Lipton’s Journal/February 1, 1955/411

From Project Mailer

A note on my father.[1] I have been acting like an analyst toward him, but I have taken a gamble no analyst would have taken. I have made the bet that he is more artist than psychopath, and so he will not gamble seriously again because I have given him my love. But there is a big danger. For if I have had a fundamental misapprehension of my father, and it is crucial to him to despise himself (which I do not believe, but may be possible) then, given my tolerance, he will have to attempt to destroy it by striking out, by gambling seriously. But my instinct told me the opposite, it told me that he was enough like me so that he cannot repel love but instead is drawn to it, needs it, respects it so basically that impotence for him as for me comes from the specter of wounding seriously someone we love. Like me, my father wounds people who love him only in passing, reluctantly, lightly, teasingly. He has no real desire to cut a hole or smash a head.


  1. Mailer’s hope that his father would stop gambling proved illusory. Barney Mailer gambled until the end of his life, and shortly after his death a woman presented his wife with his notarized promissory note for $26,000, which the family paid.