Lipton’s Journal/February 21, 1955/647

From Project Mailer

All day I have been holding back a part of this journal. It comes down to the feeling that Bob Lindner[1] gave me a pain in the ass last weekend. He acted like a shy sexy teasing society bitch who gave you the sexual come-on when you’d given up, and threw her manner at you when you advanced. Bob, whose virtue is that he has not frozen himself into authority, is not a Burglar,[2] suddenly put on the psychoanalytical mantle, and all weekend, except for rare moments, had a healthier-than-thou attitude.

What gave me the pain in the ass was that I was not interested in who was healthier. We’re both healthy, we’re both sick, each in our own ways. But Bob who knows so Goddamn well that his lacks, his shlumperness, his sly (but heavy) manipulations, his hang-dogness, his fear of authority, his half-works, his games with Johnnie,[3] his guilt about it, his guilt about every fucking thing was hanging on to all those things. I will not bother now to recite his virtues. I’ve been doing that long enough in this journal. What infuriated me was that he fought me all weekend when he knows so very well, or should by now that I don’t seek to make people my creatures, that the idea of total victory is so unpleasant to me that I always give away victories as I get them, and that a man who confesses a fault to me opens in me the desire to confess ten of my own faults.

No doubt he’ll call all this paranoid projection. But he can’t have his cake and eat it. He cannot see me as enormously intuitive and blindly paranoid—each when he chooses to call it so. Obviously there will be times when he thinks I’m right when I’ll be wrong, and vice versa. If I didn’t like him so much, if I didn’t feel so psychically close, as if we were the two talented Jewish sons of the same family, the older brother I never had, I really would be tempted to slug that sly stealing cocksucker. One day he’ll realize what he really has on the ball, and then he’ll surprise everybody, including me.

The greatest arrogance is to assume that one knows the potentialities of one’s dear friends and one’s mates. If one knew them then they hardly would be big potentialities. But I do hope that the next weekend we spend together isn’t pissed away by Bob exhausting himself before it begins. And the bloody arrogance of the Lindner. “Don’t write novels, write expository works.” “Adele, let me tell you my ideas about painting.” When it comes to painting he can’t tell an ass-hole from an appetite.

I much prefer Johnnie’s aggression. She comes out with it, she slams it down, she invites you to sock her back. She says, “I think smoking marijuana is going into a dirty urinal.” So you can talk about it. You can fight about it. But the Lindner tries to play chess. He talks about marijuana as if it were a charity case and he’s the kind matron who accepts all, even dirty children—one can always wash their ears. When the kid says, “Get your fucking finger out of my ear,” Mother Superior Bob shrugs sadly and says, “The poor neurotic child, I was trying to help it.” In a way I have more respect for Johnnie than for Bob. She doesn’t pretend to be helping you when she feels like whamming you with a plate. Her aggression is her health. One of these days I hope the Lindner realizes that his aggression-concealments make him act like Uriah Heep.


  1. A prominent Baltimore psychoanalyst and writer, Robert Lindner (1914 – 1956) became acquainted with Mailer after reading Lindner’s 1952 sharp critique of current psychoanalytic practice, Prescription for Rebellion (1952), published by Mailer’s publisher, Rinehart. The letter, which contained both praise and criticism for Lindner’s ideas, led to a close friendship over the next four years, including many visits and the sharing of work, including Lipton’s. See extended note on entry 56.
  2. An Austrian psychoanalyst and early follower of Freud, Edmund Bergler (1899-1962) focused on masochism and homosexuality in his many books and articles. He believed homosexuality was a neurosis that could be cured, and saw homosexuals as unscrupulous psychic masochists. Bergler is Mailer’s whipping boy in Lipton’s.
  3. Johnnie Lindner, Robert Lidner’s wife, who Mailer described as "a sort of pepper pot blonde, pepper pot fire . . . full of strong feelings, full of love, full of lust, full of fire, full of the inability to pardon.”