In every sense—stylistic, cultural, political—he was stretched between two worlds. Never programmatic enough for the Old Left, neither was he ever anarchic enough to fully sign on to the New Left’s Grand Guignol. Although at times Mailer liked to characterize himself as the Devil (or at least a devil) while criticizing America’s “Faustian” ambitions, he was far from Goethe’s “spirit that negates.” Rather, he found in his own Hebraic, and specifically Talmudic, tradition (his grandfather was a rabbi), perhaps his deepest conviction: the sense that there is something central, necessary, and even sacred in doubt, in the nuanced weighing of competing intellectual and moral and spiritual claims. And this allowed him to put his own ego, his outsized talents, his brilliance and narcissism, in the service of a higher calling. Because of that, The Armies of the Night remains one of the most enlivening, and most deeply American, testaments ever written.
12:00 AM - January 5, 2009
In his finest work, Norman Mailer applied subjective journalism to the powerful, and to himself
Disappointing Deadspin - It broke the Manti Te’o story, but then stopped reporting and resumed trashing
Fox News not outraged by retailers’ War on Thanksgiving - As giant stores commercialize the last holdout, Bill O’Reilly & Co. shrug
A bogus NY Post piece sets off a frenzy - Serious problems with column alleging Census rigged unemployment for Obama
GoldieBlox picks an unfair fight with the Beastie Boys - A dismal press performance on a clear case of aggressive copyright infringement
BuzzFeed’s all-positive books section - It doesn’t make sense to pledge positivity if your aim is to provide readers with critics’ takes on new books. It makes more sense if your aim is to cultivate a thriving community.
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
The NYT’s obituary for the South African leader, written by Bill Keller
How two alienated, angry geeks broke the story of the year
In magnificent defense of snark
An obituary for a small-town newspaper
Timelapse of a photo-realistic painting of the actor being done on an iPad
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.