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21.9.05

Gore Vidal Interview

Also on Ionarts:

Susan Sontag Buried in Montparnasse (February 12, 2005)

Sontag at the BNF (January 6, 2005)

Susan Sontag, the Iron Lady of New York (December 30, 2004)

DeLillo Goes from France to Germany (September 22, 2003)

Translation of Interview with Don DeLillo (September 14, 2003)

Gore Vidal for Congress, 1962
The reception that American artists and writers receive in foreign countries always interests me. In that vein, I recently read an interesting interview with Gore Vidal ("Je crois à l'utilité des livres, figurez-vous", September 1) by Lila Azam Zanganeh for Le Monde, where Vidal calls it like he sees it (my translation):
What do you think of religion in America today?

It's the work of the devil. There may be not a God, but there certainly is a devil, and his guiding passion is the religion of fundamentalist Protestants. I think my country is becoming a theocracy in many ways. Through the medium of television, evangelists raise considerable amounts of money that they then invest in order to elect obscurantist retards. As there is no system of public education to speak of, the vast majority of my fellow citizens are frighteningly ignorant. They don't know where Iraq is. They take everything the government tells them as the Gospel truth. Good Lord, any other normal country would have revolted against this war! But we are an abnormal country, governed by experts in public lying.

What about the Democratic Party?

If you manage to find such a thing, I'll take a look at it... But it does not exist. [...]

Are you among those who believe that freedom of expression is threatened in the United States?

Yes, of course. The country belongs to a handful of men who also control the media. Look at General Electric. It makes nuclear weapons for the Pentagon and also owns the NBC news network. There is in this a very sophisticated censorship apparatus because it is intrinsic to the system. That's the stroke of genius. It's like an electronic cage around the whole nation, blocking information from flowing.
I am thankful for people who say the things that need to be said but that no one wants to hear. See the links to posts about two other such intellectuals, Susan Sontag and Don DeLillo. The latter said in that interview, "For me, a writer should be someone who thinks 'against': against the powers that be, against big business, against uncontrolled consumerism, against unceasing waste, against everyday cynicism..." When asked by the interviewer if he felt more comfortable in Europe, Gore Vidal replied, "No. To the contrary. I have the best time in California, because the political climate nourishes me. The anger nourishes me. And I am angry most of the time when I am there. So, what could be intolerable for just about anyone else is, for me, the very fuel of my writing."

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