Gore Vidal is a breath of fresh air for me the last couple of days. He was an acerbic, clear, incisive public intellectual.
Last night I pulled out his collection of essays, United States: Essays 1952-1992.
Some passages I marked:
The creation of a work of art, like an act of love, is our one small ‘yes’ at the center of a vast ‘no.’ from the essay, “Novelists and Critics of the 1940s,” originally published in New World Writing #4, 1953
The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, quoted by Vidal in the essay, “Sex and the Law” originally published in Partisan Review 1965
There is no position so absurd that you cannot get a great many people to assume it. from Sex and the Law” originally published in Partisan Review 1965
At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice. from Sex and the Law” originally published in Partisan Review 1965
Those last two quotes seem to be very pertinent to the present chaotic moment in the US.
Here’s the video I am working my way through. It’s from 2008. In the last years of his life I think Vidal had some clear insights into the collapse of the American Empire we are living through.
This Lansing State Journal article by Krystal Nurse will probably appear in tomorrow’s Holland Sentinel. It was on the website today (which I check daily instead of looking at the paper). Some valuable information about the hate groups in Michigan.
Finally on his birthday, a poem by Baldwin. This was on Facebook and the last four lines (!) were omitted.