More on Mailer: War, Concentration, Technology, and Christianity

This passage, too, from The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History has rather deeply affected me over the years, as has the post discussed here. This passage touches further on the deleterious effects of concentration (of technology and the corporation, specifically), and offers what i believe to be a rather reasonable assessment of the battle for and with-in the Christian soul. For an East Coast urban Jew, Mailer, I believe, possessed some brilliant insight into the world of the Middle American Christian.

[Mailer] came at last to the saddest conclusion of them all for it went beyond the war in Vietnam. He had come to decide that the center of America might be insane. The country had been living with a controlled, even fiercely controlled schizophrenia which had been deepening with the years. Perhaps the point had now been passed. Any man or woman who was devoutly Christian and worked for the American Corporation, had been caught in an unseen vise whose pressure could split their mind from their soul. For the center of Christianity was a mystery, a son of God, and the center of the corporation was a detestation of mystery, a worship of technology. Nothing was more intrinsically opposed to technology than the bleeding heart of Christ. The average American, striving to do his duty, drove him further every day into working for Christ, and drove equally further each day in the opposite direction–into working for the absolute computer of the corporation. Yes and no, 1 and 0. Every day the average American drove himself further into schizophrenia; the average American believed in two opposites more profoundly apart than any pervious schism in the Christian soul. Christians had been able to keep some kind of sanity for centuries while countenancing love against honor, desire versus duty, even charity opposed in the same heart to the lust for power–that was difficult to balance but not impossible. The love of Mystery of Christ, however, and the love of no Mystery whatsoever, had brought the country to a state of suppressed schizophrenia so deep that the foul brutalities of the war in Vietnam were the only temporary cure possible for the condition–since the expression of brutality offers a definite if temporary relief to the schizophrenic. So the average good Christian American secretly loved the war in Vietnam. It opened his emotions. He felt compassion for the hardships and the sufferings of the American boys in Vietnam, even the Vietnamese orphans. [. . .] [America] would need a war so long as technology expanded on every road of communication, and the cities and corporations spread like cancer; the good Christian Americans needed the war or they would lose their Christ. [All emphasis mine. – NPO]

Over at the GW Patriot‘s web-log, Patrick Ford linked to the LA Times piece of Senator McCain’s “University of Spoiled Children” (And Reggie Push!) comment; a discussion of some interest on the perils of technology and modernity ensues in the comment box. Check it out here.

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2 Responses

  1. More on Mailer: War, Concentration, Technology, and Christianity…

    The average American, striving to do his duty, drove him further every day into working for Christ, and drove equally further each day in the opposite direction–into working for the absolute computer of the corporation. ……

  2. I’d never read this before. Very moving.

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