August 1, 2012

"Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge..."

"... all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."

Wrote Gore Vidal, who reached the end of his enough yesterday. He was 86.

Here's a late interview (with al Jazeera), where he makes himself cry — at 2:23 — saying, about Americans — "They're the greatest nation in the world in the world." And then "Everybody says that, that's why they keep shooting us.... That's jealousy." And then recovers and says "This is irony, you know."



ADDED: Here he is calling William F. Buckley a "crypto Nazi"... and also:
Consider his "incorrigible" mother, a sometime actress who "failed a Paramount screen test because of the prominence of her manly mustache." Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt had a mad Sapphic crush on Amelia Earhart and was "constantly proposing" that they fly around the country, "with Amelia at the controls"?....

Asked to define commercialism, Vidal remarks, "It's the ability to do well what ought not to be done at all." Bobby Kennedy had "aggressive non-charm." The '60s: "a decade stolen from those of us who were living in it." And he doesn't turn away from the wit of others. Like Tennessee Williams, who stares at Jack Kennedy and mutters, "That boy has a nice ass."
What's the story with Amelia Earhart? Vidal's Wikipedia page says: "according to biographer Susan Butler, was the great love of Amelia Earhart's life."

46 comments:

David said...

Some good books. Burr was wonderful. A man before his time, gay-wise. Smug. Smart. Funny. Class conscious. Upper class all the way. Very New York.

Colonel Angus said...

I confess I still wish Buckley had really punched Gore in his mouth.

Gore Viral was a nasty person. I certainly won't miss him.

Mark said...

You need to add a few words to the passage about Amelia Earhart if you want it to make sense. Based on the Wikipedia page I think you mean to say that Vidal's father was the love of Earhart's life, according to Vidal.

stewati said...

Glad I didn't learn history from this man....what a hateful shmuck.

Craig said...

Myron is the name of a 1974 novel by Gore Vidal. It was written as a sequel to his 1968 bestseller Myra Breckinridge. The novel was published shortly after an anti-pornography ruling by the Supreme Court; Vidal responded by replacing the profanity in his novel with the names of the Justices involved (e.g., "He thrust his enormous Rehnquist deep within her Whizzer White", etc.)

Marshal said...

He comes across as angry his literary success didn't result him the exalted status he felt it should. Except among the kneelers of course.

Greg Hlatky said...

Vidal on Roman Polanski's abuse victim: "I really don’t give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?" He made Ezra Pound look rational by comparison. His death just made my day.

ricpic said...

Vidal and Mailer were both enormous literary big deals to their peers and yet what did they amount to? a big nothing. Compare to Hemingway/Fitzgerald. 'Nuff said.

Palladian said...

Vidal was an irritant, like a pebble in one's shoe; the subject of much attention until removed, then totally forgotten.

dbp said...

" Like Tennessee Williams, who stares at Jack Kennedy and mutters, "That boy has a nice ass.""

I think the line would be better if he stares at Jackie Kennedy from behind and notes that he has a great ass.

Jake Diamond said...

Gore Viral was a nasty person. I certainly won't miss him.

Glad I didn't learn history from this man....what a hateful shmuck.

Before this gets out of hand, let's review what respectful Althouse readers wrote when Breitbart died:

And watch the "tolerant" people at Daily Kos go wild with hate-filled bile.

There are times ... when it is best to shut up.

Seems to me that one can recognize passions that one exhibits--I give you Senator Wellstone, whose politics I abhored; and Senator Kennedy whose politics and personal life I abhored--but when they die, the appropriate response is to wish the requiste in pacem, and let it go. Wish the family members condolences. the political issues can be taken up later. Is there no humanity left in our discourse--apparently not. A sad commentary on our humanity.

Stay classy, Althouse readers!

Palladian said...

Speaking of inconsequential, rock-like irritants...

chickelit said...

He was a portlymanteau of Al Gore and Vidal Sassoon: all the bloviance and twice the fluff and body.

Good riddance.

Colonel Angus said...

I don't feel compelled to silence my opinion due to the death of an individual. If so, then don't bother making his death noteworthy.

Roman said...

The world is a better place today.

traditionalguy said...

Gore had a talent for stirring up opponents with well crafted words exposing a weakness in them.

I suppose he liked starting confrontations in which he could usually have the last word.

But all of that proves is that "All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players:they have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts..."

But Gore wanted more attention to his special role than Shakespeare's vision allowed to men.

