Advertisements for Myself Themes

Themes

At bottom, Mailer wants to abolish moral categories not because he is against morality but because he rejects categorical thinking of the type exemplified by the social worker Louise Rossman in "The Man Who Studied Yoga," one of the best short stories in Advertisements for Myself. Louise "is a touch grim and definite in her opinions." People like Louise devour and deaden the world by categorizing it, by listing its contents and reducing it to what can be catalogued. Mailer as a novelist and social thinker, on the other hand, wants to create his own fluid context and believes there are individuals in society, white and black alike, who are attempting (not always consciously or consistently) to subvert the status quo. Occasionally he quotes these anti-authoritarians, since it is in their style, their feeling for nuance, that they are liberated from stultifying societal norms. "That cat will never come off his groove, dad," is as close as Mailer can come to the "Hip substitute for stubborn." Stubborn, however, implies fixity, and there is nothing static or staid about the Hipster or about his world view, which implies (Mailer believes) a dynamism that the categorical Squares cannot compete with. "Even a creep does move — if at a pace exasperatingly more slow than the pace of the cool cats," he concludes.

(The entire section is 219 words.)