Norman Mailer


Marxism is a faith for which people are willing to die. Reason always collapses before the inner readiness of others to give up their lives for a vision. I am ready to die for Christ, and these intoxicated warriors of Communism are willing to die for the mystical bonds of materialism. – Harlots Ghost, Norman Mailer (pg. 1110)


A rather dated declaration. I would think there are more contemporary ‘warriors’ to criticize than communists. The rabid communist is a bit of a straw man, a 1950s kind of enemy for people who haven’t notice there are other threats out there now, not the least of which are passionate believers in God who fly planes into buildings. I am also amazed any Christian bothers to even bring up Marxism, given the remarkable parallels between Marxist and Christian ideals of providing for all people according to their needs.


I have shelves of books, all sorts of books. I have a theory that many books contain something of value and, furthermore, that something of value may well be on a given page in a given paragraph and will retain its value even when taken out of context. Granted a book may have other meanings which may only be discerned within the context of the entire book and for which one excerpt will not suffice. It is my habit to take a different book each day, open it randomly and start reading until something strikes me as valuable or interesting. It is not always my agenda to attack or vilify something or someone although admittedly occasionally I do have such an agenda.

I do this daily as a form of mental calisthenics in the spirit of “use it or lose it.” I found the huge Norman Mailer book on sale for one dollar.

My first thought was of the suicide bombers we so often read about in the news. I realize that I need not bother mentioning them explicitly or mentioning their creed for many readers to recall current events and “connect the dots.” Of course our cherished American ideologies of liberty and democracy are also presented as ideals or ideas for which many have been willing to die. Howard Zinn spoke of the “Three Holy Wars” of the American Revolution, Civil War and World War II.

Last year I was chatting on Paltalk in a room filled with Southern Republican Catholics. I casually mentioned that Jesus impresses me as a socialist since he seems to care nothing for wealth or worldly political power and even advises people to give their worldly possessions to the poor. One woman became furious at my words and left the room.

At times I quote from Homer or Plato which is indeed quite dated. Norman Mailer was alive during my lifetime. In the world of journalism last week is dated. On a stock market ticker the previous hour is dated. Archeologists and paleontologists see everything as dated in a positive sense.

Here is a link on the life of Norman Mailer:

Harlot’s Ghost, Mailer’s longest novel (1310 pages), appeared in 1991. It is an exploration of the unspoken dramas of the CIA from the end of WWII to 1965. He performed a huge amount of research for the novel, which is still on CIA reading lists. He ended the novel with the words “To be continued,” and planned to write a sequel, titled Harlot’s Grave. But other projects intervened and he never wrote it. Harlot’s Ghost sold well.

A biography is an obituary which has become dated. Obituaries tend to stress the positive. Biographies are more of a balance sheet showing both assets and liabilities.

Justine, what will your biography look like? In what sense will the world be different, better or worse because you have passed this way? Will you be classified as a limb sawyer or a limb crawler? Of course we will not be able to Google on your bio since Justine Saracen is only your pen-name. You do not have the courage to speak out under your real name and face whatever the consequences might be.


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