from the liberal arts college to the grave...,
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how it really happened...,
the real terrifying thing is the equanimity and detachment:
William F. Buckley Jr. RIPs are floating around with occasional embeds from his discussion with Noam Chomsky on Firing Line, which I've seen before. Or thought I'd seen: happens what I saw was just a 20 minute segment of an hour long program. The entire 50 minutes can be watched here. I'd missed the best parts.
One thing I learned, seeing the new material, is that that oft-quoted bit about smashing Gore Vidal's face in - "stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I will sock you in your godamn face, and you will stay plastered" - is really just a harmless Buckley Jr. catchphrase:
BUCKLEY: The reason I raise this - and I rejoice in your disposition to argue the Vietnam question - especially when I understand what an act of self control this must involve...
CHOMSKY: It does, it really does. I think it's the kind of issue where sometimes I lose my temper. [laughing] Maybe not tonight.
BUCKLEY: Maybe not tonight. [laughing] Because if you did I'd sock you in the goddam face.
By way of a toast: Buckley's occasional confusion of the ironically raised eyebrow with making scary bug eyes shouldn't detract from his otherwise fine reputation for good humor while on camera with insufferably radical leftists. In the same regard, his longstanding and increasingly outspoken friendships with many a fine liberal probably tells us more about said liberals than Buckley.
Watching him wink - I don't know how to describe the winks, he winks to the audience, the camera, his guest, almost at random - and his comradely clowning I tend to think he was only in it for a gas: let us be preposterous together, and entertain this scrupulosity. Like we're all part of the same big circus.
update: And literary talent, such wonderful gifts he had to contribute. It's a loss for all of us.