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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:52 AM
Original message
US writer Norman Mailer wins top France prize
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 12:15 PM by leftchick
NEW YORK (AFP) - US writer Norman Mailer, 83, was decorated with France's highest award, the Legion of Honor, on Friday, and recalled his ties to France and love for its tongue, which he "never could master."


The award was presented by the French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, for Mailer's contribution to literature and for his ties to France.

"I've had an exciting relation to France all my life, from my young years in Brooklyn when I thought that Paris was the place to be," Mailer said.

He studied at the Sorbonne after World War II and loved French, "this language that I adore and was never able to master."

Mailer received the medal of Chevalier, or Knight of the Legion of Honor.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060304/en_afp/afpentertai...


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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. this is good
he deserves the honor
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:22 PM
Response to Original message
2. Norman Mailer is a dick
I loathe the hagiography of violent egotists, and he is the worst kind.

Google a little about Mailer and such things as stabbing his wife or being sociopathically cruel to his "inferiors," see what you find.

That's my opinion.

Peace.
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michiganbuckeye1970 Donating Member (59 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Must Separate the individual from the artist/intellectual
While I agree that Mailer probably has many regretful situations in his personal life, the fact of the matter is that as an writer, he is one of our best. I don't think anyone has done a better job of writing about the late sixties than Norman Mailer. Everyone should read "Armies of the Night," (about the 1967 March on the Pentagon) "The Siege of Chicago" (about the 1968 political conventions) and "Of a Fire on the Moon" (about the 1969 lunar mission). I think these three books do a great job of capturing what it was like to live in this country during that time and make for very interesting reads knowing what we know at this point in our countries history.

Often times people get caught up in Mailer's egotism. But I think Mailer uses this as a sort of metaphor about what being an American is all about. Let's face it, our nationalism that gurgles forth from the heart of our country is own of pure ego. We think we are the best and if anyone questions this, they can go fuck themselves.

Mailer does have his character flaws, but he has probably taken more artistic chances since any writer in this country since Theodore Dreiser.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. exceptionally well said!
welcome to DU michiganbuckeye1970!

:toast:
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Voltaire99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 05:20 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. So what?
Many great artists have been dicks. If that's your criterion, you'll have to abjure whole libraries of books along with much art and music.

Whatever his (many) personal failings, there's nothing wrong with celebrating Mailer's literary nonfiction and socio-political investigations. He catalogued poisons in the American soul as few authors before or since.

One can learn a great deal more from his work, in fact, than from going on the E!-style sleaze hunt you puritanically propose.
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 02:50 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Double irony
The first irony is that progressives line up behind this misogynistic and violent man who's also infamous for treating the "little people" around him with contempt and worse. His prose is bloated and prolix, and has been for decades - clearly he's not been subject to an editor since the 60s. The real Mailer, the one whose literary gifts could make a splash, has disappeared. When he was hungry (say, around the time he wrote Cannibals and Christians), he was dynamic and worth reading. But that Mailer is long gone, a victim of his own excesses. What a wasted talent.

The second irony is that someone who calls himself Voltaire would use drive-by accusations of puritanism and sleaze against someone whose opinions he disagrees with. Perhaps it didn't cross your mind that such attacks of the person rather than the opinion, in an effort to police a discussion, are the real puritanism. Heh heh.

The real Voltaire wouldn't have any use for Mailer, except perhaps as a target of witty laceration. Voltaire was not one to suffer pomposity or meanness gladly. Nor am I.

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Voltaire99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 06:11 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. "Attacks of the person rather than the opinion"
"Norman Mailer is a dick," wrote he who now groans about "attacks of the person."

You urged people to judge Mailer on the basis of his person, or rather, on the basis of your puritanical attacks. Told that is a meager yardstick, now you cry it is your person under attack. Truly, you must be made of sterner stuff if you want to throw those famous stones, Psephos. Just as you must bring more than the equivalent of a hangnail if ever you hope to leave any "witty lacerations"!

Bitter medicine but true, Greek: character is no guide to artistic merit. Voltaire's character was constantly impugned; oh, did the moralizers of his time call him nasty things.
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Mailer is a public figure; your argument is made of straw
One DUer attacking another is not equivalent to a DUer "attacking" a public figure. We're here to trade opinions amongst each other, not insults. I clearly identified my statement as an opinion in my O.P. You have a different opinion, so post it, make your argument, list all the great reasons why Mailer is such a gem. But leave me out of it.

