Lipton’s Journal/January 24, 1955/223

From Project Mailer

Homeostasis and sociostasis.[1] I am going to postulate that here is not only homeostasis (which is the most healthy act possible at any moment for the soul), but there is sociostasis which is the health of society so that like people, but acting in the reverse direction, there is a sociostatic element in man placed there by society which resists and wars and retreats against the inroads of homeostasis which is the personal healthy rebellious and soulful expression of man.

In the course of a human’s life the child is born all homeostatic (unless the mother has communicated sociostatic components to the embryo) but generally the years of childhood are years in which the homeostatic principle or life-force is blocked, contained, damned, and even destroyed by the creation of sociostatic elements—the child is partially turned into someone who will serve the purposes of society. The essential animal-soul life is contained, forced underground, denied. But as people get older, there is this great tendency for the homeostatic principle to assert itself—middle-aged people kicking over the traces.

Depression is the symptom of trench warfare between homeostasis and sociostasis. War in that sense is not the health of the state (Randolph Bourne)[2] but rather is the desperate expression of sociostasis. Society chooses a terrible alternative, but it is the best alternative open to it, given the worse alternative of society disappearing. (From its point of view of course, not mine.)


  1. Mailer presents this struggle as a crucial dialectic: the thesis is sociostatis, or the healthy balance of society, and the antithesis is homeostasis, or the individual essence that often stands opposed to social order and conformity. Mailer does not see sociostasis (literally “like standing still”) as healthy, diverging from the original meaning, and privileges homeostasis as a more pure, natural, or Ur-state. In entry 245, Mailer replaces homeostatis with homeodynamism, suggesting individual expression and growth through movement or an active power that resists external oppressive forces.
  2. A progressive thinker, Bourne (1886-1918) wrote an anti-war essay in 1918, “War is the Health of the State.”