Gore Vidal Dies Aged 86
We remember him in his own words.
Playwright, intellectual, journalist, novelist, screenwriter, essayist, serial name-dropper, commentator and political activist Gore Vidal has died from pneumonia aged 86 at his home in Hollywood. Aside from his literary career, Vidal's claims to fame include having had over 1000 "sexual encounters", turning Michele Bachmann from Democrat to Republican, and adding a homoerotic subtext to Ben Hur. What better way to remember him than in his own words?
"Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies."
— from The Sunday Times Magazine, London (16 September 1973)
"The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved — Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal — God is the Omnipotent Father — hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is in place not for just one tribe but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose."
— from 'America First? America Last? America at Last?', Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 April 1992)
"Everybody likes a bit of gossip to some point, as long as it’s gossip with some point to it. That’s why I like history. History is nothing but gossip about the past, with the hope that it might be true."
— 'Gore Vidal, the Fantastic Man', Butt No. 20 (7 April 2007)
"I used to be able to summon up scenes at will, but now aging memory is so busy weeding its own garden that, promiscuously, it pulls up roses as well as crabgrass."
— from Palimpsest: A Memoir (1995)
"The reason no one has yet been able to come up with a good word to describe the homosexualist (sometimes known as gay, fag, queer, etc.) is because he does not exist. The human race is divided into male and female. Many human beings enjoy sexual relations with their own sex, many don't; many respond to both. This plurality is the fact of our nature and not worth fretting about."
— 'Sex Is Politics' essay (1979) in The Second American Revolution (1983)
"The unfed mind devours itself."
— 'Gore's Lore', Vanity Fair (September 1992)
And, if you have a spare 25 minutes: