Difference between revisions of "September 15, 2019"

From Gerald R. Lucas
(Added Mailer 2004.)
(→‎Corporate Capitalism: Added small business.)
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** the aim of technological society is to work everything over to plastic{{sfn|Mailer|2003|p=92}}
** the aim of technological society is to work everything over to plastic{{sfn|Mailer|2003|p=92}}
** “We live in a cheaper environment now than we used to.”{{sfn|Binelli|2007|p=69}}
** “We live in a cheaper environment now than we used to.”{{sfn|Binelli|2007|p=69}}
* '''Small business''' capitalism is a creative force, while corporate capitalism is a “totalitarian leviathan.”{{sfn|Mailer|Mailer|2007|p=212}}

Revision as of 06:59, 5 November 2019

Mailer’s Political Resonance



  • is humanity’s natural state[2][3]
  • against political correctness[4]
    • “we’ve got to find a way to say human nature is both ugly and beautiful, and we have to deal with both.”[5]
  • “Americans are angrier now than at any time I’ve ever seen them.” — “rage”[6]
    • liberals detested at the “labile pussyfooting of the Clinton Administration.”[7]
  • flag conservatism and moral reform[8]
    • “Americans had to be encouraged to live with all the certainties of myth while bypassing the sharp edge of inquiry implicit in hypothesis.” [my bold]
      • “Faced with the specter of a superpower, our own superpower, economically and spiritually out of kilter, the best solution seemed to be War.”
      • “Serious questions are answered by declaration and will not be reopened. The need is for a morality tale at a child's level. Good will overcome a dark enemy.”[7]
    • strive for world empire to begin moral reform at home[9][10]
    • becomes a moral imperative[11]
    • to safeguard our economic future[7]
  • See the end of Hitchens (1997) for a likely scenario of a fascist takeover. In some ways, it seems similar to Trump’s America, though instead of solely against black Americans, it also demonizes Mexicans and Muslims.
    • Baumann (2016) compares Mailer’s analysis of Barry Goldwater and his supporters to Trump and his with some striking similarities.
    • could happen quickly because of our lack of tradition[12]
    • because of the corporation, the military, and “the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports,” there exists a “prefascistic atmosphere in America already.”[13]
  • “Compulsive adoration of our leaders is poison, after all.”[14]

Personal Responsibility (The Necessity of Criticism)

  • “When you have a great country, it’s your duty to be critical of it so it can become even greater.”[15]
    • Pritchard points out (Poirier’s observation) of the dominance of the “metaphor of war” in Mailer’s work: Mailer “meet[s] head-on every sort of public, social, and political phenomenon in order to “war” on them.”[16]
    • See Wade 2019 on the importance of Mailer’s account of “the curious art of protest, and the dance between authority and dissent.” Analyzing contemporary protest movements, Wade remarks that Mailer’s “reading of the events, and in particular its subtext, still resonates.”[17]
  • “The politics of Norman Mailer have conventionally been evaluated more as a personal register of the American zeitgeist, and less as owing any debt or duty to ideology.”[18]
    • “I react better to criticism than to compliments.”[19]
  • Left Conservative — “a challenge to those who remain fixed in orthodoxy or correctness”[20]
  • Cancer is an outgrowth of inaction or conformity.[21]
  • “Culture’s worth huge, huge risks. Without culture we’re all totalitarian beasts.”[22]
  • Mike Lennon: “Truth comes out of opposition.”[23]
  • “Consciousness is enlarged gently and delicately, yet powerfully, and it takes great literature, like great music, painting, and dance, to make that happen. I’ve come to believe that the function of the novelist is more important now than ever, precisely because the serious novel is in danger of becoming extinct.”[24]


