_


  • Marccooper5_1

Back To Home Page

« A Modest Proposal | Main | Miller Time(s) »

Monday, October 17, 2005

Comments

Freddy the Pig

Yes, I've read City and the Pillar; it's no Myra Breckinridge and went unmentioned by me because it doesn't demand reading, not because I had no idea it existed.

Actually, I found his memoir a bit redundant to Myra Breckinridge too, saying many of the same things in an, ahem, straighter way; and I couldn't help but wonder how much of the stuff about Jimmy and the torch he had for him was a clever literary conceit. (Poor Howard if it wasn't.)

I dunno, I agree that Vidal has strong philosophical reasons for avoiding standard issue post-1968 Stonewall gay identity, but I also think he simply belongs to a generation which, even when openly gay on the cocktail circuit, wasn't when it came to what you called yourself in Life magazine. His gay identity is out of step with, say, Larry Kramer's in-your-face gayness because it's far more similar to Somerset Maugham's or Noel Coward's discreet openness.

reg

Marc...be honest. While I think that Vidal is an asset to The Nation from a publisher's perspective (who wouldn't want that classy, upscale byline on a cover story?), do his contributions amplify or dilute those aspects of the mag that can drive you crazy ? For me, while I'm always happy as a reader to see an article by someone who can write circles around even the best of the rest, Vidal's content generally tends to reinforce my impulse to keep much of the magazine's knee-jerk lefty politics at arms length.

Michael Crosby

I recall thinking when Buckley challenged Vidal, that (1) who was queerer than whom? and (2) I would have bet lots of money on Vidal in that fight. Is Vidal "queer"? Well, he writes in his memoir of sleeping with Anais Nin...which should count for something.

Even when Vidal takes what sounds at first listen to be an outrageous position, I give it a lot of consideration. Partly that's because he is very smart, but mostly because most of what he has written about American history demonstrates a feeling for democracy and a sense for what America means and where it is headed.

Back to the hypothetical concerning Bush in colonial times, there seems to be an assumption that he would have been a supporter of the revolution. I doubt that very seriously. I expect that he and the folks would have been Tories who might have sat the revolution out, and might have moved back to England (Texas being a rough trip at the time). If they didn't move back, they probably would have tried to create the appearance of neutrality, betraying sentiments consistent with those of whomever they were speaking with at the time.

reg

That take on the Bush family is consistent with the perspective of another old-school conservative's who's studied them in depth, Kevin Phillips.

Kevin

I'm sorry, I guess the HA! didn't make it clear enough: It Was a Joke. I don't think Woody is a fascist, crypto or otherwise.

Woody

Don't worry, Kevin. I got it as soon as I realized that was a term invented and used by Vidal, and it didn't bother me, anyway. I'm a shortstop.

marky48

In "Burr" he said matter-of-factly my ancestor's boats on the Arnold expedition "sank like stones." Hilarious hyperbole, but true to a point. I've written a whole book in defense that hope will find a publisher soon. Vidal is a true artist with an all encompassing knowledge of history.

richard lo cicero

If you want to despise the Angels, Marc, that's your right. But I would just note that a few years ago Jimmy Breslin, Roger Kahn and Pete Hamill each put down on a piece of paper the three worst indivisuals of the 20th Century. Their lists were identical:
Adolf Hitler
Joe Stalin
Walter O'Malley
Point being what he did to Brooklyn was a crime against humanity. I used to feel strongly about the Blue crew in the age of Koufax and Drysdale but that ended with the faux patriotism of Tom Lasorda and the rise of one of the most boring teams in baseball. I've followed the Angels since their birth and have suffered, and cheered, their many twists and turns. I also follow the Yankees, my father's team - as it was the team of most Italian Americans since the days of the Great Dimaggio. The only thing I have in common with Giuliani. And then there are the Red Sox. So call me fickle. But the Dodgers? They can lose 162 in a row as far as I'm concerned.

marky48

And yes the Bush ancestors were Tories. You'll recall that group had a bit of trouble with the founders. My ancestor too.

richard lo cicero

Oh, by the way, Gore Vidal was a scion of the social and political elites of this country while William F. Bukeley's roots trace to a sheriff in South Taxas who got rich. Not the same thing. Vidal had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. His father- Eugene Vidal - was the head of civil aviation for FDR. And his namesake - Thomas Gore - was a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. Vidal is a man of the Wasp Establishment of this country which informs all of his views. His regrets come from one who considers himself one of the country's owners and is quite disappointed as to what the tenants have done with the property.

