Lipton’s Journal/January 26, 1955/282

From Project Mailer

Sociostasis and sociostasis. Societies leave behind them a homeostatic record (H vs. S) which we call history. Each death of an H vs. S leaves us a truth. Human life is not a circle but a spiral. When the spiral returns to the point where it was an age, a century, an eon ago, what was once an H may now be an S. Reason which is part of man’s soul was once an H-instrument which put S in retreat. (Arbitrarily, the French Revolution.) But S is part of life too: it is Other-Life, and so in defeating an H it absorbs it. Reason has now become Rationalization (in the large sense of the word). It is one of the bulwarks of society.

So the H turns to the illogical, the intuitive, the irrational. One symptom of this is what everybody is calling the plague of irrationality. Small communities refuse the fluoridation of water, although rationally fluoridation prevents tooth decay and does no known harm. McCarthys spring up and have to be defeated at what cost to the rational nervous system of the State it is difficult to contemplate. Demagogues are on the march, painting deserts the representational—to wit, the rational. Poetry ceases to communicate to large audiences. Billy Grahams[1] electrify the staid English; Aldous Huxley[2] the last in line of a great intellectual family takes a drug and writes a book about it.

The demagogue is everywhere. Millions give themselves to the gibberish of television. Be-bop floods America after the war, and it is the artistic expression of double-talk (ultimately the expression of many things at once). Monsters in uniform murder in the name of the state until finally the state itself is caught in contradiction. It is killing its own. It is killing the very people it needs for production which is its health. What then am I saying?

The state has appropriated reason. With reason it is attempting to destroy life. So life responds by bewildering the state with monsters and mystics. At this moment in history, the State can handle anything rational, can adapt itself to anything rational, borrow from it, use it. The State has used Marxism itself in order to make super-states. So, life fights back by having people become monsters and mystics, the two things the State just cannot possibly handle. The hipster who combines both monster and mystic within himself is on Cloud Seven, and the psychoanalyst who is his social counterpart is merely in the chair.

In a curious cockeyed way, the concentration camps of the world were not an unalloyed monstrosity. They could have been worse, the world could have been destroyed. It is possible that in the long view of the historian centuries from now, the concentration camps will be seen as the warning which succeeded—the statement of life which warned people that the ultimate nature of the totally rational society is the monster. That if society is allowed total reason, it will destroy Life.

Once, in the Middle Ages mysticism and monsters were the province of society and reason was the expression of life. But we are half around the spiral, and it is possible that at this moment in history the irrational expressions of man are more healthy than the rational. For state-planners, and civic planners and community planners are always rattled, bewildered, rendered anxious by the totally irrational. McCarthy fucked up the confidence of the American State more completely than a million Communist Party members could have. Perhaps we fail to see the signs. Perhaps the crazy reactionaries and the tabloid papers and the comic books (I see what Bob[3] means) and television and advertising even in certain ways, all the monstrosities are eating at the calm of the experts, fuddling the bureaucrats, expressing against Other-Life, the warped twisted but nonetheless assertive H permitted man today. And on a higher level, a century or three or five from now, the spiral may be completed (it will of course go on) and Reason, Higher Reason will return to the H and monsters and mysticism to the S.


  1. One of the most charismatic Christian (Protestant) evangelists of the past century, Graham (b. 1918) appeared on television and held religious rallies for 70 years, including some in England.
  2. A member of a talented and accomplished British family, Huxley (1894-1963), was a novelist and philosopher with an interest in the occult and spiritualism. His most famous book is Brave New World (1932), a dystopian satire. He died of cancer shortly after taking a dose of LSD on the day President Kennedy was assassinated, November 22, 1963.
  3. A prominent Baltimore psychoanalyst and writer, Robert Lindner (1914 – 1956) became acquainted with Mailer after reading Lindner’s 1952 sharp critique of current psychoanalytic practice, Prescription for Rebellion (1952), published by Mailer’s publisher, Rinehart. The letter, which contained both praise and criticism for Lindner’s ideas, led to a close friendship over the next four years, including many visits and the sharing of work, including Lipton’s. See extended note on entry 56.