No wonder he confronted the Hebrew God's revelation that anything has an eternal significance...why that could outshine Gore Vidal's role in the script.

ndspinelli said...

ricpic "You are correct, sir."

Chase said...

The world is a better place this morning.

Given great talents by his creator, Vidal chose instead to use them for the furtherance of evil and hatred and became a bitter man, shedding no light in the world, a "beacon" of blindness and confusion. His choices and contributions were not neutral but wicked and devastatingly hateful.

His creator is surely paying him in kind.

Today is truly a day for celebration.

MayBee said...

Gore Vidal understood and related to Tim McVeigh's motivations.

dbp said...

Gore Vidal was pretty good in GATTACA.

Freeman Hunt said...

Sheesh. Nearly everyone seems to have woken up a little ghoulish today.

Marshal said...

"Jake Diamond said...

Stay classy, Althouse readers!"

Missed Jake's admonition to Yglesias among others who cheered Breitbart's death. So while some here might not meet his standard of "class", we know he's a hypocrite.

chickelit said...

Pride falleth before ire

Chuck said...

Wow; just think how that confrontation in 1968 presaged the future of television in the cable era. It is surprising that the big three networks resisted it for so long.

edutcher said...

What the Colonel said.

In spades.

We loved watching Buckley and Vidal go at it during the '68 Conventions, but, Buckley had every right to be mad.

creeley23 said...

Whatever else, Gore Vidal was a remarkable, prolific writer. I preferred his essays, and he wrote many, though when I read them I was quite progressive. I tried his novels but found those books mostly dull and overwritten. Myra Breckinridge probably wasn't, but that was so long ago I remember the Raquel Welch cover more vividly than the book.

There was one exceptional novel, Messiah (1954), which told the story of John Cave, a modern-day Jesus Christ whose gospel was literally suicide. Cave draws a tight band of apostles around him and together their movement becomes the dominant religion of the future. Messiah was one of the creepiest books I ever read.

Caedmon said...

To borrow a line from Churchill:
"The sort of chap who gives sodomy a bad name."

Chip Ahoy said...

This is an outstanding interview. I do like his books. Hard as he is to take, I find him much easier to take than modern imitations. The aching cynicism in every line, the attribution of worst instincts and motives to everybody is somehow easier to take compared with the half-assed versions that are only half cynical and half not cynical at all, and only half baked. You get the sense, I get the sense here, he's sitting on a massive hemorrhoid large as his whole backside. Didn't know about the leg. Didn't know about a lot of that. Didn't know about most of it. Very good interviewer, although I despise that little symbol down there, I have to admit that guy was good. He seemed genuinely interested in his subject. The interviewer did, whoever that is. The subject seems even more obnoxious with age as if every breath must be an obnoxious breath and in case you missed that, he'll explain to you he had just been obnoxious because he does not like you.

Liar.

He lived for our opinion of him. My opinion, I kind of like the guy.

Chip Ahoy said...

The thing that makes him such a colossal liar is that he states if he would change one thing it'd be his nationality. Very clever. Hardeeharhar. Get on with it then or shut up, he made his choice, made it again, and as people do, made it again a chose to die here. The worst place on Earth. Obviously the first choice, the worst place on Earth, for a man who would prefer to be left alone. The interview itself gives the lie to most that he was saying.

Those people who really do want that and think that and believe that simply live somewhere else and keep to themselves.

rhhardin said...

Amerlia Earhart was the John Denver of women's aviation.

Mitch H. said...

Let's see, if I recall correctly: he hated democracy, felt that the country was never quite the same after the isolationists lost the pre-war argument over foreign policy, and turned into a massive Truther after 9/11.

Why say anything awful about him? His biography is philippic enough to shame three men of his stature.

Well, ok, just one for Jake Diamond: if Vidal thought it important to make the most of the present world since there would be none to come, why is it that everything he did and said tended to make his one and only world uglier, meaner, and more degraded?

Rich B said...

I had forgotten that he was still alive (at least a few days ago).

Pastafarian said...

When the interviewer asks him what his most significant contribution to literature is, this is what Vidal days:

"Well, City and the Pillar..."

Then there's a long pause, and Vidal appears to remember to whom he's speaking -- al Jazeera, mouthpiece for a fanatical murderous movement violently opposed to homosexuality.

So what does he say next? Does he explain that it's important because it's the first novel to deal openly with homosexuality? Does he confront the representative of al Jazeera for stoning and hanging of homosexuals?

This, dear reader, is how the intrepid Vidal continues:

"...that opened up a vista that nobody had gazed upon before…and uh….."

