Lipton’s Journal/December 29, 1954/99

From Project Mailer

Saints and psychopaths. I had better define psychopath. The criminal psychopath, the assassin, is merely a special case of the psychopath. What characterizes the psychopath is that the present moment, the present person or thing or action which accompanies him is more real than anything which has gone before or will come later. The violent act is not so much the unfeeling act as the present act—one suspends all sense of consequence, one suspends one’s view of society. So, there are psychopaths who will never kill a fly, but who must nonetheless wander through each experience without sense of the past or future, committed to the present experience, finding it more vivid than anything before or since.

In a peculiar way, a bureaucrat, and his extension, a totalitarian, is a petrified psychopath—he gives to the office, the machine, the party, the enormously vivid sense of the present reality. Instead of using the present experience as soul food—the psychopath is always ravenous—the bureaucrat serves the present experience into the mirror of his soul, the office, and obtains his reaction from the way it bounces back. The saint is the opposite end of the spectrum—the present is insignificant to him—he sees all people and all things as part of the past and much more as part of the future.

This spectrum which I believe is the spectrum of the human soul, is present in all people in varying degree, surfaceness, and intensity. Most people have the saint-psychopath so deeply buried in themselves that they are for most of their lives or all of their lives simply social animals, and never adventurers.