[Norman Mailer] did keep certain early experiences secret, but not many. He said he used them as “crystals,” and shined a light through them to illume later experiences. Most of these were from his childhood and adolescence. He called experience “the church of one’s acquired knowledge.” For him, the best experiences were unforeseen, experiences that hit you like a brick tossed over a fence.
The earliest reference I found to Mailer saying “the church of one’s acquired experience” comes from someone quoting him in The New Statesman in 1983.