Doodlebug Anklebiter Is a Very Sad Goblin aka Gore Vidal is Dead


Books


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Alexander Cockburn last week, Gore Vidal last night.

It's a bad time to be a favorite writer of mine.

:(


:( indeed


Even m'lord Dice has lowered the flag to half-mast in observance.


"The man and the woman make love; attain climax; fall separate. Then she whispers, 'I'll tell you who I was thinking of if you'll tell me who you were thinking of.' Like most sex jokes, the origins of this pleasant exchange are obscure. But whatever the source, it seldom fails to evoke a certain awful recognition, since few lovers are willing to admit that in the sexual act to create or maintain excitement they may need some mental image as erotic supplement to the body in attendance. One perverse contemporary maintains that when he is with A he thinks of B and when he is with B he thinks of A; each attracts him only to the degree that he is able simultaneously to evoke the image of the other. Also, for those who find the classic positions of "mature" lovemaking unsatisfactory yet dare not distress the beloved with odd requests, sexual fantasy becomes inevitable and the shy lover soon finds himself imposing mentally all sorts of wild images upon his unsuspecting partner, who may also be relying on an inner theater of the mind to keep things going; in which case, those popular writers who deplore "our lack of communication today" may have a point. Ritual and magic also have their devotees. In one of Kingsley Amis's fictions, a man mentally conjugates Latin verbs in order to delay orgasm as he waits chivalrously for his parter's predictably slow response. While another considerate lover (nonfictional) can only reduce tempo by thinking of a large loaf of sliced white bread, manufactured by Bond.

"Sexual fantasy is as old as civilization (as opposed to as old as the race), and one of its outward and visible signs is pornographic literature, an entirely middle-class phenomenon, since we are assured by many investigators (Kinsey, Pomeroy, et al.) that the lower orders seldom rely upon sexual fantasy for extra-stimulus. As soon as possible, the uneducated man goes for the real thing. Consequently he seldom masturbates, but when he does he thinks, we are told, of nothing at all. This may be the last meaningful class distinction in the West.

"Nevertheless, the sex-in-the-head middle classes that D.H. Lawrence so despised are not the way they are because they want deliberately to be cerebral and anti-life; rather they are innocent victims of necessity and tribal law. For economic reasons they must delay marriage as long as possible. For tribal reasons, they are taught that sex outside marriage is wrong. Consequently the man whose first contact with a woman occurs when he is twenty will have spent the sexually most vigorous period of his life masturbating. Not unnaturally, in order to make that solitary act meaningful, the theater of his mind early becomes a Dionysian festival, and should he be a resourceful dramatist he may find actual lovemaking disappointing when he finally gets to it, as Bernard Shaw did. One wonders whether Shaw would have been a dramatist at all if he had first made love to a girl at fourteen, as nature intended, instead of at twenty-nine, as class required. Here, incidentally, is a whole new line of literary-psychological inquiry suitable for the master's degree: "Characteristics of the Onanist as Dramatist." Late coupling and prolonged chastity certainly help explain much of the rich dottiness of those Victorians whose peculiar habits planted thick many a quiet churchyard with Rose La Touches."

--from "Pornography," 1966.

I might take issue with a line here or there, but, Hee hee!

Silver Crusade

He strikes me as a fascinating guy.

If I wanted to get into his writing, where would one suggest I begin?

Sovereign Court

Celestial Healer wrote:

He strikes me as a fascinating guy.

If I wanted to get into his writing, where would one suggest I begin?

On Front Row last night, Harold Bloom and Christopher Bigsby recommended Lincoln and Myra Breckinridge. I've never read him but that obituary made me want to and I added those to my reading list.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

There are some who prefer Vidal as a novelist and those that prefer him as an essayist. Although I greatly enjoyed many of his novels, I'm in the latter camp.

Bibliography

I'm going to be putting up more quotes from United States which is his most comprehensive collection (over 1,000 pages!) of essays. It is by no means complete.

I read three of the four pamphlets he put out under Bush II (starting with Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace) and they were pretty awesome.

The Best Man is playing again at theaters again, I hear. My sister, of all people, went and saw it.

