Lipton’s Journal/February 7, 1955/467
There is so much to be said about the type. The type conceals always a great human truth. The French with their enormous rationality even call a guy a “type.” The French know Goddamn well that every human alive is different, so they invent—for they are the great explorers of Category (which is society’s way of admitting variety)—they invent a different type for every person alive.
Thus society protects itself. From childhood on, as soon as we can talk we are given types of humanity with labels attached, good guys, bad guys, we are told to go toward some, to go away from others or take from others. Thus give-and-take by the aid of Types is turned into a Social advantage for society, and indeed advantage for oneself if one wants to get ahead. A fine sense of types means that one can understand action rather than the inside of the person at a glance. So the good businessman always sees people as types: the dirty artist-type, the neat clerk but you better not trust him too far, the truck driver who’ll give you good work but presents the danger of punching you in the nose. And so forth.
What is important is that we can only understand people rationally by exploring through words the meaning of each pure type. To understand people intuitively is something else, but intuitive understanding is always inarticulate because it is too vast, we mumble “Go on,” or Stop, or Gee, or Gosh, or Wow, or Golly. (Every one of these words must be explored). The type is a machine, the type is predictable, hence printer’s type. (The clue to the meaning of words is to explore relentlessly those words which sound alike like deer and dear, and so forth. Primitively, we mean them to say the same thing.) And Chinese has one word mean a dozen different things which is why it’s so hard for the Westerner. What American can stand multiplicity of languages.
The type is the world’s understanding of humanity. Pass over the type, pass to the other side, the side which is feeling rather than action, and one has real understanding of others, but it is inarticulate. So to save my articulateness I explore types, I see people as types. Doing that enables me to continue to act. And as my understanding of types becomes more intense—such understanding is the defensiveof my advancing —so the advice I give these days is far better, because I’m no longer worried about my own nastiness, pettiness, etc. I feel that I am good and so I can see the good in others.