One for one and none for all.
- summing up Ayn Rand's worldview, Esquire. July, 1961
This is not at all bad, except as prose.
- on a paragraph by Herman Wouk
He's a magnum of chloroform.
- on Hugh D. Auchincloss, Gore Vidal's and Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Bouvier Kennedy's stepfather; 1979 interview in Views From a Window: Conversations with Gore Vidal (ed. Robert J. Stanton), 1980
Robert STANTON: [Y]ou once said something...about your first sexual experience. Do you recall it?
Gore VIDAL: Yes, I was asked if my first sexual experience was homosexual of heterosexual. I said I was too polite to ask.
- Ibid.; referencing a televised interview with David Frost; also quoted in the Sunday Times Magazine, September 16, 1973
These books are a great deal harder to read than they were to write.
- on Sufi spiritualist writer Idries Shah
Without ever saying so, Vidal also manages to suggest that everything is political, though in a very different, non-postmodern sense. The clarity and elegance of his prose, for example, make a political point: that a critic with public purposes has rhetorical obligations, above all transparency. More generally, to a sufficiently sensitive and knowledgeable critic, everything will appear intelligent or unintelligent, skillful or shoddy, graceful or graceless, truthful or mendacious. In each of these pairs, the latter is--not immediately, perhaps, but ultimately, in some measure--a threat to our common life, our res publica. Intellectual virtues are civic virtues; intellectual vices leave the citizens vulnerable to superstition and demagoguery. There is, of course, no more sense in trying to legislate the intellectual virtues than the moral ones. But one can propagate intellectual virtue, first of all by example. This is Vidal's abiding contribution to American politics.
The prevailing American superstitions are: one, there is a Supreme Being, omnipotent and benevolent; two, some sexual predilections are more natural than others; and three, there is no class system in the United States. No one who denies any of these things can be elected to high office. As a patriot, Vidal naturally has no patience with this affront to our civic intelligence. Some of his most memorable onslaughts on our national delusions are included in Selected Essays.
Read more via www.thenation.com
Gore Vidal has known, or at any rate met, nearly everyone of literary, political or cinematic note during his lifetime. A great many of his essays feature anecdotes, always charming and often revealing, about his personal encounters with his subjects: Tennessee Williams, Dawn Powell, Christopher Isherwood, Norman Mailer, Paul Bowles, Anthony Burgess, Italo Calvino, Amelia Earhart, Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, the Roosevelts, Luces, Kennedys, Reagans and Gores among them.
Read more at: www.thenation.comScialabba is the author of Divided Mind and, most recently, What Are Intellectuals Good For? and The Modern Predicament (forthcoming), both from Pressed Wafer.
“Find out the movies a man saw between ten and fifteen, which ones he liked, disliked, and you would have a pretty good idea of what sort of mind and temperament he has.” I’m sure Vidal meant women, too, so I checked Wikipedia (sorry library gods) for lists of movies made from 1966 through 1971, the years I turned 10 and 15.
The Nation has announced the launch of eBookNation offering ebooks of the magazine's most notable contributors, and eBookNation's debut title is Gore Vidal's State of the Union, Nation Essays 1958-2005.
The essays collected here all appeared in The Nation magazine between 1958 and 2005. The early literary ones reflected Vidal's status as a rising young novelist of the postwar generation, and as he expanded confidently into nonfiction, his essays range widely over politics, religion, society, manners and morals. We see him emerge as the pre-eminent essayist of his generation, winning a 1993 Nation Book Award for a collection of nonfiction works.
Download it here for your tablet, smartphone or computer: www.thenation.com.Gore Vidal's State of the Union includes some of his great Nation essays: "Some Jews and the Gays," "Requiem for the American Empire," "Monotheism and Its Discontents," "Notes on Our Patriarchal State," "Birds and the Bees" and "The Birds and the Bees and Clinton."
A "mix of Mark Twain and Henry James," Vidal skewered religion as a "born-again atheist," and, when many other journalists shied away, held politicos in the 80s, 90s, and aughts accountable due to his "great shit detector."
Vidal’s political predictions have come true with a vengeance, such as the unchecked rise of American empire that has united the Muslim world against this country, and that George W. Bush was a "goddam fool, answering to his boss Cheney." He also foresaw the termination of the Republican Party (fingers crossed).
The film [Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia] skillfully weaves a half-century of interviews and stills, notable quotes, and conversations with acolytes including Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, actor Tim Robbins, and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Gore Vidal worried "We learn nothing because we remember nothing." Watch this documentary to stave off our collective amnesia.
