Gore Vidal, more than any other writer, influenced me to become a writer. As I make clear in the essay, I entered the life of writing with the firm belief that I would never be as good as Vidal, but that I could spend my life trying. Nearly ten years later, I’m still trying, and I still believe that such an effort is one of nobility and integrity.
Readers of Gore Vidal know that his talent and intelligence extended far beyond political analysis. In my essay, I spend a great deal of time talking about his most inventive novels – many of which had little or no political implications. Vidal is, however, for better and for worse, most famous as a historian and social critic.
In the weeks since his death, I’ve found myself longing for Vidal’s brilliant, tough, and funny voice. I’d like to hear him turn his weaponry of wit and wisdom against the insanity of the current Presidential election, and I’d like to hear his insights – memorable and provocative to be sure – on the visible decline and decay of American civilization that he predicted throughout his career.
PopMatters has a smart audience drawn to its cultural commentary. I’m grateful for my post as PopMatters columnist, but I am also glad that Truthout – a website dedicated solely to politics – has reprinted the essay. I hope that the essay will encourage the Truthout audience to take accurate measure of the loss American political culture suffers in the absence of Gore Vidal.
The title of my essay, “The Love of Light,” comes from his extraordinary historical novel Julian:
“The spirit of what we were has fled. With Julian, the light went, and now nothing remains but to let the darkness come, and hope for a new sun and another day, born of time’s mystery and man’s love of light.”