October 3, 2005 is the 80th birthday of prolific American author and historian Gore Vidal.
Vidal's genius shines through engaging prose (novels, plays, essays, short stories, non-fiction books) elucidating our history and its powerful lessons. Such an extraordinary individual is rarely given the recognition, respect and honor they deserve during their lifetime.
With a personal library of Vidal's work spanning from 1946 to present, I take this opportunity to share a few quotes from Vidal books, essays, interviews, and lectures which may lead you to explore the wealth of wisdom, knowledge and insightful observations in his extensive body of work:
From Vidal's book "Homage to Daniel Shays - Collected Essays by Gore Vidal": "...I think it is tragic that the poor man has almost no chance to rise unless he is willing to put himself in thrall to moneyed interests." (June 6, 1968, postscript to 'The Holy Family')
"Why do we allow our governors to take so much of our money and spend it in ways that not only fail to benefit us but do great damage to others as we prosecute undeclared wars...in what is supposed to be peacetime? Whether he knows it or not, the middle-income American is taxed as though he were living in a socialist society. But for the money he gives the government he gets almost nothing back." (The New York Review of Books, August 10, 1972, 'Homage to Daniel Shays')
From Vidal's April 20, 1992 Lowell Lecture at Harvard University: "Our prisons are the most terrible in the First World and the most crowded. Our death row executions are a source of deep disgust in civilized countries where more and more we are regarded as a primitive, uneducated, and dangerous people."
From interview by Brooks Peters, "Vintage Vidal," Fall 1992, Out magazine: "Monotheism is the great unmentionable evil at center of our culture...And considering the damage it [Christianity] has done to the United States through vicious laws, I am for curbing it. First step, tax all church/temple portfolios..."
From Vidal's book "The Last Empire-Essays 1992-2000" : "It is part of the myth that the attack [Pearl Harbor] was unprovoked." (Newsweek, Jan. 11, 1993, 'How We Missed The Saturday Dance')
"The sensible code observed by all the world (except for certain fundamentalist monotheistic Jews, Christians, and Muslims) is that "consensual" relations in sexual matters are no concern of the state." (The Nation, July 21, 1997, 'The New Theocrats')
"Drugs. If they did not exist our governors would have invented them in order to prohibit them and so make much of the population vulnerable to arrest, imprisonment, seizure of property, and so on." (Vanity Fair Nov. 1998, 'Shredding the Bill of Rights')
From Vidal's book, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace," 2002 : "Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues. We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is now the greatest terrorist of all..."
From Vidal's Book, "Dreaming War," 2002, 'The Last Defender of the American Republic' interview with GV by Marc Cooper: "Americans have no idea of the extent of their government's mischief. The number of military strikes we have made unprovoked, against other countries, since 1947-48 is more than 250. These are major strikes everywhere from Panama to Iran."
From article by Steven Kotler, "Vidal and Condon," VLifemag.com, March 2005: "There's no such thing as a gay person or a straight person. Some of us are more of one thing than others, but no one is any one thing. There are no identifying signs, no simple classifications. Human beings are human beings, there are no two alike."
Gore Vidal is a man who has lived true to himself, and in doing so has become an astute observer of human weakness and its often detrimental, if not tragic, impact upon humanity's history. He lives on his own terms, a true patriot fighting for the republic.