Marc Cooper

RLC: some further clarification on Vidal's roots. He had a patrician family but no money (he was dead broke at age 23 after his first 3 novels and went into tv to make some real bucks). His grandfather, the Senator, was a blind Oklahoma Populist who fought for Indians and farmers and battled the railroads and the military draft. He was an initial supporter of FDR and then lost his seat in 1936 or 37 after too much feuding with the popular Prez. The old man was worried that the New Deal would over-centralize federal power.
Gore Vidal's cousin, by the way, is Al Gore; someone who, to the best of my knowledge, he has never met!

Virgil Johnson

Richard, I find myself at odd's with anyone who voices a satisfaction of where our country presently finds itself. Whether it be from a sense of ownership or not, it matters little.

Unfortunately, studying past history has a way of making everyone view themselves as being objective - and past history makes us all fool ourselves that we are experts with hindsight. To be fair, if you have read Mr. Vidal's works, you find both insight and impact on how it effected common men - not merely the main actors, elite or not.

Presently, I see us as a people who have squandered our heritage. However, make no mistake - it is a heritage steeped in the blood of innocents, and it shows all the signs presently of reproducing this throughout the world. There are things that history never seems to teach us, but at least there is a slight chance of aborting further atrocity by being a student of what has gone before - I am greatful to Gore Vidal for this.

reg

Okay, I listened to the entire interview and found it quite entertaining. His grasp of American history is powerful, he's extremely erudite, periodically insightful and wickedly funny, but I can't say it tempered my opinion that Vidal is something of a crank. He was actually a bit more "eccentric" than I expected. I think he could give Mailer some serious competiton in the sterling silver hat department (tin foil will not do for literary lions of this caliber .) That said, at 80 his intellect and eloquence are still mighty impressive and he's clearly earned his stripes. One of the most difficult feats in surviving that long would be not ending up a terminal bore, and there appears to be in no liklihood of that for Mr. Vidal.

Marc Cooper

Reg... thanks for listening to the whole thing (later this week I will post an edited text for those with less patience).

reg

Christ, Marc...thank YOU for doing these things and letting us in on the fun.

David Ehrenstein

"Discreet openness"? Oh Prunella! have you read "Myra Breckinridge" Marc? How about it's fabulous sequel, "Myron." ? Anumber of years ago Vidal was interviewed by a marvelous little paper called "Fag Rag." You can find a reprint in Volume one of "Gay Sunshine Interviews." Vidal dishes the "dirt" in grand style. A whole movie could be made about his war with Truman Capote (an E.F. Benson novel on speed) but a Vidal equivalent to Phillip Seymour Hoffman woudl be required.

Vidla has every right to be bitter. He warned us about characters like Bush for years -- and we didn't listen.

Woody

If you warn the world about everyone, sooner or later you'll be right about one. Someone that attacks the range of Capote to Bush paints with a broad brush.

reg

"If you warn the world about everyone, sooner or later you'll be right about one"

I hate to admit this degree of cynicism, Woody, but if we're talking about public figures and politicians, I'd rephrase that to "If you warn the world about everyone, pretty soon you'll be right about most of them."

"Discreet openness"? Oh Prunella! have you read "Myra Breckinridge" Marc"

And yet if you read his interviews back then he was very cagey about his own life*-- even as, obviously, he wrote some of the flamingest literature of the day. Around the time of Palimpsest, he seemed to change how he talked about it; but before you could never get a straight, so to speak, answer out of him, he resisted being pigeonholed as a "gay writer" by the popular press, I suspect guessing rightly that it wouldn't exactly help sales of his historical fiction to the crowd that read Michener and John Jakes (and there's another amusing story, but...)

* One droll example from the early 70s: there was a book called "The First Time" that asked celebrities to describe their first sex experience via a standard questionnaire. To the question "Was it with a man or a woman?" Vidal's splendidly evasive-yet-evocative answer was, "I was too polite to ask."

Freddy the Pig

Oops, that was moi above.

marky48

Hunter Thompson warned of these same politicians. He was right too.

David Ehrenstein

Well I just finished listening to the interview. Good work, Marc. Of course it was much too short. Can't get enough Gore! Most fascinating for the buttons he chooses not to push. 9/11 was incompetence rather than guile. Very astute. Amd his decades-long war with the NYT mkaes Judy no surprise to him at all. Nice contextualization.

Glad to hear him use the term "same sexuality."

Woody

I may have this figured out. What connects Truman Capote and George Bush is that Gore Vidal thinks that they both suck.

marky48

More KPO keen (perception of the obvious) Imagine it, vompetition between two promnent gay authors. I'm shocked.

marky48

It's a new word: vomped.

The comments to this entry are closed.