Cancelling Mailer

Kevin Power at the Dublin Review of Books:

Roughly speaking, “The White Negro” contends that, in the aftermath of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, the human race as a whole now finds itself in the same psychic and physical predicament experienced by black people in America in the 1950s – that is, deindividualised, oppressed by violent systems of control, risking their lives every time they walked down the street. To live authentically in such a world, Mailer suggests, we must become “white Negroes”, or hipsters. Our morality must be psychopathic – radically free from inherited codes. Our philosophy must be existentialist. We must live like teenage hoodlums – weighing up the “therapeutic” value of “beat[ing] in the brains of a candy store keeper”.

“The White Negro” is a strikingly paranoid piece of work. It is also racist, though in a more or less well-intentioned sort of way: unlike, say, the viciously and openly anti-Black Alabama politician George Wallace, Mailer had actually spent time with, and had thought carefully about the lives of, Black people.

more here.