Monday, November 05, 2007

each little phrase a sub-property (Mailer 2.0)

Earlier I mentioned how dazzled I was when I re-read Norman Mailer's Miami and the Siege of Chicago. I'm still dazzled. I love the way his figures (windy, awkward conceits) run amok. Here's one...about styles of speechifying:

Where Lyndon Johnson spoke and wrote in phrases which could be hyphenated like Mayor Daley's temporary fences on the way to the Amphitheatre, making you keep your eye off the weeds in the vacant lot, and on the dual highway ahead, so Hubert Humphrey's phrases were like building plots in sub-developments, each little phrase was a sub-property - the only trouble was that the plots were all in different towns, little cliches from separate speeches made on unrelated topics in distinctly different years were no plumped down next to each other in the rag-bag map of his mind. He went on for many minutes planting shrubs in each separate little plot.... (p. 119)

And about the Yippie experience in Chicago:

Some went out forever, some went screaming down the alleys of the mad where cockroaches drive like Volkswagens on the oilcloth of the moon, gluttons found vertigo in centrifuges of consciousness, vomitoriums of ingestion; others found love, some manifest of love in light, in shards of Nirvana, sparks of satori.... (p. 135)