Palimpsest

Palimpsest

A Memoir

Book - 1995
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This explosively entertaining memoir abounds in gossip, satire, historical apercus, and trenchant observations. Vidal's compelling narrative weaves back and forth in time, providing a whole view of the author's celebrated life, from his birth in 1925 to today, and features a cast of memorable characters--including the Kennedy family, Marlon Brando, Anais Nin, and Eleanor Roosevelt. of photos.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c1995
ISBN: 9780679440383
0679440380
Branch Call Number: 813 VID
Characteristics: 435 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm

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IulianHectorNarada
Oct 03, 2015

p. 31:

I cannot think just how or why my coming together with Jimmie happened to take place on the white tile floor of the bathroom at Merrywood. I suppose that the butler was on the prowl at the time. But there we were, belly to belly, in the act of becoming one. As it turned out, Jimmie had been involved with another boy, while I, despite wet dreams, had never even masturbated. As it was, mutual masturbation was impossible with Jimmie – too painful for me because his large callused hands gripped a cock like a baseball bat. So we simply came together, reconstituting the original male that Zeus had split in two. Yet “sexual pleasure could hardly account for the huge delight we took in one another’s company.” There was no guilt, no sense of taboo. But then we were in Arcadia, not diabolic Eden.

p. 34-5:

We went downstairs to the men's room with its tall marble urinals and large cubicles. I wondered, what, if anything, he felt. After all, men are not boys. Fortunately, our bodies still fitted perfectly together, as we promptly discovered inside one of the cubicles, standing up, belly to belly, talking of girls and marriage and coming simultaneously.

Thus, we were whole for what proved to be the last time for the two of us—and for me, if not for him, for good. I not only never again encountered the other half, but by the time I was twenty-five, I had given up all pursuit, settling for a thousand brief anonymous adhesions, as Walt Whitman would put it, where wholeness seems, for an instant, to be achieved. Quite enough, I think, if the real thing has happened. At least, in Platonic terms, I had completed myself once.

e
einstein_5
Oct 03, 2015

p. 283:

Chris says that there was no affair, as girls from a family like hers did not do that sort of thing. When I told Joanne this, she was dubious; “I came from the same sort of family in Georgia, and we certainly did that sort of thing if we were in love or thought we were.” I can’t think that an experienced boy like Jimmie would not have made love to her. Most southerners in that latitude were sexually mature at an early age. On the other hand, sex was not as easy then as it was to be after the war and before AIDS. The back of the car was still the favored venue should the family not be out of the house, while if there were full-time servants, then al fresco was in order; or that airless game room in the cellar. Early maturity also made sex between boys a natural business, though there were certain rules that “straight” boys generally observed (this weird adjective was unknown to us, by the way; if we had thought that a word was necessary, it would have been ‘normal’ versus ‘queer’, which we were not—we were just messing around). Rules: Boys did not kiss each other, only girls, and many of us thought that kissing had been invented by girls in the first place, because it was not always pleasant for us when the increased estrogen flow made their saliva’s taste unpleasant; cock-sucking and buggery were unthinkable. Didn’t it hurt? Wasn’t it dirty? Otherwise, we were true pagans who knew nothing about categories. Obviously, there were sissies, whom we made cruel fun of, and there were dangerous older men, like the one who sat next to me in Keith’s Theater and put his hand on my crotch. I fled. Every boy I knew had had a similar experience. What we were all up to was a perfectly natural homoeroticism, which some continued for the rest of their lives without lapsing into the physically more complex homosexuality or, for whatever reason, into serious heterosexuality, an “avoidance” that was the one true heresy which so bewildered and chagrined Anais, goddess of love therapy and astrologist divine.

Jimmie was both homoerotic and heteroerotic. I suppose I am curious about the balance between the two in his nature. But then when one lover goes into shock at the news of his death and another mourns him to the end of his life, we have moved far beyond sex or eroticism and on to the wilder shores of love, and shipwreck.

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