Ben-Hur allegedly has a homoerotic subtext between Charlton Heston and Massala (?) because Gore put it there. They didn't tell Chuck. Hee hee!

On to his novels:

He wrote a series of novels about the history of the United States that I think are the bee's knees, son. Lincoln, Burr, and Empire being my faves.

Otherwise, Julian and Creation does for classical antiquity what his American series does for US history. The City and the Pillar was about hawt gay sex amongst Washington's elite young men. It got him kicked out of the respectable New York Times crowd of authors. I read it a long time ago, I don't remember much about it. Kalki was pretty bizarre but fun. I never read Myra Breckinridge but I think's it's about a transsexual and lead to William Buckley referring to him as a pornographer in the following clip...

Hee hee!

There used to be a youtube comment that read: At 0:51, Gore gets a boner!

Hee hee!


I am posting this before I've watched it--I hope it's good.

Gore Vidal and Ali G!

EDIT: "Well, the Constitution has not yet been pregnant..."

Hee hee!


I can't believe I forgot he wrote Caligula!


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:


Ben-Hur allegedly has a homoerotic subtext between Charlton Heston and Massala (?) because Gore put it there. They didn't tell Chuck. Hee hee!

Vidal admitted to telling the guy who played the other half of the duo to act like he and Ben-Hur were lovers.

I haven't seen the movie myself. The style of studio-era blockbusters grates on me. By half an hour into The Ten Commandments I was ready to decorate Egypt with the entrails of every member of the cast, most especially the women who kept repeating Moses's name in this obnoxious half-shriek that was just far enough away from a porn star moan to be nails on the chalkboard instead of funny.


I have Julian on my unread stack. I might have to bump it to the top of the pile.

Grand Lodge

Ben Hur is more memorable than most of the studio-era blockbusters. It had a great ship battle between Triremes (even if historically inaccurate) and one the best Chariot races ever captured on film. Plus Gore Vidal and other really put together a very fine script and story. It truly deserved the heap of Academy Awards it earned.

Cheers,

Mazra


Well, then.

Ben-Hur

I don't know how your taste runs in film, Samnell, but it was okay. Not as good as The Omega Man or Soylent Green, though.

You may be amused to learn that Camille Paglia named one of her weighty essays "In the Arena" specifically after B-H, so I guess you deviants and pervs have been messing with this "Tale of the Christ" for quite a while now.

Spoiler:

I hope I don't need an emoticon.


It's no Rome.


"But surely you do not favor the publishing of pornography?" When you hear someone say do not instead of don't, you know that you are either in court or on television. I was on television, being interviewed by two men--or persons, as they say nowadays. One was a conservative, representing the decent opinion of half a nation. One was a reactionary, representing the decent opinion of half a nation.

"Of coure, I favor the publishing of--"

"You favor pornography?" The reactionary was distressed, appalled, sickened.

"I said the publishing of pornography, yes..."

"But what's the difference? I mean between being in favor of publishing pornography and pornography?"

The conservative was troubled. "Whether or not I personally like or dislike pornography is immaterial." Television is a great leveler. You always end up sounding like the people who ask the questions. "The freedom to publish anything is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. That is the law. Whether you or I or anyone likes what is published is"--repetition coming up, I was tired--"is, uh, immaterial." (Doodlebug interjection: Woah, so that's where I stole that from.) "The First Amendment guarantees us the right to say and write and publish what we want..."

Before I could make the usual exemptions for libel and for the reporting of troop movements during wartime and for that man or person who falsely yells fire in a crowded theater (all absolutes are relative under the sun), the conservative struck. "But," he said, eyes agleam with what looked to be deep feeling but was actually collyrium (?), "the founders of the United States"--he paused, reverently; looked at men, sincerely; realized, unhappily, that I was staring at the lacing of his hairpiece (half the men who appear on television professionally are bald; why?). Nervously, he touched his forehead, and continued--"of America intended freedom of speech only for...uh, politics."

"But sex is politics," I began...and ended.

