Lipton’s Journal/January 25, 1955/270

From Project Mailer

Radicals. Particularly socialists. It is no accident so many socialists come from the middle class in this country. They are almost all sociostatic in character. They hate our society, and the Soviet even more, it like me, they are anti-Stalinist leftists, but what leaves them so unappetizing and so unsatisfying even to themselves, as I was always so dissatisfied with the yawning holes in my intellectual structures, is that they wish to replace society by another society. Their imaginations, their creativity, their H is entirely devoted to the service of Sociostasis, and so their thoughts, programs, predictions, and analyses invariably have a square blunt building-brick quality.

Even Malaquais[1] who is the best Socialist thinker I have ever come across, thinks in finite blocks. His thought of course has the nobility of a cathedral, but he’s filled every square inch of the cathedral with a tile, and so his new thought can consist merely of improving the total design. He can replace one tile by another. But he will never build a cathedral which dissolves into light. For all the beauty of his conceptions, a dank oppressive gloom breathes out of the doors and no one wants to enter poor Malaquais’ cathedral. He is left the gloomy caretaker of it. One reason he cannot chase me away entirely is that I’m the village boy who wandered in on evening and stayed admire the cathedral for many years, asking the caretaker every day, “Don Malaquais, tell me about the saints, and why this stone is this color?” I was a naughty boy and I was forever quitting his lessons to throw stones at the bats, but what he cannot bear, dear Malaquais, it the silence now that I am gone. Timidly, terrified, like a shy old miser, he is making the endless preparations necessary to go out and buy a new hat. He has no real hope he’ll be detained in the village and find a place to build a new cathedral, he knows he’ll go back to the old one and watch the bats multiply, but it is so gloomy in there. Even Fra Jean has to get a bit of air.



note

  1. A Polish Jew (real name Vladimir Malacki) whose parents perished in the Holocaust, Jean Malaquais (1909-98) was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Mailer has often said that Malaquais influenced him intellectually more than anyone else. They met in Paris in 1947 and became close friends a year later when Malaquais was translating The Naked and the Dead into French. Malaquais and his first wife Galy lived with the Mailers when they spent a year in Hollywood, 1949-50. During their time together, Malaquais, who wrote several novels, informally tutored Mailer on leftist thought and the history of the Russian Revolution. See Mailer’s “My Friend, Jean Malaquais,” an introduction to Malaquais’s 1954 novel, The Joker, rpt., Pieces and Pontifications.