Dissent Magazine

A Quarterly of Politics and Culture
"A pillar of leftist intellectual provocation" writes the New York Times, "devoted to slaying orthodoxies on the right and on the left." www.dissentmagazine.org
  • October 20, 2012 11:50 am

    Norman Mailer’s Birthday Party

    Dissent, 1973:

    This past winter, while the rest of the country was marking off the troubled months with an inauguration, POW returns, and sky-rocketing food prices, adult New York, or a part of it, was occupying its days with a fornicating Marlon Brando, a million-dollar vase, and a birthday party for Norman Mailer—a movie, a pot, and a soiree. Each of these events involved names, money, promotion, “importance.” That is, prestigious stars whose names lent to the events a status that in turn enhanced their names; lots of money, relatively speaking ($5.00 for a movie is as voguishly outrageous as $1 million for a pot, which is not much less astonishing than $50.00 for a birthday party even when it’s Norman Mailer’s); self-promotion whose success seemed to depend primarily on shamelessness; and an aura of precedent-shattering “importance” wildly disproportionate to any actual impact on the life of our nation….