  • “Democracy is existential”[25]
    • is noble and always threatened[2]
    • We cannot take democracy for granted because it is always in peril and always changing.[26]
    • Is hard-won and maintained: “The only defenses of democracy, finally, are the traditions of democracy.”[2]
    • “Democracy is a state of grace attained only by those countries that have a host of individuals not only ready to enjoy freedom but to undergo the heavy labor of maintaining it.”[27] [bold mine]
      • “Democracy, however, is not an antibiotic to be injected into a polluted foreign body. It is not a magical serum. Rather, democracy is a grace. In its ideal state, it is noble.[7]
        • “Democracy can neither be injected nor imposed. . . . Democracy must come from within.”[28]
    • assumes that humans have value[29]
    • “If our democracy is the noblest experiment in the history of civilization, it may also be the most singularly vulnerable one.”[30]
    • links to the “viability of small business, the return of the family farm, and the cleaner labor union.”[31]
  • “inimical to security”[32] — Mailer hopes there’s not another national crisis to push us toward fascism (Was Obama’s presidency that thing for those who are now in power?)
    • many mullahs “see American democracy as the literal embodiment of Satan”[33]
    • illogical to sacrifice our freedom “for a total security that will never come to pass.”[34]
  • depends on critical distinctions[35]
    • “brought the power and virtue of good questions to the attention of the people rather than restricting the matter to the upper classes”[7]
  • links freedom to democracy, and asserts it’s just as delicate — also the thing he likes most about America[30]
    • “It is that in a democracy, everyone feels the need to find out who they are, what they are, and in which ways they can live and identify themselves.”[36]
    • founded on the notion that we are more good than evil — liberty to vote and “power to learn to think”[37]

Corporate Capitalism

  • “Corporate power is running this country now.”[38] (See the discussion that follows.)
  • against corporations,[4] as they expanded into American life since WWII,[39] and abroad (leading to 9/11)[40]
  • contradiction; leads to greed in a “Christian nation”[41]
    • live as an oxymoron: be altruistic / “beat everyone”
    • “money-grab” of the nineties led to a “pervasive American guilt”;[35] “Christian bad conscience”[42]
    • “money leaches out all other values”[35]
    • “Jesus and Evel Knievel don’t consort too well in one psyche.[43]
  • “Marketing was a beast and a force that succeeded in taking America away from most of us.”
    • created a culture of interruption that led to a deterioration of concentration. Mailer was talking about commercials on television, so arguably this problem has gotten worse with our devices and notifications.[44] See below, too, for commercials and VR.[45]
  • likens corporatism to “the pall of plastic”[43]
    • the aim of technological society is to work everything over to plastic[46]
    • “We live in a cheaper environment now than we used to.”[42]
  • Small business capitalism is a creative force, while corporate capitalism is a “totalitarian leviathan.”[47]


  • inspires totalitarianism[22]
  • “more information, more connection, is not going to make us more learned—we could lose our connection to existence itself.”[48] [my bold] This links to the ideas about plastic above: plastic as a cheap material that manages to isolate us from something essential.
    • uses Virtual Reality as a metaphor for a “closed system, a facsimile of life” that Bush and company exert of America that limits freedom[49]
      • linked explicitly to commercials;[50] marketing has subsumed quality as the primary approach of the corporation[45]
      • must become “less displaced from reality.”[51]
    • Like the astronauts on the moonshot: “In order not to feel fear, you’ve got to explore every realm of the unknown technologically, which they did.”[52] In order not to get get distracted by the awe of it, the astronauts isolated themselves through technology.
  • “Technology has become the dominant culture in existence and may soon be the only real culture.”[53]
  • contributes to “the deterioration of the powers of concentration, like florescent lights, bad architecture, invasive marketing and ubiquitous plastic.”[54] (Also see Mailer 2004, pp. 558–559.)
  • frays the soul;[54] “slightly deadening”[55]
  • substitutes power for pleasure, making us narcissistic and power-driven[46]
  • “Everything I detest has gotten stronger in the last 30 or 40 years; plastic, airplane interiors, modern architecture, and suburban sprawl.”[24]


