Lipton’s Journal/February 7, 1955/501

From Project Mailer

I’ve just been out for lunch, came up to work, felt not enough energy, went down for black coffee and now feel ready. Since I feel I have a great deal now to say about stimulants and depressants, I want to make one or two remarks and symbols to save time later. L-day will stand for the day or night I take Lipton’s and follow it with Seconal.[1] Lplus1 is the following day, Lplus2 the day after, and so forth. Lplus2 is today, and what I notice is that L-day or just plain L is always full of insights so round, so enormous, that when I attempt to write them down they come out as clichés or paradoxes.

L plus 1 because of the Seconal I believe has me working like a dynamo for long hours attempting to recapture the total mass of material uncovered, discovered, and . . . named. L plus 2 is the critical day. I usually take Seconal again the night of L plus 1—for two reasons:

  1. I am still overexcited by the work on the journal,
  2. I believe that Seconal seems to keep my “inspiration” from being attacked by the sup during the night.

What I’ve noticed is that on L 1 and L 2 I wake up eager to go to work and full of ideas. But Seconal overused seems to bring on depression. So, L 2 is the critical day. My critical faculties are beginning to work just enough to give shape and cogency to my arguments—so at times the best notes seem to be written on L 2. (Parenthetically, I’m going to add L symbols to the dates from now on.)

But, and it is a big but, the hangover, the repression, the rejection is in the wings, and by the night of L 2 I am usually depressed and disgusted so that L 3 and L 4 are the worst days of the week, the days in which the journal seems most idiotic to me. What happens, I think, is obvious. L releases deep parts of my unconscious and given the “cop” in me, I set out to track them down. They result in ideas. Note: the crook is the action, the cop is catching the crook makes the idea, gives word to the act. But the cop who is absent almost totally—except for his presence as a passive registering observer the night of the “crime”—is weak the next day. His essential love for the crook has him applauding in the wings. By L 2 however he has caught up, and we have the chase, with every action of the crook repeated by the cop so that the line of thought while less widely inventive is nonetheless registered in detail rather than in parable, parenthesis, or cliché. But by L 3 the poor crook has been caught again, and what a third degree he gets. All of the cop’s rage at having indulged the crook rides and smashes onto the crook’s ass (word consonants, cock and crook).

But, of course, that cannot go on indefinitely either because a cop is dependent for his existence upon the crook—the crook is the initiator of action, the cop is the responding agent—so after a while L 5 or L 6 the cop is lazy again, complacent, enjoying the fruits and “promotions” of having caught the crook again. So, wham, a little Lipton’s, and the process is repeated. But what gives me optimism is that I believe this journal goes forward, and that my ideas are better and deeper now than they were a hundred pages ago. Although of course they’re less provocative for the quick reader.


  1. Brand name for Secobarbital sodium, a barbiturate used as a sedative and anticonvulsant. Mailer used this drug regularly in the early and middle 1950s.