once the wicked die in a fire the good and just will live happily ever after.

The lyrical quotes of Mailer and Thompson above are evocative and moving (to some of us). But the minds which produced those works of art must've (or should've) known that the real world is not a fairy-tale and there is no happily ever after. The problems plaguing mankind have no easy solutions-- some indeed are unsolvable due to the fallibility of man himself. Republicans and Democrats alike will fail in their attempts to "solve" the problems, and thus a little humility from everyone would be wise.

But instead there is a pervasive sneering smugness with regards to politics-- which means in regards to everything, because everything has become politicized. You never see humility, never hear contrition, because so many people have convinced themselves they are never wrong. That never ends well.

Night Owl said...

Paul Snively said:

"This is the Left I can have a relationship with: something's not working for some of our fellow human beings. Let's try to change things, acknowledging that change is risky. Let's also not get all starry-eyed and delusional about the changes themselves. And let's remain focused on, and honest about, the outcomes. Call it the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Left, or something. Not the barely-disguised Communist "New Left," Black Panthers, Saul Alinsky, Weather Underground, Occupy-vandalizing-Oakland, La-Raza-assaulting-Trump-supporters violent thug Left. "


Well said.

Otto said...

"was not very tall" - Mailer was about 5 feet tall.

"check out his war record" - "After graduating in 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Hoping to gain a deferment from service, Mailer argued that he was writing an "important literary work" which pertained to the war.[3] This deferral was denied, and Mailer was forced to enter the Army. After training at Fort Bragg, Mailer was stationed in the Philippines with the 112th Cavalry.[4] During his time in the Philippines, Mailer worked as a cook and saw little combat.

"Women were attracted to Mailer" - I guess so even Ann fell under his spell from what she says. No accounting for taste.

"fine writer" - Only time will tell.So far time has not been kind.

mockturtle said...

Snively has it right. The problem is that most of our elected officials have an ideological agenda that supersedes any desire to solve real problems. That, along with the special interests that must be appeased, stalls any real progress.

Night Owl said...

mockturtle said:

"The problem is that most of our elected officials have an ideological agenda that supersedes any desire to solve real problems. "

True.

Problems will get redefined in a way that they become "solvable" within the framework of their ideology; for ex. the left defines the problems within minority communities to be primarily the result of "white privilege",(aka racism). When the definition of a problem is not reflective of the complex reality, the solution will yield "unexpected" results. (We see a lot of unexpected outcomes today). But instead of acknowledging their mistakes policy-makers, blinkered by their ideology, will double-down on their failures, often making things worse and hurting those they wanted to help. (The Dems get away with this more than the GOP, because we have a corrupt media that will downplay Dem failures. The GOP are confronted with their failures on the front page of the NYTimes.)

The rise of social media has only exacerbated the problem of ideological polarization. People retreat to their camps, unfriend those they disagree with and never subject themselves to opposing viewpoints. Reconciliation between parties becomes impossible when neither side thinks the other side has anything worth listening to. Things get progressively worse instead of better, while corruption is allowed to run rampant in an ever expanding, complex, and unaccountable govt. leviathan; but most people don't care about the corruption since we are too consumed with hating each other.

"That, along with the special interests that must be appeased, stalls any real progress."

Again I agree. The "special interests" are the seeds of the corruption that grows in the govt.

rcocean said...

If you're old enough, you can probably remember how highly praised Mailer was in the early 80s. He was then a literary GIANT. And it was hard to find any accurate, real, information about him.

In the ear;u 1980s, he was usually described as WWII combat Vet. And the fact that he was a Marxist, New Yorker of Russian-Jewish parents and a Harvard Grad was hard to find.

Reading Mailer's writings about politics its hard not to remember Buckley's comment about Elanor Roosevelt spreading a squid like ink of directionless feeling over issue she discussed.

Mailer never stopped being a Marxist/Leftist no matter how rich he became. But he often wrote in "code" and seemed more interested in nice "poetical" sounding words then in clear meaning.

rcocean said...

I should state that as a Harvard Grad in Engineering, he probably could have stayed out out of the Service all together. But he wanted to be an writer, and decided it would be good "material" if he saw some combat. According to his letters to his Mom, and who knows how accurate they are, he wasn't just a cook abut a clerk assigned to Battalion HQ, who volunteered to go on several reconnaissance patrols. Which probably accounts for the NAKED AND THE DEAD having some good parts.

Saint Croix said...

Thank you, Unknown.

I can't keep all the damn Unknowns straight on this blog, I swear.

I'm calling you Unknown Unknown #6!

Saint Croix said...

Also it turns out I won't be voting for Gary Johnson.

The disdain that all three of these wannabe Caesars have for Christ upsets me.

Tell us again how free exercise is a "black hole." This from the guy who doesn't know what a person is, what a baby is, or what a homicide looks like!

Free love hippie-dippie pothead. Vote for me, I'm so stoned!

The good news is that American society is so demoralized than no hippies are going to shower, shave, and knock on my door telling me to vote for Gary Johnson. Congratulations on the pot culture, Gary. Success, buddy!

Paul Snively said...

Saint Croix: I can't keep all the damn Unknowns straight on this blog, I swear.

I'm calling you Unknown Unknown #6!


There are, of course, known Unknowns. Then there are the Unknown Unknowns.

Unknown said...

Well, Jon Ericson was calling me Unknown 69, but as a Prisoner fan, who am I to reject "Number 6?"

mikee said...

Unknown Unknown #^, I think you should have been a #2, re The Prisoner.

Paul Snively said...

"Who is Unknown #1?"

"You are, Unknown #6."

Unknown said...

Paul-Yes, yes, it was a comma all along!

Mikee-hey! :(

"I was their Number one son, but they treated me like Number Two" - Oswald Cobblepot

Paul Snively said...

Who knew that #6 was the inspiration for Culture Club's smash hit, "Comma Chameleon?"