Mailer conspicuously includes a bibliography in The Castle in the Forest that gestures at the idea of responsibility to truth, but since so many books in the bibliography differ on crucial issues, what does it mean?
Mailer has constantly toyed with the question of subjectivity, thus essential fictionality, of truth since Armies of the Night ("history as a novel, the novel as history"). I've come to think of The Executioner's Song as probably his best nonfiction, and yet, I have a strong feeling that in one way or another he put his own thoughts in Gary Gilmore and Nicole Baker's mouths. That it was a novel about Mailer talking to two badlands versions of himself—two trailer trash existential Manichaean theologians. You see a lot of them out West ... Or maybe they'd just read a lot of early Mailer.
So, if Mailer can read himself into Gary and Nicole, one wonders if he'll do the same with Hitler and Geli. Especially given his own particular sexual predisposition. I don't mean his own sexual preferences or positions, I mean his theory of sex, of the orgasm, his early attachment to the sexual/characterological theories of Freudian disciple and psychoanalytic black sheep Wilhelm Reich.
Few remember Reich now, but in a way he's a progenitor of the New Age Mind/Body/Energy ideology, especially through his American disciple Alexander Lowen of "bioenergetic" semifame. Reich believed that one's character is determined (or determines—it gets a little fuzzy on this chicken/egg question) by the quality of one's orgasm. If one has the right kind of orgasm, the "unarmored" liberating orgasm which allows the "orgone energy" of the universe (a force most physicists have not reported encountering) to flow through one's body and mind, then one will have a good, liberated character and be less likely to commit pathological, genocidal acts. If one has the "wrong" kind of orgasm, one becomes a fascist or worse.
These theories Reich adumbrated in prewar books like The Mass Psychology of Fascism. In his postwar American expatriate period, Reich became more and more of an orgasm extremist and scold, publishing subsequent treatises featuring detailed instruction manuals—complete with diagrams of sexual positions, with directional arrows for every limb. Reich also devised a mysterious contraption called the "orgone energy accumulator" or "orgone box," which one was supposed to sit in and, well, accumulate orgone energy. Reichian theory put a "scientific" gloss on the depiction of good and bad sexuality in certain postwar fiction. (Saul Bellow, Irving Howe, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, as well as Mailer, were said to have put in time in orgone boxes.) It seemed daring at the time, although Reich ended up regarded as a crank, did jail time for allegedly making cancer-cure claims for his orgone box, and eventually turned into a full-fledged UFO nut.
But aside from Reich, Mailer would have a long tradition of Hitler apocrypha to draw on in explaining the Führer through sex, explaining him, for instance, through the kind of sexual relationship he was supposed to have had according to what I call the "Lustmord narrative" of the Hitler-Geli Raubal ménage.
The Lustmord narrative fits the agenda of two strangely different parties of Hitler explainers. First, certain embittered former Hitler confidantes. Two of the latter, "Putzi" Hansfstangl and Otto Strasser, spread a particularly lurid, excretory version of what went on between Hitler and Geli Raubal. (It starts with "undinism" and doesn't end there, if you know what I mean. If you don't, you're better off in your state of innocence.) In addition to ex-Nazis, the other parties that favor the Lustmord narrative are (mainly) Jewish psychoanalysts who sought to turn the ex-Nazi rumors into a psychosexual analysis of Hitler's evil.
Let me summarize the lurid, unreliable narrative this way: Young, fresh-faced 23-year-old Geli comes to Hitler's Bavarian mountain retreat in the Obersalzberg to serve as her mother's (Hitler's half-sister Bridget's) helper in housekeeping duties for the paroled Nazi party Führer about the time he re-enters politics with a big Nazi-party parliamentary election surge in 1928. *
Geli is infatuated by the aura of celebrity and political significance that surrounded Uncle Alf. Uncle Alf is entranced by the beautiful young girl. Hitler is reported to have squired her around the countryside, almost as if she were an official consort; he called her the perfect image of an Aryan maiden; on the other hand, one of her rivals called her "an empty-headed little slut"…
The next step was Geli's move into Hitler's three-story Munich mansion as a vaguely defined "housekeeper" separate from the mother, who remained behind in the Obersalzberg.