Lipton’s Journal/January 24, 1955/242
Bebop. P and B are sibling consonants, almost identical twins. Like T and D. So Bebop is be pop or pee pop—Go ahead father, piss. The trickling quality of the orgasm is implicit in the word, but so, too, is the subtlety, the lingering, the capacity to say many things at once. Man is at the point where the highest developed humans are starting to communicate on more than one level at the same time, and the words on bebop records can mean two or three things at the same time. It is absolutely conceivable that humans will speak in the style of Finnegan’s Wake in centuries or millennia or possibly much sooner.
- A jazz style of the 1940s and 1950s, and also the nonsense, or scat language of hipsters and musicians. Mailer is referring to the latter definition here.
- Mailer is correct in linking P with B, and T with D in reference to where they are articulated, by the lips, teeth, tongue, voice box, etc. The first pair are bilabial (formed by the lips), and latter interdental (formed by the tip of the tongue and the teeth).
- Finnegans Wake is the experimental serio-comic novel written by James Joyce (1882-1941) over two decades and published in 1939. Written in what Joyce conceived to be the language of the unconscious or the dream, it recounts the life of a Dublin family named Earwicker. Mailer regularly, incorrectly, inserted an apostrophe in the title, an indication of his unfamiliarity with Joyce’s work at the time.