Lipton’s Journal/December 17, 1954/61

From Project Mailer

I learned a practical matter the other day. When negotiations are going on, the Order of Procedure determines to a great degree whether one will get one’s point or not. It is critical whether one takes up first the items one is bound to win on or to lose on, depending on the psychology of the opponents and the totality of the situation. So in the U.N. when they argue whether a question is procedural or substantial, thereit is no mere waste of words among diplomats. They are wrestling for what makes the victory. Their sensitivity to manipulation is as acute as a hipster’s ear for jazz. Essentially they are grasping abstract relations. So, too, for politicians, political leaders, athletes, etc. There is no such thing as a big or an important man who does not have some special sensitivity. That is why, try as we will, we are always obliged to respect big men. No matter how corrupt, they have the special sensitivity, one way or another, which makes for greatness. That’s why Bob[1] always adores “name” people. It’s far from simple snobbery. He recognizes their special sensitivity.


  1. A prominent Baltimore psychoanalyst and writer, Robert Lindner (1914 – 1956) became acquainted with Mailer after reading Lindner’s 1952 sharp critique of current psychoanalytic practice, Prescription for Rebellion (1952), published by Mailer’s publisher, Rinehart. The letter, which contained both praise and criticism for Lindner’s ideas, led to a close friendship over the next four years, including many visits and the sharing of work, including Lipton’s. See extended note on entry 56.