Lipton’s Journal/January 24, 1955/235
Romance and realism. Naked seems to be a realistic journalistic novel. But I was actually taking on the first crude statement of what will probably be the intellectual theme of my life. Those who are Naked (homeostatic) and those who are Dead (sociostatic). For underneath, as Laughton has been saying over and over, the men in Naked are Heroes, and Naked is the story of a group of men who each individually makes a terrible journey, a long journey. All of Naked is a Journey, structurally, thematically, symbolically. It was prophetic for myself—up to a point. The men (me) that is (Me—N) orman) (Norman—No man but for his R)—his red ruddy root.)
———Anyway, Me, the Men, are mired in the jungle, the world, the contradiction, the depression—and then they are sent out to explore, to adventure—they end up climbing the mountain of Philosophy because their leader Croft (What is in his name?) (Coughed, roft—raft, rift, reft, ruft—coughed with rage—and indeed these days my cough is getting milder—Crift, Craft, (Kraft), Crowft, Cryft, Cruft, Crot (Crotch?) and Crof—I can’t find anything which seems really revealing.
———Anyway, because their leader Croft who is obviously the saint-psychopath in me, just as Cummings is the Affected sociostatic version of Croft and me,——anyway, Croft leads them up the mountain toward God. (Treating them incidentally like dogs, just as I in a part of myself used to treat the rest of me as if I were a dog.) But I couldn’t resolve it at the point where I was then. The neurotic Jewish boy had to condemn and put in a degraded form the highest expression of himself—Croft, McLeod, Marion—and so I ducked out the back door, and left the mountain to God, and let the hornet’s nest (What a symbol! I sure kicked it open with The Deer Park) chase the men down the mountain. Even Croft. But at least he knew that the mountain was Everything. The jungle is depression, the mountain is terror and exaltation.
- Mailer met Charles Laughton (1899-1962) in 1954, and over the next two years the great English actor and director tried and failed to write a screenplay based on Naked. Laughton directed the Broadway production of G. B. Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell in 1951 and played the role of the Devil, with Agnes Moorhead as Doña Ana, Charles Boyer as Don Juan and Cedric Hardwicke as the Commander, a production Mailer admired.
- General Edward Cummings is the semi-fascistic commanding general of U.S. forces on the fictional island of Anopopei in Naked.
- Mailer’s anti-hero for a post-Hiroshima world in The Deer Park, Faye (son of Dorothea O’Faye, a former singer who presides over a drunken salon in Desert D’Or, Mailer’s name for Palm Springs, California), is the archetypal hipster. A bisexual pimp and drug dealer, he is the novel’s dark conscience, the polar opposite of Charles Eitel. Mailer planned to use Faye as a centripetal character in the seven novels that he planned and failed to write as sequels to The Deer Park.