Saturday, November 10, 2007
Great Man Gone
Mailer is dead. He seemed to go on, strongly, for a long time. When Charlie Rose asked him if he planned more novels, he said that he was in the research phase of one, a sequel to The Castle In The Forest, but that sometime or other 'the ping pong ball has to roll off the table'.
He's been a fixture, a kind of courageous mind, a self-confessed 'joker in the pack', shamed by some of his own actions, but always available to take responsibility and not make excuses. I think those who may see him as a loose cannon, a self-publicizing bull, miss the point of his nature. He lived in the existentialist time, and knew his Frenchmen. He engaged with the politics and social ethics of his time through his novels and other prose.
For people who see 'intellectuals' as ivory tower types, Mailer put them to the lie. He 'acted' -- as in taking on roles and as in taking public positions. There was an old-fashionedness to him, a sense of honor. Physical risk, boxing, would prove courage. He would fight men. He would challenge women to accept gallantry when they clearly saw it as clownish condescension. However ill-accepted, these actions, even at their worst, aimed at virtue.
Not much has been said of his religiosity, and I may take that subject on later. For now, it's worth noticing that he saw God as he would see a character in a novel -- a Being whose development is not entirely decided. Mankind itself may be the 'road agent' in that universe, discovering what to do at every rut and stone and bad rooming house meal.
Thank you, Norman.