Lipton’s Journal/January 31, 1955/339

From Project Mailer

Exceptional people. Exceptional people are people who go across a spectrum. The whore who becomes a lady (Eva Peron);[1] the dishonest man who becomes honest—Bob Lindner;[2] the artist who becomes a bourgeois—my father; the adventurer who becomes a rationalist, legalist—Cy Rembar;[3] the lady who becomes a whore—any society nymphomaniac; myself, the bourgeois who goes toward the saint-psychopath; and so forth and so forth.

Truly exceptional people, people who go down in history, are people who complete more than half of the voyage. Most people turn back. The mass of people hardly ever started. But it is natural to go across one’s social nature, it is healthy, it is an expression of the desire to complete one’s soul. For it is probably true that the most essential parts of oneself are the most buried.

In infancy and childhood, the child begins to realize that whatever it offers to the world is taken away from it, made something which is no longer its own. So what it really wished to keep, it buries. Later in life the health of the body itself demands that what is buried be expressed, and exceptional people who are always people who are intensely alive (even though like Malaquais[4] the conflicts may be so tremendous that they live in intense depression and in a tangential life expression—Malaquais is the poor Jew who wished to become a king—and settled for the tangential expression of being the most aristocratic of the radicals), exceptional people being extremely alive have to move on or they will die.

So they begin, inevitably, step by step—in society’s view they are people who start to deteriorate or take on airs. Sooner or later, for most of them, comes the crisis. The breakdown, the dead-end, the rout or the trench-warfare of H vs. S, and so they flee to the analyst. The analyst in his social function with rare exceptions is the man who turns people back to their starting point. So, in a case like my father’s, a good result would have been achieved perhaps—the small artist in him would have emerged in small ways. I would probably have been turned back if I had had a bad but powerful analyst, to the bourgeois in me.

The reason a successful analysis gives generally more comfort and less creativity is that the H is utilized to justify the S. One accepts society, not oneself—the advertisements of the analysts to the contrary—and so one emerges “contented” but always the prey of “stabbing” regrets. Did one lose something is the recurring obsession of the successful analysands. But for the analyst to do the opposite—to make the S accommodate itself to the H, rather than vice-versa, is to set the patient off in his own small way toward becoming a genius. Which means beauty and danger, exaltation and terror. How many people can bear that?

Far better, reasons the analyst in his social cowardice, to take the H uncovered and turn it upon oneself. Implicit in conventional analysis is the idea that the unconscious is dirty, petty, childish, ugly, aggressive, disturbing—the social brute animal which must be cleansed . . . and tamed. So each H which reveals itself is seen through the eyes of S (as people we sense everything both in S-ways and H-ways, usually simultaneously, but with one or the other in predominance) and seen through the eyes of S by both analyst and patient.

Therefore, a more elaborate social defense, a more flexible S, is devised “by ear” between patient and analyst to “handle” this “drive.” Successful analyses, that is conventional successful analyses, do nothing for the H except confuse it, but they do give a wonderfully flexible and sensitive set of S-defenses. Which is why successful analysands always have that “pious” quality. They can name anything you do. They are to the soul, as the pious man is to real religion—a caricature of it, a diminisher, a reducer.

Did you do something for a great, grand, and novel reason—they ascribe it to your desire to piss on people. Which is why I had to fight Elliot Kammerman.[5] And that is why totally successful analysands (a theoretical concept) can never love people, they can only love society. So their successful marriages are always social marriages—they marry the “ideal” partner which means the socially ideal partner. I am willing to bet that geniuses always have wacky marriages—marriages which seem socially incredible on the surface.

The successful analysand is the middle-class caricature in miniature of the perfect Stalinist citizen. And analysis is to blame. It entered the soul, but given its birth and social needs, it quickly became “socialized”, and so it never saw the real good noble if warped qualities of the H—it could only condemn them. I am willing to bet that nearly all analysts are people who sensed more or less dimly that if they did not become analysts they would become rebels, terrifying rebels. Analysis is the best personality defense of them all for it is the graveyard of rebellion unless one is a genius.


  1. The second wife of Argentinian President Juan Perón, Maria Eva Duarte Perón (1919-1952) became a cult figure in the Argentinian mind after her death.
  2. 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.
  3. Mailer’s first cousin, Charles Rembar (1915-2000), was a prominent First Amendment lawyer, who successfully defended the publication of banned books such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer. He was Mailer’s lawyer for over three decades.
  4. 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.
  5. Unknown.