RANDALL H. WALDRON


The Naked, the Dead,
and the Machine

In 1914 T. E. Hulme predicted with accuracy that now seems akin to prophecy that twentieth-century art was moving toward the creation of forms "associated in our minds with the idea of machinery"; toward the time when a sculptor would prefer to organic, natural forms "the hard clean surface of a piston rod." Fifteen years later Hart Crane, who dubbed himself "the Pindar of the Machine Age," and whose poem The Bridge has been termed "the most extraordinary example of the psychological impact of mechanization of modern poetry," called for the poet to embrace the world of the machine, "for unless poetry can absorb the machine, i.e., acclimatize it as naturally and casually as trees, cattle, galleons, castles, and all other associations of the past, then poetry has failed of its full contemporary function." And Crane's friend and editor Waldo Frank, also writing in 1929, echoes the poet's call for the "acclimatization" of the machine, attributing its growing capacity to pervade and dominate human experience to "a negative reflex of man's incapacity as yet to create a Whole in modern terms and to assimilate the machine as a means and a symbol within it."

But in spite of such admonitions to absorb mechanization and to recognize its rightful and defining place in life and literature; even in spite of the degree to which Hulme's prediction about the influence of machine forms on art has been realized, American writers have for the most part resisted the overtures of the machine. "The Dynamo and the Virgin"

____________________
From PMLA 1, vol. 87 ( January 1972). Copyright © 1972 by The Modem Language Association of America.

-115-

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Norman Mailer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Norman Mailer *
  • Contents *
  • Editor's Note ix
  • Introduction 1
  • The Angels Are White 7
  • The Early Novels 17
  • The Aesthetics of Norman Mailer 27
  • On the Parapet 33
  • Mailer's New Style 51
  • My Mailer Problem 65
  • Male Chauvinist? 79
  • The Minority Within 85
  • The Naked, the Dead, and the Machine 115
  • "The Armies of the Night" 127
  • "The Executioner's Song" 139
  • The Taking of the Moon 143
  • Sex, Creativity and God 167
  • The Prisoner as Creator in "The Executioner's Song" 183
  • Norman in Egypt: "Ancient Evenings" 193
  • Chronology 201
  • Contributors 203
  • Bibliography 205
  • Acknowledgments 207
  • Index 209
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