The Times THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 13 2001 'Ruin more beautiful than the building' BY ANN TRENEMAN NORMAN MAILER, America's greatest living novelist, raged against terrorism last night and said that the remaining steel prongs of the World Trade Centre would inevitably become a national monument. "It is more beautiful than the building was," Mr Mailer, 78, who described the towers as "two huge buck teeth", said. "I think they will keep it. If they have any sense they will. And politicians usually have exactly that kind of sense, if no other. I don't disapprove of that. You've got that many people killed who've had nothing to do with bringing on their own death other than working in a monument to corporatism." Mr Mailer was speaking to The Times from his home in Provincetown on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He said that like everyone else in America he had been watching television non-stop for hours. "That only happens a few times in your life. Jack Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Maybe ten times." He said he was given a running commentary on the attack in New York by several of his children (he has been married six times and has nine children) who live in his old flat in Brooklyn Heights, across the river from the World Trade Centre. Terrorism was detestable, he said, and violated the human desire to control their deaths to some extent. "If I am going to be killed, I want to see the eyes of the man who shoots me. I don't want to be killed by surprise. "Apart from all the other horrors of the Nazis, the true horror was the way they gassed people who thought they were going to get a shower. That was the ultimate horror. This form of terrorism is equal to that." Mr Mailer, a critic of American power and governments over many years, said several ironies would come out of the attack. "One benefit from all this horror is that we may be able to stop talking about Star Wars." It would also hurt globalisation, of which he disapproves. He said that America and globalism were inextricably linked. "It is McDonald's cubed. "Which huge corporation is now going to invest billions and billions and trillions of dollars in something that can be destroyed by terrorism? So globalism takes a blow. Star Wars takes a blow. Those are the two ironies that I can withdraw from this with some feeling that it has not been a total disaster. On the other hand the damage it has done to America is immense." "America is frightened by the sophistication of the attack and that will fuel the paranoia that is inherent in such a young country. "In America it is very hard to find the house or hospital in which you were born. It's all been changed. "In a certain sense, all Americans are actors because in a spiritual sense they never know which bed they are going to sleep in. They are like actors on tour. "That does create an awful lot of paranoia. One doesn't feel rooted and one doesn't know where the threats are coming from. It is very easy for the imagination to swell and fester." Now there would be a new patriotism, he said. "People are going to care again for a while. I'm always dubious about patriotism. But when our country hasn't any young people who are willing to die for an idea, that country is in trouble. So now there will be people who will be eager to fight a war in America. The only question is how are they going to find the enemy?" Mr Mailer believes that the attacks were masterminded by Islamic terrorists willing to die for their cause and that Americans must begin to try to understand why so many people abhor their country. "What Americans refuse to recognise is that large parts of the world, particularly the most backward nations, see us as cultural oppressors and aesthetic oppressors. We come in and we insist on establishing enclaves of our food there, like McDonald's. We put up our high-rise buildings until the meanest, scummiest capital in the world will nonetheless have a ring of high-rise hotels and buildings around their airports. "A lot of people resent it profoundly. They don't have money. "They don't have comfortable lives, they don't have democratic government but what they do have is roots. That's all they have and this is taking it away. America is doing that. Until America realises the damage it is doing by insisting that that way of life, the huge profit-making way of life, is not necessarily a good fit for most countries, we are going to be in trouble. "We are going to be the most hated nation on earth." Mr Mailer, whose first novel was the brilliant The Naked and the Dead in 1948, has written about 30 books including Armies of the Night, The Executioner's Song and Harlot's Ghost, a 1,310-page epic of life in the CIA.