I got two blank stares. I might just as well have said that the Pelagian heresy will never take root in south Amish country. Neither the conservative nor the reactionary had ever heard anyone say anything like that before and I knew that I could never explain myself in the seven remaining in-depth minutes of air time. I was also distracted by that toupee. Mentally, I rearranged it. Pushed it farther back on his head. Didn't like the result. Tried it lower down. All the while, we spoke of Important Matters. I said I did not think it a good idea for people to molest children. This was disingenuous. My secret hero is the late King Herod.

--"Sex Is Politics," 1979


Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
It's no Rome.

Rome? It's no Spartacus! Nothing against Vidal, but Trumbo experienced (in spades) the red scare.


No, it's not Spartacus, either.

But that's also Kubrick vs. Wyler(--who, don't get me wrong, made some films that I like, but he ain't no Kubrick).

Also, Samnell, left over from a locked thread:

It's not a command economy, stooge, it's a planned economy!


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:


You may be amused to learn that Camille Paglia named one of her weighty essays "In the Arena" specifically after B-H, so I guess you deviants and pervs have been messing with this "Tale of the Christ" for quite a while now.

Oh definitely. We've been messing with the tale of the Christ and the Christ's tale for centuries. Who do you think painted all those hot naked guys in churches?

Speaking of tales, John Shelby Spong (holder of the one and only piece of respect Samnell has ever given a clergyman for being a clergyman) is of the opinion that Saul of Tarsis was a friend of Dorothy. The passages he quotes are certainly suggestive in their subtext.

I'm not in love with the idea, though. It makes me feel sympathetic to him and considering his ideas as a whole, sympathy is hardly warranted..


Samnell wrote:
Oh definitely. We've been messing with the tale of the Christ and the Christ's tale for centuries. Who do you think painted all those hot naked guys in churches?

It's like I'm reading Camille Paglia all over again!


This doesn't feature Gore at all, but it's frickin' hilarious.

What is up with William Buckley? Granted, I've only seen him talking to people he clearly despised, but every clip I've seen includes him hinting at violence. What a weirdo.


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

This doesn't feature Gore at all, but it's frickin' hilarious.

What is up with William Buckley? Granted, I've only seen him talking to people he clearly despised, but every clip I've seen includes him hinting at violence. What a weirdo.

So far as I can tell, behind the accent and eloquence Buckley was just always a base thug separated only by his money from your average street tough.


Samnell wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

This doesn't feature Gore at all, but it's frickin' hilarious.

What is up with William Buckley? Granted, I've only seen him talking to people he clearly despised, but every clip I've seen includes him hinting at violence. What a weirdo.

So far as I can tell, behind the accent and eloquence Buckley was just always a base thug separated only by his money from your average street tough.

How did you think we got our money to begin with, Sam?


Lord Dice wrote:
Samnell wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

This doesn't feature Gore at all, but it's frickin' hilarious.

What is up with William Buckley? Granted, I've only seen him talking to people he clearly despised, but every clip I've seen includes him hinting at violence. What a weirdo.

So far as I can tell, behind the accent and eloquence Buckley was just always a base thug separated only by his money from your average street tough.
How did you think we got our money to begin with, Sam?

By choosing the right parents, of course.


Greg Proops eulogises Gore Vidal in his Mon, 6 August 2012 Smartest Man in the World Podcast.

Warning: Greg is not to every-bodies tastes.


Samnell wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

This doesn't feature Gore at all, but it's frickin' hilarious.

What is up with William Buckley? Granted, I've only seen him talking to people he clearly despised, but every clip I've seen includes him hinting at violence. What a weirdo.

So far as I can tell, behind the accent and eloquence Buckley was just always a base thug separated only by his money from your average street tough.

At least he didn't threaten to beat up Allen Ginsberg...at least in the clips I have watched.

Which reminds me, I think GV claimed to have had a one-night stand with Kerouac. If not, it's a beautiful piece of misinformation. Hee hee!