LONG pause…

“…well, I made things happen that had not happened before.”

And that's all I have to say about that, he implies, by moving on to the next topic.

As for refraining from speaking ill of the dead: Vidal forfeited his right to that courtesy when he pronounced upon William F Buckley's death: "RIP WFB -- in hell."

ed said...

Shorter Gore Vidal:

There is no cosmic point to Gore Vidal's life.

chickelit said...

rhhardin said...
Amerlia Earhart was the John Denver of women's aviation.

??

You mean because he hoarded fuel? Wouldn't that make her the opposite?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

August 21, 1968

"Bill, dear--

I have so much to tell you--aren't you ever coming out here? Do you have to go to Chicago with Mr. Vidal? If so, I hope you take your bulletproof vest..."

Lots of love,
Nancy (Reagan)

The Reagan I Knew by WFB

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"A Constitution is made for people of fundamentally different views."

J. O. W. Holmes

Jake Diamond said...

As for refraining from speaking ill of the dead: Vidal forfeited his right to that courtesy when he pronounced upon William F Buckley's death: "RIP WFB -- in hell."

Courtesy is a right? Who the fuck knew?

SMGalbraith said...

Mr. Vidal was a vicious anti-semite - not simply a critic of Israel. He called the mass murderer Timothy McVeigh a "noble boy" and went around the world telling folks that the US government allowed 9/11 to happen.

And oh yeah, FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to be attacked too.

Are we supposed to overlook this garbage?

The man wrote some brilliant essays. The few books I read by him were awful.

But he was an ugly mean little man who disseminated lies and slanders that cannot be overlooked because of his literary skills.

May he rest in peace. Perhaps the children blown apart by Mr. McVeigh are having a conversation with him.

chickelit said...

But he was an ugly mean little man who disseminated lies and slanders that cannot be overlooked because of his literary skills.

And here I thought we were supposed to overlook all that because he was gay. Thanks for the correction.

RIP

rcocean said...

Sorry to see him go, but he was a very mixed bag. He never let truth get in the way of a good story or logic overrule his emotions. His political and social views were a crazy patchwork of WASP liberalism, populism, atheism, stylish quips, and contrariness. He was the ultimate triumph of style over substance. Yet he was often right.

I think he'll be forgotten rather quickly - just like Mailer, Capote, and Sontag. Giants in the 60s, they now seem faded and completely dated.

William said...

Years ago I read some of his essays. They were well written and witty, but, I would guess, written more to shock and amuse than persuade. Anyway, I read them so he succeeded in every writer's first aim--to be read....I get the sense that he had outlived his talent. His later pronouncements seemed not just controversial but weird and crazy......He never tried to be liked. That wasn't a function of his courage. He was born wealthy and well placed, and he didn't have to please rubes like you.

Methadras said...

I hope he's rotting in hell, piece of shit.

Robert Cook said...

"There was one exceptional novel, Messiah (1954), which told the story of John Cave, a modern-day Jesus Christ whose gospel was literally suicide. Cave draws a tight band of apostles around him and together their movement becomes the dominant religion of the future. Messiah was one of the creepiest books I ever read."

A great book. I read it only last year, one of two of Vidal's novels I have read. The other is KALKI, about the head of a religious cult who predicts the imminent end of the world. Highly recommended!

Robert Cook said...

Pastafarian said:

When the interviewer asks him what his most significant contribution to literature is, this is what Vidal days:

"Well, City and the Pillar..."

Then there's a long pause, and Vidal appears to remember to whom he's speaking -- al Jazeera, mouthpiece for a fanatical murderous movement violently opposed to homosexuality.

So what does he say next? Does he explain that it's important because it's the first novel to deal openly with homosexuality? Does he confront the representative of al Jazeera for stoning and hanging of homosexuals?

This, dear reader, is how the intrepid Vidal continues:

"...that opened up a vista that nobody had gazed upon before…and uh….."

LONG pause…

“…well, I made things happen that had not happened before.”

And that's all I have to say about that, he implies, by moving on to the next topic.


There is ample discussion in the interview of Vidal's own homosexuality and of his treatment of homosexuality in his writing. Your attempt here to depict Vidal as cowardly or otherwise unwilling to be frank about the topic is a big FAIL.

DBetti said...

The headline quote is nonsense. If there is no point in this cosmos, then there is no such thing as balance. What is balance if not some kind of equal distribution of force along a plane that rests on a point or points?

What a foolish thing to write.