Lipton’s Journal/February 7, 1955/458

From Project Mailer

The crook in Bob Lindner.[1] Until one understands this, one cannot understand Bob. The crook in him is what enables him to go forward. Like the journalist he seeks for knowledge in order to tell a lie. But the more truth he discovers the more creative become his lies, because deep within, no doubt because of his parents most directly, he learned early that to be truthful is to be destroyed. So, only by giving his honesty back to the world as dishonesty, can he find peace and safety and yet go on. That is why he always gets more pleasure from turning a dishonest buck than an honest one—why his books give him more pleasure than his patients, and why—what shocked me so deeply is now understandable—he was so drawn to the idea of opening the clinic where they would do lobotomies. It would be such a dishonest buck. He lusted after it like a hot bitch. But yet he could not quite do it. It was dishonesty at too low a level.

So he had to tell me about it, because he knew I could destroy it. I could plumb it, I could say, “What the fuck do you want to give money to your kids for,” and in saying it, Bob felt that I was right, that wasn’t motive. So I took away his social justification, and he was left with the knowledge that to fuck this particular bitch was too crude a lie. I goose Bob to making his lies more and more finely drawn, until finally—in what horror—and torment he is going to tell the truth, just as Bob has given to me his deep sense of the validity of everything, because only the fine crook, the crook cubed can understand the importance of everything in the social world. “There’s an angle everywhere,” says the master con man.

A small example of this is his fury at the guy who made him give back the $250. Bob had been taken by a superior crook—the fact of the matter is that deeply Bob knew he’d been a crook to take the $250 in the first place. And Freddy Weisgal[2] whose attraction is that he is an amiable healthy vigorous crook (who is only half-ashamed of his crookedness—most good lawyers indeed) was the mid-wife who got out the $250 from the psychopath’s father—undoubtedly a miser. AP: The deep psychic folk tale of the crook who takes the miser. Bob was enraged. Like all crooks, he wants to give, he cannot bear to be taken from—not with money which is his Open Sesame to society.


  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. A prominent civil rights lawyer, Weisgal (1920-1971) was at one time an official in Israel’s Ministry of Justice. The details of his disagreement with Lindner are unknown.