Lipton’s Journal/February 14, 1955/570

From Project Mailer

It can be stated as a philosophical proposition I believe that pleasure and idea are antithetical, yin and yang. To have society man must be deprived of pleasure, for it is in the frustration of pleasure that reason (desperate to save the body from the bio-chemical poison of frustration) advances into the mystical unknown.

So intellectuals are unhappy because their need is to convert thoughts into ideas, and the intellectual knows pleasure only when he has expressed the thought in an idea which is so elaborated, so “approximately” perfect that he may relax back into vague thought. For thought is the state of pleasure. It is only when we attempt to convert it to an idea that pain comes—the pain of birth, of separating an embodiment from the total. As our idea that “man is the measure of all things” has grown through history, so woman’s child-birth has become progressively more painful. Child-birth now is an idea rather than a thought; an orgasm of pain rather than a swell of muscular ebb and flow.

Adele[1] often comments in our bed, “Why are you frowning so? You look in pain? You look angry and tortured?” Every time she makes such a remark I am in the process of trying to shape a thought into an idea. I am trying to give birth. My mighty mother is in me, but I have books, ideas, projects, theses, etc., instead of birthing children.


  1. Adele Morales (1925 – 2015), who he married in April 1954, was Mailer’s second wife. The mother of his daughters Danielle (b. 1957), and Elizabeth Anne (b. 1959), she separated from Mailer in early 1961 a few months after he stabbed her with a penknife, just missing her heart. He pled guilty to felonious assault and was given a suspended sentence. They divorced in 1962.