Public figures are not only fair game, they're about 90% of the reason people post here. Accepting that is part of the decision someone like Mailer makes when deciding to become a public figure. Mailer is not worried about what poor Psephos says about him on DU, I promise.

DU rules specifically prohibit ad hominem attacks between forum members. But all rules aside, it confounds me how it gives someone pleasure to insult a fellow progressive because of a difference of opinion. Perhaps you prefer that we all hold exactly the same opinions, or more to the point, your opinions?

The world has enough animosity in it already without needing anyone to manufacture more. We need not agree on everything to remain allies on the left side of center.

Meanwhile, in my book Mailer is a dick and will always be a dick for treating other people very badly, including several instances of attempted murder. You do know he stabbed his wife and then said he did it "to know what it would feel like," right? So he could write about it, I suppose.
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Voltaire99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. On dicks and their books
My dear Psephos,

Yes, we are indeed fellow progressives, and if in the rough and tumble of arguing about Mailer I have insulted you, then now let me step back and extend an olive branch.

You think Mailer is a dick. Well, I agree. Initially you sent others on what I saw as a gossipy errand to read about his terribleness. That did irritate, obviously. I asserted that many artists have been dicks, but that we can still value the work. This is a critical philosophical difference between us. I do not care to inquire about an author, "Is she a good or bad person?"

So in the spirit of a less caustic exchange, let me suggest that Mailer's worst failings--from stabbing Adele to head-butting Vidal to helping uncage Abbott--are more than sufficient for condemning the person. And in the work of one so self-referential and indeed egotistical, the self is not easily separated from the work! And the self in this case is somewhat ridiculous, as acknowledged hilariously in the jealous essay on doing the Cavett Show with Capote.

While it is the puritan instinct to expunge all traces of the heterodox, I should acknowledge that you find some value in "Cannibals and Christians." I would send those less familiar than are you with Mailer to "Miami and the Siege of Chicago," "Armies of the Night," and shorter works like "Superman Comes to the Supermarket" for examples of his usefulness to understanding 20th century America. He especially illuminates the role of corporate power, the imperial project, the rise of the security state, the prizing of artifice, the authoritarian mind, and our annihilating religiosity. Anyone conversant with his books will not have been taken by surprise by Bushism; he charts its decades-long rise, its sour perfecting of old tendencies.

For his eye's keenness on matters that follow his heyday, one should see things like the 90s interview with Patrick Buchanan or his essay on Brett Easton Ellis. (Note I am not recommending the fiction, not because it isn't valuable, but because it is so much less valuable than the New Journalism.)

In short, the failed man can still diagnose the failing society, just as a leprous doctor can still take a pulse.

A last thing. You hate Mailer's prose. I surely don't. It bridges a more lush 19th century diction and syntax and the leaner 20th century style, and there are pleasures in complexity. But more important than the surface effects is the metaphorical power. The evocation of a plastic America, forever pitched between poles of profit, prayer and murder, has been persuasive to millions of readers on the left the world over. Take it or leave it--to each his own!

Yours,

V99
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-07-06 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Wow, now there's a good post
Just what I hope for when I come to DU - a discussion, and one that's argued with passion and knowledge.

I don't need everyone (or anyone) to agree with me when I post; a discussion is way better when there are many points of view, rather than minor variations on just one.

Persuasion is impossible when one's listener is on the defensive. That's why a good exchange never impugns or glorifies the arguers, just the arguments.

Voltaire, you've actually convinced me to take another look at Mailer...and to look for more of your posts elsewhere. I'm not saying we'll often agree, but nothing wrong with that.

Thanks.

Psephos.
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Voltaire99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-08-06 01:57 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Thank you, Psephos.
And I will bear in mind those wise words on arguers and arguments.

Peace,

V99
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
5. Way to go old, man!
Mailer has been a brave author
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Voltaire99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 05:06 AM
Response to Original message
6. Bravo!
From the very quotable Mailer, let this example on the "patriotism" of the dark Bush years suffice:

My feeling is that you're patriotic about America if you're obsessed with America because it's a democracy, and its obligation is to improve all the time, not to stop and take bows and smell its armpits and say 'Ambrosia!'
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Algorem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
9. he's still around?
I thought he mailed his last norman a couple years ago
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0007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-06-06 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
13. Indeed a very powerful and gifted writer aside from his personal life.
To call this man a dick says much about the stone thrower.
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