Good morning, everyone,
Out late last night, woke up early, made the usual 3-shot latte and logged onto the Times only to discover that the great Gore Vidal is now the late great Gore Vidal. I cannot add anything to the thorough review of Vidal and his oeuvre in the Times article, so I won’t even try. But I will say that the only solace I take in this news is that it provides noteworthy counterpoint to my post of Monday, about Jonah Lehrer, a man who calls himself a writer, but whose skills are virtually non-existent compared to those of Vidal.
Tough, witty, supremely opinionated (aren’t all the great writers?), more than a little bit aristocratic, sometimes flat out wrong-minded and wrong-headed but always vehemently fearless, Vidal could write about anything, and he did – fiction, nonfiction, essays, plays. (Note: on the subject of that fibber Lehrer, there’s an interesting ditty about Vidal cheating on tests…)
Many people only love writers, filmmakers and artists in general whose work they like, love, identify with, or can supremely champion. But that’s not for me. I don’t always need to agree with an artist’s work, and can appreciate the passion, enthusiasm and rigor that went into it. Words on paper are not always meant to please. They can often be meant to examine, to question, to demand, to stir up, to rile, and all of those things Vidal did in spades.
His lifetime literary output was truly staggering. For me, perhaps even more than reading him, I relished watching interviews with him, and his sparring matches with William F. Buckley are the stuff of legend. There was a deep intellect there, a curiosity, a ravenous appetite for culture, politics. The man knew who he was. And at the end of his life, after all those books and essays and words, so did everyone else.
For the curious, here’s the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gore_Vidal.
It’s pouring in New York City. Have a good day, everyone.