Magazine article The Spectator

Norman's Wisdom

Magazine article The Spectator

Norman's Wisdom

Article excerpt

Provincetown, Mass

One of the pleasures of owning and being involved on the editorial side of a magazine is the people you meet in the course of business. Norman Mailer, the heavyweight champion of American letters, is an old friend, so my executive and managing editors and I flew up to Boston and then drove to Provincetown to interview the great man for our next cover story. Until the interview I had seen Norman only in social situations, with lots of women interfering whenever he and I tried to solve the problems of the world. This time it was all business, four hours of it, and once it was finished I swore to myself that I would never again waste time chasing pussy and getting drunk with fools. Provincetown, incidentally, is a beautiful and historic town by the sea, but the day we were there was during Women's Week, which meant that thousands of lesbians were walking around holding hands and smooching in public. (Now, if any of you entertain aesthetically erotic dreams of two women together -- which I have all my life - fuggedaboutit. Never have I seen such dumpy, ugly dykes.)

The impending war with Iraq was the main topic. Unlike fearless Samurai such as William Kristol, who itch to send others to fight but who have never served a day, God forbid, Mailer has seen lotsa action, and against real fighters, the Japanese during the second world war. He categorised conservatives as either flag wavers or value conservatives. The former want power, and are willing to start wars in order to get it; the latter believe in true family values, honour, religion, patriotism and so on. (Hear, hear!) On religion Norman was perfect. Islam's main point is egalitarianism, but no one has betrayed Islam more than the leaders of the Muslim world, where only the poor are equal and where everyone is poor (except the leaders, that is). Christianity's strong point is compassion, but according to Norman we have been not only extremely insensitive to others, we haven't exactly been very compassionate of late. Judaism's strength is reason, and here Norman got quite angry. But I'll let this one go, no use getting him and myself in trouble just as Sharon is ready to take over the world. (Or at least the West Bank.)

Making money with money is immoral, according to the all-knowing one. He reminded me of Hilaire Belloc, and his favourite target, the money-shufflers. …

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