  1. Sheed 1971, p. 17.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mailer 2003, p. 70.
  3. Mailer 2003a, p. 541.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hitchens 1997, p. 117.
  5. Hitchens 1997, p. 127.
  6. Hitchens 1997, p. 121.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Mailer 2005.
  8. Mailer 2003, pp. 50, 52.
  9. Mailer 2003, pp. 51–52, 57.
  10. Mailer 2003a, p. 540.
  11. Mailer 2003, p. 53.
  12. Mailer 2003, pp. 108–109.
  13. Mailer 2003a, p. 542.
  14. Mailer 2003, p. 85.
  15. Mailer 2003, p. 15.
  16. Pritchard 2016.
  17. Wade 2019.
  18. Hitchens 1997, p. 115.
  19. Busa 1999, p. 25.
  20. Hitchens 1997, p. 116.
  21. Mailer 2003, p. 19.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Hitchens 1997, p. 126.
  23. Brady 2018.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Busa 1999, p. 31.
  25. Mailer 2003, p. 16.
  26. Mailer 2003, pp. 16–17.
  27. Mailer 2003, p. 71.
  28. Mailer 2004, p. 565.
  29. Mailer 2004, p. 563.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Mailer 2003, p. 110.
  31. Mailer 2004, p. 556.
  32. Mailer 2003, p. 106.
  33. Mailer 2004, p. 551.
  34. Mailer 2004, p. 567.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Mailer 2003, p. 108.
  36. Mailer 2004, p. 562.
  37. Mailer 2004, p. 569.
  38. Mailer 2003, p. 104.
  39. Mailer 2003, p. 48.
  40. Treneman 2001.
  41. Hitchens 1997, p. 120.
  42. 42.0 42.1 Binelli 2007, p. 69.
  43. 43.0 43.1 Mailer 2003, p. 46.
  44. Mailer 2003, pp. 89–91.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Mailer 2004, p. 555.
  46. 46.0 46.1 Mailer 2003, p. 92.
  47. Mailer & Mailer 2007, p. 212.
  48. Rolling Stone, December 30, 1999, p. 110.
  49. Mailer 2004, pp. 552–554.
  50. Mailer 2004, p. 554.
  51. Mailer 2004, p. 566.
  52. Busa 1999, p. 29.
  53. Mailer 2003, pp. 88–89.
  54. 54.0 54.1 Mailer 2003, p. 91.
  55. Binelli 2007, p. 70.

Working Bibliography

  • Baumann, Paul (March 23, 2016). "Mailer on Trump". Commonweal. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  • Begiebing, Robert (2020). "Norman Mailer and Joseph Ellis: Unsettling Dialogues on Democracy". The Mailer Review. 12 (1).
  • Binelli, Mark (May 2007). "Norman Mailer". Rolling Stone. pp. 69, 72.
  • Brady, Amy (March 22, 2018). "Why Norman Mailer Still Matters in 2018". Village Voice. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  • Busa, Christopher (1999). "Interview with Norman Mailer". Provincetown Arts. pp. 24–32. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  • Hitchens, Christopher (1997). "Norman Mailer: A Minority of One". New Left Review. 22 (March/April): 115–128.
  • Mailer, Norman (January 23, 2005). "America and Its War with the Invisible Kingdom of Satan". Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  • — (2013a). "The Election and America's Future". In Sipiora, Phillip. Mind of an Outlaw. New York: Random House. pp. 571–574.
  • — (2003a). "Gaining an Empire, Losing a Democracy?". In Sipiora, Phillip. Mind of an Outlaw. New York: Random House. pp. 540–542.
  • — (2004). "Immodest Proposals". In Sipiora, Phillip. Mind of an Outlaw. New York: Random House. pp. 550–570.
  • — (2003). Why Are We at War?. New York: Random House.
  • Mailer, Norman; Mailer, John Buffalo (2006). The Big Empty. New York: Nation Books.
  • McAfee, Andrew (October 23, 2019). "Technology Will Keep Us From Running Out of Stuff". Wired. Retrieved 2019-10-24.
  • "The Party". Rolling Stone. December 30, 1999. p. 110.
  • Pritchard, William (November 24, 2016). "Stormin' Norman". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  • Sheed, Wilfred (1971). "Norman Mailer: Genius or Nothing". The Morning After: Selected Essays and Reviews. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 9–17.
  • Treneman, Ann (September 13, 2001). "'Ruin more beautiful than the building'". Times. London. Retrieved 2019-10-26.
  • Wade, Francis (August 12, 2019). "Reading 'The Armies of the Night' in an Age of Youth Protest". LA Review of Books. Retrieved 2019-09-15.