Norman Mailer in the ’50s
“Mailer as the White Negro” // v1 // Midjourney 2022

Norman Mailer in the ’50s

This image takes for its inspiration several related items: the American writer and public intellectual Norman Mailer, his mid-50s marijuana journal, and his seminal 1957 essay The White Negro. Both texts begin to develop Mailer’s mature ideas and writing, and The White Negro theorizes the Hipster—an American existentialist who, inspired by the inner-city African-Americans, has cast off his neuroses and learned to live more authentically. Check it out:

The White Negro - Project Mailer

This image places Mailer himself in that role—something that I think he aspired to as a novelist, but it ended up being more apropos as an approach to developing protagonists—especially in his 1960s work. The image above is my favorite of this series, but two more versions are also pretty good.

The verisimilitude in these images is excellent, but not too much. I started with a photo of Mailer with a goatee and just imagined him in Harlem looking for trouble or inspiration or both.