Sunday, 20 March 2016

Gore Vidal (ILI): Personality Type Analysis

Gore Vidal, born Eugene Louis Vidal, was an American writer, author of novels, plays, screenplays, essays, memoirs. Also occasional politician (Democratic candidate for Congress in upper New York in 1960, Democratic primary for California senator in 1982, both unsuccessful).

Gore Vidal also wrote two volumes of memoirs, and wrote and spoke about his life many times. In that, his focus is always very much on the people he knew, on four levels, with overlaps: his family, famous and/or powerful people he met; people he liked and loved; and people he hated and despised.

As example of overlaps: he was sort-of related to Jacqueline Kennedy, and during John F. Kennedy's (EIE) administration, he often socialised with them. That is a period in his life he kept referring to, clearly proud of his proximity to them. Yet he and Bobby Kennedy hated each other, which led Mrs Kennedy to say once in public that she barely knew Vidal. That led him to cut ties with her, irrevocably.

He also cut ties with his mother, Nina and with the author Truman Capote, writing even after their deaths with nothing but contempt and hatred, yet calmly explaining, in his writings, precisely what he despised in them.

On the other hand, he kept throughout his entire life a very close circle of friends, especially his life partner/secretary Howard Austen and the couple Paul Newman-Joanne Woodward. He also treasured forever the memory of his perfect love, Jimmie Trimble, who died fighting in WWII.

The above, very consistent during his life, shows the Gamma values of R+F harsh judgement in relationships, but more specifically the all-or-nothing quality in ILIs and LIEs.

Gore Vidal enjoyed intellectual debates with people he despised, where he could attack them mercilessly, most famously William F. Buckley in 1968 (there is a documentary, 'Best of Enemies'). When Buckley died, his comment was, "RIP WFB - in Hell". Again an example of F as quadra value.

Most of his novels were either sophisticated, factual yet opinionated historical novels (as if fell to him, he said, to teach the correct history) or quirky novels about slightly "stoned" (my phrase) alternate universes, such as 'Messiah', 'Live from Golgotha', 'Duluth'. Later in life, he got increasingly opinionated about history in politics, in a know-it-all way, as if his own interpretations were the only non-stupid ones. This is perfectly consistent with the ILI's T1, P2, and L8.

Despite calling himself "America's biographer", he spent decades living mostly in Italy: in Rome and then Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast. Yet it wasn't that he was attracted to the places as such; rather, he was attracted to their connection to the ancient world - yet another T focus.

Gore Vidal wrote the first US novel to portray homosexuality openly, in 1948, 'The City and the Pillar'. Although successful, it also damaged his career, something that surprised him - an indication of his obliviousness to E matters (possible E4).

All of that points very clearly to ILI as Gore Vidal's type.

Recommended sources and reading: Gore Vidal's two volumes of memoirs are "Palimpsest" and "Point to Point Navigation". Fred Kaplan's biography "Gore Vidal" is useful. 

To learn more about ILI, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

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