Lipton’s Journal/January 31, 1955/342

From Project Mailer

Stimulants. My ideas which started slow this morning are now again coming so fast they are almost out of hand. The surface reason was Seconal[1] and black coffee. I had Lipton’s last night, quite a bit, and then Seconal to bring me down, and then black coffee to bring me up. But I didn’t have enough, I still felt sluggish, so two and a half hours ago I went out to have more, and since then I’ve been flying.

But what are stimulants? Given the incredible complexity of modern life, the deeper and deeper awareness of the H, the more and more elaborate construction of the S, trench-warfare is the condition of the soul. (As a wild speculation it opens the idea for an historical inquiry or thesis to the effect that each war which expresses the total of deep collective truths of the soul is the clue to the time which is to follow. So the trench warfare of 1914-1918 is expressed today in the psychic state of the average sensitive intellectual. And the spiritual life of the future, say 1984, may not be 1984 at all, but rather the wild, anarchic, intermittent, destructive and sudden liberating movements of the second world war. But this is a wild one, for the moment anyway.)

To go on: The only way we can liberate enough H energy to do good work—for society’s weakness is that it cannot defeat H entirely for if it does, society will become totally static and then deteriorate—is to take stimulants and sedatives—one giving more life, one giving more peace, but both opening the H. Yet society cannot allow real sanction to this for too much of the soul might be uncovered. So liquor is tolerated when it must be—marijuana which I understand is less harmful than liquor and considerably cheaper is illegal, sedatives like Seconal are considered the refuge of a weak spineless over-nervous person, and even coffee is frowned on. How many times have we heard people say, “He drinks too much coffee. It’s not good for him.” The wilder drugs like cocaine, heroin, and I predict, mescaline, are hounded and persecuted.

What I have noticed in myself is that I need stimulants and Lipton’s less and less over the whole than I have before because a breakthrough has come. But I still need them a great deal. However, I have found part of the secret. It is society’s condemnation of stimulants which we carry in ourself which does at least half of their harm. Reduce the S and the body could take a lot more playing around with provided genuine enjoyments of mind and body were the result. It is the half-enjoyments which send us back again and again. We half-know there is something there which is calling to our self, we half-despise ourselves. To wit: fascination.


  1. Brand name for Secobarbital sodium, a barbiturate used as a sedative and anticonvulsant. Mailer used this drug regularly in the early and middle 1950s.