Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Norman Mailer is Dead

To anyone of my 50-something generation Norman Mailer was an iconic figure. More so if you lived in NY City in the 60s or 70s (as I did in 1972-73).

Mailer died recently at age 84.

Now it turns out he was more Jewish than I imagined.

Mailer succintly encapsulates his attitude toward Judaism in an interview he gave earlier this year to Nextbook.

When asked, “What role has your being Jewish played in your being a writer,” Mailer replies emphatically, “An enormous role.”

He picks two aspects of the Jewish experience that influenced him -- the sense of history that makes it “impossible to take anything for granted” and also the Jewish mind.

“We’re here to do all sorts of outrageous thinking, if you will ... certainly incisive thinking," Mailer said. "If the Jews brought anything to human nature, it’s that they developed the mind more than other people did.”

Mailer continues in the interview to bemoan the loss of this ability due to what he terms “cheap religious patriotism,” suggesting that Jews have become distracted by an obsessive, hard-line approach to Israel and anti-Semitism rather than staying focused on broader intellectual pursuits.

Check out the full story in this article at the JTA.

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