On Rereading the Oz Books

The link is kind of a tease, but the essay is pretty good and now I want to reread the Oz books!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

"Very early, the idea of fame--eternal fame--afflicted our race. But fame for the individual was less intense at the beginning than for one's tribe. Thucydides is often read as a sort of biographer of Pericles when, indeed he was writing the biography, to misuse the word, of their city, Athens. It is the idea of the city that the writer wants us to understand, not the domestic affairs of Pericles, which he mentions only as civic illustrations. Love had not yet been discovered as opposed to lust. Marriage was not yet a subject except for comedy (Sophocles did not care who got custody of the children, unless Medea killed them; or they were baked in a pie). For more than two millennia, from Homer to Aeschylus to Dante to Shakespeare to Tolstoi, the great line of our literature has concerned itself with gods, heroes, kings, in conflict with one another and with inexorable fate. Simultaneously, all 'round each story, whether it be that of Prometheus or of a Plantagenet prince, there is a people who need fire from heaven or land beyond the sea. Of arms and of the man, I sing, means just that. Of the people then and now, of the the hero then and his image now, as created or re-created by the poet. From the beginning, the bard, the poet, the writer was a most high priest to his people, the custodian of their common memory, the interpreter of their history, the voice of their current yearnings.

"All this stopped in the last two centuries when the rulers decided to teach the workers to read and write so that they could handle machinery. Traditionalists thought this a dangerous experiment. If the common people knew too much, might they not overthrow their masters? But the modernists, like John Stuart Mill, won. And, in due course, the people--proudly literate--overthrew their masters. We got rid of the English while the French and the Russians--ardent readers--shredded their ancient monarchies. In fact, the French--who read and theorize the most--became so addicted to political experiment that in the two centuries since our own rather drab revolution they have exuberantly produced one Directory, one Consulate, two empires, three restorations of the monarchy, and five republics. That's what happens when you take writing too seriously. Happily, Americans have never liked reading all that much. Politically ignorant, we keep sputtering along in our old Model T, looking wistfully every four years for a good mechanic."

--"Lincoln, Lincoln and the Priests of Academe", 1988


Gore Vidal: An Appreciation

Vive le Galt!


Still plugging away at Gore and hit a patch of biographical essays: TR, Grant, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. In one of those moments of synergistic weirdiosity, a couple of days later, Turin the Mad starts a Theodore Roosevelt thread!

Theodore Roosevelt: An American Sissy

Favorite parts, neither of which has anything to do with Teddy:

Years later I asked him why he [Grandpappy Senator Thomas Gore] had supported [William Jennings] Bryan, a man who had never, in my grandfather's own words, "developed. He was too famous too young. He just stopped in his thirties." So why had he nominated Bryan for president? Well, at the time there were reasons: he was vague. Then, suddenly, the pale face grew mischievous and the thin, straight Roman mouth broke into a crooked grin. "After I nominated him at Denver, we rode back to the hotel in the same carriage and he turned to me and said, 'You know, I base my political success on just three things.'" The old man paused for dramatic effect. What were they? I asked. "I've completely forgotten," he said. "But I do remember wondering why he thought he was a success."

Or how about this sentence:

The heart having its reasons, Alice [Roosevelt Longworth] saw fit to conduct a long affair with the corrupt Senator William Borah, the so-called lion of Idaho, who had once roared, "I'd rather be right than president," causing my grandfather to murmur, "Of course, he was neither."


"Mr. [Anthony] Sampson [the author of The Sovereign State of ITT, which Gore is reviewing] takes us on a swift and generally entertaining--that is to say, chilling--tour of ITT's present horizon which is the great globe itself: Avis Cars, Sheraton Hotels, Levitt towns, and now the third largest insurance company in the world; cash-in-flow is very important for a business which is in the business not of making things but of making money. I suspect that much of the nervousness the conglomerates excite in the American puritan's bosom is not so much their brutal devotion to making money as their indifference to the things that they are required to make in order to make money. Of peripheral interest are the potato chips, rental cars, dog food, insurance. What matters to Geneen (an accountant) [and head of ITT] are loans, interest rates, currency fluctuations, corporate mergers, and the avoidance of paying taxes on profits anywhere on earth. According to Senator E. Kennedy, ITT--the eighth largest American company--paid no federal American tax in 1971."

--"Conglomerates," 1973

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