Mailer Reads on Apollo Moonshot
Criticizes Radicals For Their Nihilism
"Revolutionaries have two options: one is to be militant, and the other is to think," author Norman Mailer '43 said at Harvard last night.
Mailer had unkind words for "humorless radicals" both before and after reading excerpts from his forthcoming book on the Apollo 13 moon-landing to a crowd of 500 in Sanders Theatre.
"We now measure how radical we are by how nihilistic we are," Mailer said. "This is a nightmarish time for rational thought."
"The main fault with the Left's way of thinking is its idea that technology is merely in the hands of the wrong people," he added. "Maybe technology itself is the malignancy, and whoever deals with it gets consumed by it."
Three hostile questions in succession greeted Mailer at the close of his reading. One of the critics, before asking the author if he had a penis, asked him to pledge that he would donate the royalties from his book to the black liberation, anti-war, or ecology cause.
"I wouldn't dream of doing that," Mailer replied. "I'd rather use the money I earn to make movies than to give it to some bureaucrat I don't know. I'm not that nice."
Criticized by another for not working to overthrow those in power in America. Mailer said that "mystical ideas are profoundly revolutionary; you can't be a revolutionary without believing that man is extraordinary."
"Throwing bricks is good for some guys and bad for others," Mailer added. "The main thing is to do it authentically."
The largest question raised by the moon-landing, Mailer said, "was whether God or the Devil was at the helm. When it happened, I felt that the world had gone forever out of the control of the people I know."
"The landing suggested that the purpose of WASPS was not to establish Protestantism or corporations or to fight Communism," he read, "but to take us to the stars."
The Apollo 13 astronauts were "men of iron-strange, plasticized, half-communicating Americans," Mailer added. When they placed a metal U.S. flag on the moon's surface, he read, "patriotism, corporations, and national taste were all occupying the same head of a pin."