Lipton’s Journal/February 7, 1955/460

From Project Mailer

But why can I understand the crook in Bob?[1] It is because at a deeper level of the unconscious I’m a bigger crook than he is. Why else did I turn down the Pepsi-Cola show which so intrigued Bob. It’s because the crook in me is at a lower level of the unconscious, more rarified, more honest on the surface. It shows in my reading and my ideas. I’m a synthesizer, just as a crook is. I cannot make the original discovery, but I can add the fabulous jewel to it at my best. So I dip into other books and other men’s styles, take the ideas I wish, throw away the others, understand one facet of a person to the exclusion of the rest because what I want is the jewel in the suitcase—fuck the rest, fuck the furs and the bonds. I’ll rip everything apart to come up with what I feel is the nugget. The Deer Park is an enormous lie. It was my crook’s way of finding the truth. And so in my own way I came up with the jewel.

Analyzers are honest but cannot give. Synthesizers are crooks (hence their scholarly footnotes—at least in the more socialized ones) and so they can only take partially, and that from wealth acquired by someone else. So, with my ideas. I love to give them, I love to steal complacency from my friends, torture them into finer states of being, make them know because I am alive what they have messed, what they have renunciated, but as Bob said I cannot accept, neither their love nor their approval of my ideas. Let that happen and I am being taken—I have met a bigger crook.

So, I always love Adele[2] when she is in a rage at me because then I can steal a big thing from her, I can steal her rage—I was never so happy as when she poured the liquor on my head. But when she loves me absolutely then I become uneasy. No wonder. My creation is being improved. So she never gives me the absolute total acceptance. When my ideas really begin to fly and I tell them to her, she glows for a while, but then she deserts me, she goes to sleep, because deep in her she knows with her woman’s wisdom that to give her love absolutely to me at a given moment is to make me withdraw—how afraid I am that she is a bigger crook than me. No wonder I get annoyed when she loses money or buys something that is over-priced. She’s taken me, she’s taken my crook’s money which I stole Naked-wise from the very heart of society.

And that is why bad receptions for my books pain me so much. It means I can’t steal any more, and so I have to go on, and try to be dishonest at an even higher level.

All of this is an explanation of why artists are so fascinated by crooks. And that is why as I get older and come to discover the value of the crook in me, I wish to make more money. It is making money which gives me pleasure. I stole it from the very heart of that world which can’t keep up with me—and indeed what society can keep up with a first-rate crook. So, in that sense, John Huston[3] is a crook which is why we were always so polite and far away from one another although we understood the mutual attraction. Neither one of us could decide who was the bigger crook and we were thus scared stiff. And suspicious.


  1. A prominent Baltimore psychoanalyst and writer, Robert Lindner (1914-56) became acquainted with Mailer after reading Lindner’s 1952 sharp critique of current psychoanalytic practice, Prescription for Rebellion (1952), published by NM’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. 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.
  3. One of the great figures of Hollywood’s golden era, John Huston (1906-1987), directed nearly forty films, and wrote the screenplays for most of them. His first film, The Maltese Falcon (1941), is generally considered to be one of the first and finest examples of American film noir. Mailer met him in Hollywood in 1949.