Read Louise Adams' review in full at www.edgenewyork.comDon't forget the documentary's Kickstarter campaign! Help fund the archival and post-production costs and get mentioned in the credits of the final version of Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia!
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia had a very successful premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, but director Nicholas Wrathall and his team still need help with the final archival materials and post production.
You can help...and you'll get mentioned in the credits!
Check out the Kickstarter campaign.
But deadline is fast approaching… please get involved.
Of all the documentaries about comedians at the Tribeca Film Festival this year – Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley, immediately come to mind – it is the documentary about Gore Vidal, “The United States of Amnesia” that made on me the strongest impression.
At the screening during the Tribeca Film Festival rarely a minute went by without Vidal’s on-screen commentary eliciting raucous laughter from the knowledgeable fans, critics and VIPs assembled. Even Robert DeNiro, the festival’s founder, has said that the film stands out. Nicholas Wrathall, the film’s director, had full access to Gore Vidal’s last months and captures the man in full, winding down his worldly affairs, moving out of his house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Ravello, Italy because he can no longer walk unaided. The film briefly looks backwards at Vidal’s vivid life. But Wrathall mainly focuses on the last days, allowing Vidal and his contemporaries to give their impressions of his life and times. It is like Gore presiding and present at his own wake. That is something that every author craves.
The cinematography is exquisite. The directors of photography: Derek Wiesenhahn, Joel Schwartzberg, Armando De’Ath do a fine job of capturing everything from that gloomy cemetery in Washington where the film begins to the unique natural light of Venice. Everything is gloriously vivid, and the archival footage blends seamlessly into the meat of the film, the present, where Gore Vidal is getting ready to exit stage left.
the documentary Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia is not just a celebration of Vidal the public intellectual and the wit. It's also a fond look back at a time when public intellectuals would be on the airwaves talking about things that mattered. Maybe there's a subtle call for other writers, social critics, and raconteurs out there to take up the gauntlet of the gadfly, because a vital democracy needs intelligent irritants to thrive.
Read the insightful review by Hubert Vigilla (Flixist, News Editor) at www.flixist.com.
Vidal had the uniquely privileged upbringing that joined young scholarship and erudition with early political consciousness.
Vidal...was ahead of his time in many respects. He advocated for gay rights back in the middle of the 20th century.... Back in the '60s he talked about the dangers of income inequality, which have only gotten worse in the decades since. Vidal was also against the war in Vietnam before Johnson escalated the conflict. Vidal's close association with the Kennedy White House also meant greater disappointment in Kennedy as a president.
[The documentary] reminds Vidal's fans and latecomers that what The United States needs the most are its critics and historians. They're the mirrors and the healthy kicks in the pants that help the country wake up and do something, even if that something is as simple as the mere act of thinking.
Photo: Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer
For sheer entertainment value, few docs can equal Gore Vidal the United States of Amnesia...a portrait of the novelist, playwright, polemicist, public intellectual, and bullshit detector. Screenings at the Tribeca Film Fest [sold out].... Vidal (who died at 86 in 2012) was of the aristocracy and related to American royalty (his mother married an Auchincloss). Yet he betrayed his class a la FDR with a vengeance. An iconoclast ahead of his time, he candidly wrote about homosexuality in an early novel, The City and the Pillar, which got him blacklisted by book critics at the New York Times. He knew everyone and went everywhere but became mordantly critical of privilege and what he called the "American Empire," offering, in his view, "socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor."
The documentary was written up in Rolling Stone recently, and Robert De Niro stated that it was on his personal short list of must-see films at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. Ron Mwangaguhunga of IFC TV tweeted "amazing documentary on the irrepressible Gore Vidal "The United States of Amnesia" is the best doc I've seen in years.…"; Carl Ansley the tech entrepreneur and investor in TapMesh and TxVia tweeted, "really funny, thought-provoking shit-stirring stuff. Needs/deserves/will get a wide audience"; and Bevy Smith tweeted it was "More than a doc it was an autobiography" of a man she "long admired."
See the interview with Nicholas Wrathall on HuffPostLive about the documentary:
Remember, you can help fund the completion of this documentary to ensure it enjoys a post-Tribeca life. You can make a tax-deductible contribution via USA Projects (deadline May 13, 2013) or you can contribute via Kickstarter (deadline May 11, 2013).