The Armies of the Night

Norman Mailer

"The pleasure of speaking in public was the sensitivity if offered: with every phrase one was better or worse, close or less close to the existential promise of truth, it feels true, which hovers on good occasions like a presence between speaker and audience."

 

p. 28

"In Brooklyn, he had taken this for granted, at Harvard he had thought it was a by-product of being at Harvard, but in the Army he discovered that the humor was probably in the veins and the roots of the local history of every state and county in America so Mailer never felt more like an American than when he was naturally obscene."

 

p. 48

"The war in Vietnam was an obscene war, the worst war the nation had ever been in, and so its logic might compel sacrifice from those who were not so accustomed. And, out of hardly more than a sense of old habit and old anger, he scolded the press for their lies, and their misrepresentation, for their guilt in creating a psychology over the last twenty years in the average American which made ware like Vietnam possible; then he surrendered the mike and stepped down and the applause was plesant."

 

p. 79

"Rather, one marched on the Pentagon because ... because ... and here the reasons became so many and so curious and so vague, so political and so primitive, that there was no need, or perhaps no possibility to talk about it yet, one could only ruminate over the morning coffee."

 

p. 86

 

"Mailer always supposed he had felt important and unimportant in about as many ways as a man could feel; now he felt important in a new way. He felt his own age, forty-four, felt it as if he were finally one age, not seven, felt as if he were a solid embodiment of bone, muscle, flesh, and vested substance, rather than the will, heart, mind, and sentiment to be a man, as if he had arrived, as if this picayune arrest had been his Rubicon."

 

p. 138

 

"They were not years he enjoyed to look back upon, but he had learned one lesson in prison then, and it came back to him now: in jail, a man who wished to keep his sanity, must never anticipate, never expect, never hope with such high focus of hope that disappointment would be painful. Because there was no place for disappointment to go in prison, except back into one's own cells."

 

p. 165

 

"Mailer was bored with such arguments. The Hawks were smug and self-righteous, the Doves were evasive of the real question."

 

p. 184

 

"Mailer was a Left Conservative. So he had his own point of view. To himself he would suggest that he tried to think in the style of Marx in order to attain certain values suggested by Edmund Burke. Since he was a conservative, he would begin at the root. He did not see all wars as bad. He could conceive of wars which might be noble. But the war in Vietnam was bad for America because it was a bad war, as all wars are bad if they consist of rich boys fighting poor boys when the rich boys have an advantage in the weapons."

 

p. 185

 

© Kyuwon Lee, 2020.