Lipton’s Journal/February 7, 1955/471

From Project Mailer

Anyway, the Germans. They are philosophers, rationalists, societists—even as monsters they insisted upon being all of the above three; even as mystics they wrote as crabbed rationalists—Kant.[1] They are pompous because they feel the great seriousness of life, of what they say. A pompous style is the expression of feelings of deep seriousness with little sense or insight into what one really wishes to say. But great works have to be pompous—they should be. They are like symphonies, they are regal, they are the highest social elevations of the soaring Type. So the Germans always use capitals for their nouns. Indeed, they should. Capitals are the expression that one wished to elevate a noun (which is always implicitly a type) into a Type. This note answers my dilemma about the concentration camp novel.[2] I should place it in the past after the last war and have it a German camp rather than in the future in a Soviet camp. But, still, I wonder.



notes

  1. One of the major philosophers of the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), made contributions to almost every branch of philosophical thought, including aesthetics. He opposed the idea, held by rationalist philosophers, that the infant’s mind is a blank slate.
  2. Titled “The City of God,” and begun in the early 1950s, it was never completed; only a fragment exists in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin, home of the Mailer Archive. Initially, Mailer’s setting was a Soviet concentration camp; he later changed it to a German camp. He finally published the novel, his last, The Castle in the Forest, in 2007.