Lipton’s Journal/February 2, 1955/435

From Project Mailer

I’ve spent the last few hours re-reading the Journal and find it less exciting than I thought, and quite un-publishable in its present form (which had been at the back of my mind.)[1] But there is a lot in it. I just have to develop it. One thing I notice is that the wild mystical plunge of the early pages simmers down after a while. I think the early pages merely express the great relief of being able to use words like God, soul, saint, genius, and so forth—at last I was going to allow myself to revel in the cliché.

But I write this note totally off everything. Off Lipton’s—it’s three days now, off Seconal—two days.[2] Feelings of sexual vigor are returning it, and with it more quiet confidence. One thing which bucked me up is that in going over The Deer Park[3] I found that I could add sentences to it which had the nice literary style of the book. So, apparently, I’m not stylistically drained. What I felt as I was writing Deer Park lines this morning was the old feeling of fine tension, very strong H versus very strong S, so that the words seemed to come out like poetry to me.

I can probably generalize on the effects of Lipton’s and Seconal. Lipton’s releases of course—vast amounts of exciting material and trivial material with very little selection. It enables me to work at a tremendous rate, but everything is equally exciting to me. (Which is mystically, philosophically valid, but is almost impossible for a novelist to deal with—at least in my present stage.) That is, I could not write novels on it, although it might be good to turn to it when I got writing blocks. The Seconal is what is bad for it is beginning to give me bad letdowns and deep depressions. Except I know how to handle those too, now. If I can’t sleep, I must just sit up and read instead of trying to fight myself into sleep. Enough for today.


  1. Mailer never changed his mind about publishing of “Lipton’s,” but he made up a set of index cards for the journal, and drew on them through the rest of the decade, most notably for “The White Negro.”
  2. Brand name for Secobarbital sodium, a barbiturate used as a sedative and anticonvulsant. Mailer used this drug regularly in the early and middle 1950s.
  3. Mailer missed several deadlines for submitting the last draft to Putnam’s. He finally completed it at the end of July, and then shed Seconal and benzedrine in Provincetown while awaiting the final proofs. Back in New York, he made the final changes toward the end of the month after taking some mescaline.