Anew game is in town, and the town seemsnentranced by the unHmited thrills it holdsnfor the wealthy and the influential. If it isnever mass marketed (which, of course, will not benfor a while), it will be entitled “The Joy of Carnage.”nThe rules are simple: if you are famous, powerful,nbored, jaded, cynical, fashionable, adequately moneyednand notably liberal, you pick out a felon, a hoodlum,na criminal, a whore and declare him or her an intellectual,na genius, a poet, an artist, a philosopher and,nfirst and foremost, a victim of American inhumanity.nThe big winner is to choose a murderer; the morenbestial he is, the more admiration his (or her) sponsornreceives from the enchanted literary-chic circles andnhigh society of New York. Not that the game is entirelynnew —a couple of decades ago the big hit was anslovenly French deviate by the name of Genet whomnthe refined consciences of the liberal culture promulgatednas a saint. Recently, two prides of the Gothamncognoscenti—Mr. Norman Mailer, a flinty WorldnWar II correspondent (declared by the unified Americannleft to be a serious writer), and Mr. Robert Silvers,nthe editor of the New York Review of Books and andashing product of Brooks Bros, cum Herbert Marcuse’snphilosophical gangsterism—arranged a parolenfor a convicted killer in whom they detected all thensupreme moral sensitivity and subtlety of feelings tonwhich a modem American can pretend. Their “quelncoup!” made people in Elaine’s, Soho Charcuterienand the de la Renta salon green with envy. It seems,nhowever, that soon thereafter their trouvaille monstrouslynslew an innocent man. The question remainsnunanswered: Did this small, bloody complication enhancenMessrs. Mailer’s and Silvers’s status in NewnYork’s best social circles.’ We tend to believe thatnit did.nAs faithful followers of the grand milieu’s mores,nwe suggest that the game could be improved by indictingnMessrs. Mailer and Silvers as accessories tonmanslaughter. What delicious suspense it would bento see them in court—Mr. Silvers fresh from hisnMadison Avenue clothier, Mr. Mailer in his slipshodncountercultural threads (as befits a man who has tonsupport countless progeny from innumerable, if legal,nmarriages).nAnd, naturally, the New York Times is no slouchnwhen it comes to shining on the scene of intellectualnelegance. In its book section, under the headingn”Editors’ Choice,” we could (on August 16, 1981)nread an entry:n”In the Belly of the Beast,” by Jack Henry Abbott.n(Random House, $11.95.) The author’s 20 yearsnin American prisons; introduction by NormannMailer.nThe author is, of course, the new literary darling mentionednabove who is suspected of having slit the throatnof a harmless person. We will never get the chancento cease to admire the New York Times Book Review’sneditors’ choices. What’s even more depressing is thatnwe won’t ever reach their moral and intellectual refinementnand be able to make such choices. Let’s havena look—by dint of a few quotations from Mr. Mailer’snintroduction—at what the New York Times BooknReview’s literary, intellectual, moral and philosophicalnchoices actually amount to:nOut of Abbott’s letters, however, came an intellectual,na radical, a potential leader, a man obsessednwith a vision of more elevated human relations inna better world that revolution could forge. Hisnmind, at its happiest, wanted to speak from hisnphilosophical height across to yours. … It is thatnnot only the worst of the young are sent to prison,nbut the best—that is, the proudest, the bravest, thenmost daring, the most enterprising, and the mostnundefeated of the poor…. If you can conceive of ansociety {it is very difficult these days) that is morenconcerned with the creative potential of violentnyoung men than with the threat they pose to thensuburbs, then a few solutions for future prisonsnmay be there. Somewhere between the French ForeignnLegion and some prodigious extension of OutwardnBound may lie the answer, at least for allnthose juvenile delinquentsnwho are drawn to crime as anpositive experience—becausenit is more exciting,nmore meaningful, more mysterious,nmore transcendental,nmore religious than anynother experience they havenknown.nWe in America’s midland onlynwish that Mr. Mailer and hisnideological brethren at the NewnYork Review of Books would,nduring the next social season,nhave an opportunity—in thenstreets of New York, or somewherenin the suburbs—to confrontna few juvenile delinquents andnshare with them the exciting,nmeaningful, mysterious, transcendental,nreligious experience ofnthroat-cutting. DnnnSocialnRegistern^^•^•^^^•^45nXovember/December 1981n