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Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably) 
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Post Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)

Please join us in reading and discussing Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens!

Arguably is a collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens. Each thread in this book discussion forum is named after the title of one of the essays in Arguably. The page number where the essay starts is included in the thread title to make finding it within the book easy.

Read all of the essays in order or jump around and read only the essays that interest you. Please keep your comments in the appropriate threads.



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Post Re: Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
This title is a pun on vida loca, meaning crazy life, and this essay might rank as the bitchiest piece of writing ever. I have not read anything by Gore Vidal, so stand on the sidelines of this bitchfest gazing in awe.

Hitchens' gory hitpiece is at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/featu ... ens-201002

A response defending Gore Vidal is at http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 91507.html - from the guy that Hitchens calls " a risible individual wedded to half-baked conspiracy-mongering".

Gore Vidal is praised at the start as the Oscar Wilde of our time, for combining tough-mindedness with subversive wit. But it quickly deteriorates, as Hitchens registers alarm at Vidal's praise for Timothy McVeigh, his blaming FDR for Pearl Harbor and his flirting with George Bush conspiracy theories on 9/11.

At the end, Hitchens says he is not committing literary patricide, but it appears this is only a disowning of paternity, not of murder. He says Vidal claimed that Hitchens had identified himself as Vidal's heir, when in fact that was always Vidal's own idea. So Hitchens still gets to compare himself to Oscar Wilde.

The dagger gets a real twist with Hitchens' comment that "Vidal in his decline has fans like David Letterman’s, who laugh in all the wrong places lest they suspect themselves of not having a good time." You can't get much more condescending than to imply there is no need to destroy some one's reputation because they have obligingly done the deed themselves through demonstration of abundant idiocy. No comment.


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Post Re: Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
Robert: You mentioned elsewhere that Hitchens is working through the American pantheon. I think it is very American to have and celebrate a 'pantheon' (although plenty of other countries do as well) but somehow there seems to be more personification of ideals and beliefs in the American way and this makes the pantheon critically important. I think the mention of David Letterman in this essay is interesting, though Hitchens doesn't present him in a postive light, it does bring to mind how significant the 'talk show' is in popular American life and how the creme de la creme of talk show hosts can rise to near pantheon status, at least in popular opinion.



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Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:39 pm
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Post Re: Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
This article should have been called Heir Splitting or I've Lost My Heir

"So Hitchens still gets to compare himself to Oscar Wilde."

I like this idea very much. I'd like to think I'm relatively sensitive to things like this but this one escaped me so my thanks to you for that.

What struck me was the whole heir thing itself. How can someone pass down an intellectual torch as if it's for them to decide. As if they're Caesar and will adopt an Augustus. It's for the world to decide. The little tift between these two is childish and... I was going to say effeminate but I think 'girly' is more apropos.

I found myself distracted by it so much that the little seed planted in the beginning really faded from view. Hitch may want recognition now and a good way to do that is to defame Vidal - OR - this just may be an escalation of school yard name calling with an intellectual prize up for grabs to prove who is more popular and therefore mightier/righteous. I barely know anything about either one of these guys.

Wilde was hardly mentioned as this was more a rant about Vidal's conspiracy theories and distasteful behavior. In the beginning of the article it seems like it's going to be about Vidal's great writing ability but without looking it just walks right off a cliff and takes us with it, screaming all the way down. Hitch throws chains around Vidal's intellectual statue to have as many hands help him as possible to pull it down. He throws one for the patriots, Updike fans, Buckley fans, Mailer fans, Christians, Jews, Americans, and Brits. He calls his books "cheap" but specifically names the ones published after September 11 in order to mask the jab.

All the evidence Hitch gives is persuasive, though. This man seems like a total nut-ball. But the whole 'heir' thing puts a spin on the article that's hard to stop. I can't get past it. To name it is to confess a bias, give evidence of bad blood, and motive for character attack.

I almost picture him vomiting a little in his mouth when Vidal's name is mentioned as the Wilde of our time. Besides, was Vidal's writing pre-9/11 even discussed as the reason he was being nominated? Obviously it wasn't even the point of the article. The whole 'heir' spat was the point of the article.



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Post Re: Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
The 'heir' thing seems enormously conceited to say the least. Is this about legacy? I don't really understand it.

When I finished the Vidal piece, I looked back over the essays (really book reviews) to this point and thought about the American pantheon idea. What came to mind is that these characters are all white, male and dead. Well, then I checked and found that Gore Vidal is still with us so he is just white and male. So where is the American pantheon going in the 21 century? More white males or elsewhere? Also, not sure how Vladimir Nabokov fits in but I think Lolita is a great book and that Hitchens essay on it is excellent. Motivated me to read Lolita again.



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Post Re: Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
Who's considered white? I think a more refined definition of 'white' is in order. White is too general for what Hitch is implying. He's even more specific if you read him carefully. The further a person is from the proto-typical 19th century Englishman in my opinion, the further he is from what is 'right'.

I have a feeling Hitch believes the salvation of the future of mankind rests in the hands of white English males or possibly Englishmen who evolve into self-illuminating or glow-in-the-dark people, if you will.

All I'm going to say, and I don't want anyone to read this as disparaging, is that every race and civilization has had its time. Numerous contemporary books have been written concerning this (Collapse by Jared Diamond, to toss a stone onto a mountain...). If anything, the logical person would argue that the time of the 'white' male is over. There is evidence that his overwhelming hegemony is slowly coming to an end. Yes, he has a place in the future but it isn't as exclusive as it once was, nor does it rest solely based on his point of origin, skin tone, or birth right (as it should be if you're a capitalist, you enjoy justice, or you happen to prize freedom).

There's hardly homogeneity in any western country as there is in other non-occidental countries, is there? Look at Japan... it's a country of one people and I think China is the same. America is a large melting pot and mixing will increase and increase.

There's a hierarchy of white people. Who's at the top? Ask Hitch... I bet you a million he says Brits (and don't think he means Scotts or Irish, either).

(And Americans or Australians??? We're canon fodder as well.)

Hitchens likes his little moment in the sunshine, although he didn't contribute to any of it. He just likes to bask in the glory of it, that's all. There's no problem with that. A need for attention... a need to mobilize... why? You'll have more and more of these types the more societies become heterogeneous in my opinion. All I can say is that everyone should not forget the bad when considering the good and to take the good and to leave the bad.

England to America is not what Athens was to Rome. Maybe it's this way with Australia but it isn't with the United States.



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Post Re: Vidal Loco - (Page 89 of Arguably)
President Camacho wrote:
I have a feeling Hitch believes the salvation of the future of mankind rests in the hands of white English males or possibly Englishmen who evolve into self-illuminating or glow-in-the-dark people, if you will.

If that is how Hitchens feels then I suggest he is out of step with most of mankind, with the exception of a few yobs found knocking back a pint and watching the tele at the neighborhood pub.



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