Lipton’s Journal/December 31, 1954/156

From Project Mailer

The homo-erotic corollary. This is for Bob Lindner. And with his insights he always goes smack like a wonderful comic figure (comic in the great sense) into the center of the problem, and then moves out again, or will until his Good Luck fails him, and Bob wants his Good Luck to fail him, and the Devil to take over. Kid, it’s [Paul] Verlaine and [Arthur] Rimbaud all over again.[1]

Anyway, the homo-erotic corollary. I start with the premise that all people, all men and women are bi-sexual. I believe this is natural. It is true for animals, and it makes sense, for love is best when it’s unified (at last I find some agreement with analyst although what a difference) and when we love someone we shouldwould make love with them, or we would if society did not prevent it or make it so painful. Given my premise, the pure heterosexual is a cripple—society has completely submerged one half of thehis nature.

And this is usually any originality of mind. So, too, is the pure homosexual—and I suspect that pure homosexuals are invariably very unfleshly. People like [André] Gide,[2] Ivan Von Auw,[3] etc. They are mind, they have denied their bodies, and sex is invariably painful to them, although in recompense their minds have saintly qualities. (Gide and Gertrude Stein).[4]

But the bi-sexual who has a very strong sense of the sex in their souls, of the creatively sexual content or quality of their souls, which we describe crudely by saying this person is sexy or vital, or seductive, usually leads a life which is nominally heterosexual. Thus, I who am profoundly bi-sexual, have not had a homosexual contact since I was fourteen; so, too, Jonesie [James Jones];[5] so, Adele; so, Bob; so, Johnnie [Lindner’s wife] (I think);[6] so, Adeline [Naiman];[7] so, Bea; so, Gandy [Brody];[8] so, Miles and Barbara Forst;[9] so, Mickey Knox.[10] He fled the consequences of bi-sexuality, as indeed I still do.

On the other hand, there are many bi-sexuals with “sexual souls” who are nominally homosexualswho seem to be entirely homosexual. Toby [Tobias Schneebaum],[11] Mike [Harrington],[12] camps, queens, and athletes. Invariably, they are very handsome men, who in their adolescence began to sense with inner terror what it meant of have sexual soul in a sexless society. It meant that their instincts to screw many women and, too, many men, (and the ease with which they could do it, given their beauty) would bring them into outrageous conflict with society, violent conflict with society because finally the tendency of the bi-sexual person is to look for the orgy which at its best could be the physical expression of the communion of souls.

But in the world, one need only mention the orgy to see and feel the dangers. So, the ‘homo-erotic’ is a bi-sexual who often choses homosexuality unconsciously because it is safer, despite its obvious disadvantages, than the open bi-sexual life, or even the wild heterosexual life, yet, and this is the core of it, the monogamous life was too over-bearingunsatisfying for them. As homosexuals, as camps, they could have all the orgies, all the promiscuity their souls truly needed, and the stain of homosexual was not too great a price to pay for the soul pleasures half afforded by the homo-erotic life.their immediate sexuality demanded. And, this, I believe accounts for the great dichotomy in homosexuals which Bob Lindner put his finger on so exactly. There are monogamous unfleshly mindish “pure” homosexuals, and there is a larger world of frightened bi-sexuals who masquerade psychically as homosexuals because in homosexuality they can express their essential and unrootable desire for combinations, experiments, creativity, bright clothing, the ornamentation of love, and all the other benefitsso on.

The homo-erotics are the true “gay” people, just as the “pure” homosexual is the “queen.” He is an egg-head, an intellectual.



notes

  1. Verlaine (1844-1896), a major symbolist poet, took in Rimbaud (1854-1891), an aspiring writer whose work prefigured surrealism after he left home at the age of 17. The two men had a tempestuous drug and alcohol-fueled romantic and literary relationship for two years. Mailer used their competitive/collaborative relationship, along with that of Marx and Friedrich Engels, as provisional models for his with Lindner.
  2. A major French novelist and autobiographer, Gide (1869-1951) won the Nobel Prize in 1947. Mailer cited the influence of Gide’s Corydon (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1924) on his self-interviews collected in The Presidential Papers (1963) and Cannibals and Christians (1966). One of the epigraphs to The Deer Park is Gide’s advice to his critics: “Please do not understand me too quickly.”
  3. Literary agent (1903-91) at the Harold Ober Agency.
  4. NM’s opinion of Stein (1874-1946), one of modernism’s major figures, fluctuated over the years. He wrote of her androgynous appearance and relationship with Picasso in Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man.
  5. NM met James Jones (1921-1977) in 1952, shortly after he gave an admiring blurb to Jones’s 1951 novel, From Here to Eternity. They became close friends almost immediately, in part because of the experiences they shared. Both were young and had written war novels set in the Pacific; both books had enjoyed fantastic sales and reviews; both became famous overnight. NM said later, “We felt like the touchdown twins.” Although it would be brief, his relationship with Jones would be the most intense male friendship of his life.
  6. Eleanor “Johnnie” Johnson (1910-1996) met Lindner while he was a graduate student at Cornell University. They were married in 1937.
  7. A college friend of NM’s sister Barbara at Radcliffe, Adeline (née Lubell) Naiman (1925-2011), was a junior editor at Little, Brown in 1946 when she heard about NM’s novel from her. In January 1946, before he was discharged, she asked to see a rough draft, and in September, NM sent her the first 184 pages. She told her superiors it would be “the finest American novel to come out of the war.”
  8. A painter known for sensuous, figural paintings done with impasto technique, Brody (1925-65) met NM in the early 1950s, and visited him several times in Mexico.
  9. Miles Forst (1923-2006), an artist and teacher, was an important member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. He and his first wife, Barbara, divorced after 14 years of marriage.
  10. NM met Knox (1921-2013), an actor, during his first trip to Hollywood in 1948. They became good friends and in June 1951, NM accompanied Knox on a cross-country drive to California. On the way to Hollywood they made a 20-minute detour through Palm Springs, which NM was scouting as a possible setting for the novel that became The Deer Park. NM wrote more letters to Knox, a blacklisted actor and acting coach who lived in Rome for decades, than to anyone else except his first wife, Bea. See Knox’s memoir, The Good, the Bad, the Dolce Vita: The Adventures of an Actor in Hollywood, Paris and Rome (2004).
  11. Schneebuam (1922-2005), was an artist, AIDS activist, and anthropologist who wrote a memoir, Keep the River on Your Right (1969) about his trip to Peru, where he lived with a cannibal tribe. NM wrote that Schneebaum, his New York neighbor, lent him Donald Webster Cory’s The Homosexual in America (1951), the reading of which led NM to revise his views on gays.
  12. American political theorist and the author of a groundbreaking study of poverty in the U.S., The Other America (1962), Harrington (1928-1989) and NM met at editorial meetings of Dissent magazine, and became friendly.