“Heaven, if it exists, has just gotten a lot more interesting.” Clive said to me when he rang to tell me that Gore Vidal had died.
Sitting poolside in Ravello Vidal declared, "As you can see, my needs are simple." Asked whether the setting inspired him, he wisecracked, "Yeah, it inspires me to write a film script to pay my bills."
Long before today’s celebrities gave parties for a living, Vidal gave them for the pleasure of his friends’ company. And although there must have been many parties in the past, and there probably would be many parties in the future, the most enjoyable for me was a three-day bash Vidal arranged in his villa in Ravello. It was beautifully planned and exquisitely executed, even if there was plenty of skinny-dipping.
When ask to choose the proverbial ‘someone’ with whom he’d be willing to spend the rest of his life on a desert island, Vidal refused to answer. I see the wry, half-smile of satisfaction that his protective armor had remained securely in place, and remember the voice cold and dry as a martini.
Vidal the well-bred young man of scintillating brilliance who tried to fashion a career for himself in the difficult context in which this fashioning had to take place, the late 20th-century America, an environment not only increasingly hostile to thought, but also to patrician entitlement and, you sometimes suspect, intelligence per se.
In his memoir, “Point To Point Navigation” he imagines himself with Johnny Carson on the balcony in Ravello.
What’s that phrase you use all the time for the country?
The United States of Amnesia.
I’ll open with that, then you read of the “latest” Iraq election news with the quote from 1967.
But where do we do this?
Oh, we’ll find a show.
There isn’t one. Remember? You’re dead.
No, no. I’m just living down at the beach, I think it’s called in seclusion.
"Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge," he once wrote, "all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. "Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."