Lipton’s Journal/December 1, 1954/6

From Project Mailer

One should always listen attentively to what children say. Because they are never burdened with the baggage we assume to be knowledge. That is why their questions are so difficult to answer. If there is a total unity, a sea from which we emerge and to which we return, then children are closer to it, it is less far behind them. That is why you cannot deceive a child about the state of your emotions. Language has not yet succeeded in severing it from the universe. It is also why children from nine to thirteen let us say are invariably so dull. They have learned language, they have lost their early instinctual apprehension of the universe,[1] and so the child of ten is a caricature of the adult, all projects, all plans, all concerted emptiness. Particularly boys. Last night Susy[2] said to me, “What is a scientist?” and indeed it is not a question one can answer easily.



notes

  1. The richest exploration of Mailer’s views on the pre-knowledge of children is in “The Book of the First-Born,” as yet un-published.
  2. Susan Mailer, the only child of NM and his first wife Beatrice Silverman, and the oldest of his nine children, was born in Hollywood August 28, 1949.