Lipton’s Journal/January 24, 1955/248

From Project Mailer

Which leads me to the one and the two. Society is always saying X is One. Man always knows X is Two. For example, Society says crime is bad. Religion is good. Man knows that crime is bad but beneath the crime is goodness; religion is good but beneath it is death and evil.

One is a unity. It is static. Two is infinity. That is to say in the act “ideationally” of moving from one to two we pass through an infinity of movements from the one to the two. 1.0000000001, 1.0000000002 and so forth.

Stasis is one. Movement is infinite. That is why the novelist is so important. For centuries now he has been one of the few who keep saying in the good man there is bad, in the bad man there is good[1]—he keeps us alive to the scope of infinity which does not diminish man but ennobles him.

Society always wants one. That is why totalitarianism is its final expression, and its final victory it if could ever achieve it, but thank God I don’t see how it can.


  1. This is “the minority within,” as critic Richard Poirier referred to these opposed dualities; see “The Minority Within” in Poirier’s 1972 monograph, Norman Mailer. Many if not most of Mailer’s characters were created in loyalty to this division.