There’s no such thing as the present. There’s a word called Time, but nobody is able to define it. There’s a past and there’s a future, and Time runs through it like an electric current. The present is an imaginary condition, a dream state… an oxymoron.
-Henry Miller, Black Spring, chapter: Jabberwhorl Cronstadt,
“At ten man is an animal, at twenty a lunatic, at thirty a failure, at forty a fraud, and at fifty a criminal.” -A quote hung on Henry Miller’s workroom wall. Source of quote unknown.
Source: German version of Playboy Press 1972 “My Life And Times” Henry Miller.
“In the beginning was the word, but for the Word to come forth there had first to be a separation of some kind. To detach itself from the bosom of creation there had to be a need, a human need. The word is always the reminder of a more perfect state, of a union or unity which is ineffable and indescribable. Creation is always difficult because it is an attempt to recover what is lost. To regain we must first feel abandoned.”
-Henry Miller, Letters To Anais Nin, Feb. 21, 1939 (Her 36th Birthday?)
“The greatest men in the world have passed away unknown. The Buddhas and the Christs that we know are but second-rate heroes in comparison with the greatest men of whom the world knows nothing. Hundreds of these unknown heroes have lived in every country working silently. Silently they live and silently they pass away; and in time their thoughts find expression in Buddhas or Christs; and it is these latter that become known to us. The highest men do not seek to get any name or fame from their knowledge. They leave their ideas to the world; they put forth no claims for themselves and establish no schools or systems in their name. Their whole nature shrinks from such a thing. They are the pure Sattvikas, who can never make any stir but only melt down in love.”
-Swami Vivekananda, from the preface/citation of Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
“About a year ago, upon reading Tropic of Cancer, Ezra Pound wrote me a postcard in his usual Cabalistic style, asking me if I had ever thought about money, what makes it and how it gets that way. The truth is that until Mr. Pound put the question to me I had never really thought about the subject. Since then, however, I have thought about it night and day. The result of my meditations and lucubrations I now offer to the world in the shape of this little treatise which, if it does not settle the problem once and for all, may at least unsettle it.” -Henry Miller, Forward to Money and How It Gets That Way, Paris, November 1, 1936
“I would a thousand times rather be the most incorrigible convict than this hireling of those who are trying to maintain law and order. Law and order! Finally, when you see it staring at you through the barrel of a rifle, you know what it means. A bas puissance, justice, histoire! If society has to be protected by these inhuman monsters then to hell with society! If at the bottom of law and order there is only a man armed to the teeth, a man without a heart, without a conscience, then law and order are meaningless.” -Henry Miller, The Soul Of Anaesthesia, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
“Admitting this, I nevertheless firmly believe that no world order, no world harmony, is possible until the artist assumes leadership. I mean by this that the artist in man must come to the fore, over against the patriot, the warrior, the diplomat, the fanatical idealist, the misguided revolutionary. It is not against the gods man must rebel–the gods are with him, if he but knew it!–but against his own mediocre, vulgar, blighted spirit.” -Henry Miller, When I Reach For My Revolver
Henry Miller’s 11 commandments for writing (that Tommi doesn’t live by).
- Work on one thing at a time until finished. (Too many things in head.)
- Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’ (When working on novel thinking about a play.)
- Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. (The reckless part. Doesn’t that counter #1?)
- Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time! (And what when you work according to a wine full of belly?)
- When you can’t create you can work. (Oh, now that makes sense.)
- Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers. (Ok. A new definition of the word ‘cement’.)
- Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it. (How ’bout doing this without keeping human.)
- Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only. (Then it would be called pleasure and not writing. Embrace the pain.)
- Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude. (Ok. Makes sense.)
- Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing. (Same as #2. Come on Henry!)
- Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards. (What if you can’t paint, have no friends and there is only AppleTV and no cinema anymore? Oh Henry.)
Stand Still Like The Hummingbird by Henry Miller
We’ve all been there. (I hope.) The moment where text is before you and you’re not sure what will come of it. So you read on and before you know it, what you read starts to drift off the edge of something and it all becomes a Dali painting. Happened to me all the time in school. All that industrial learning krapp that they put before my mind. You know how they say you have to find your voice? A voice for singing or preaching or forging steel? One also has to find his voice when it comes to writing–or as in my case–worst-writing. But I want to expand on that. Not only does one have to find his voice so that birds may sing but he also must do it in order to fill the mind. What voice will fill the mind? Finding the stuff that my mind wants me to read is just like finding a voice to sew the seeds of nevermore but not quite like Elvis sang. Which means that it would take a long time before I would find the voice required to make my mind (want to) read. But when I found her she was as grand as the repetitiveness of most forms of intercourse. Ah, desire. But leaving procreation aside. Henry Miller is the man. And this particular work of his proves that. A book of essays about life and what Henry thinks. And speaking of repetitiveness. I always foundHenry’s thick novels to be somewhat repetitive. That is not a criticism, I love them for it. They are brilliant but somehow similar. And on the seventh day he made it good. Nomatter. Henry’s cynical take on money from the essay “Money and How It Gets That Way” is wonderful. It should be required reading for bankers and politicians. Now there’s the ticket. Solve the world’s problem by making them read (study) Henry Miller.
Rant (and read) on.
Black Spring by Henry Miller
“What is not in the open street is false, derived, that is to say, literature.”
-From the opening of The Fourteenth Ward.
There is no story. There is no character development. There is no mise-en-scene. This is not a novel. What we’re dealing with here, dear worst-reader, are ten speck-chapters of a brilliant, poetic, free-thinking mind. These specks have been put together in order to form, not a perfect union, but something resembling a living chronicle that transcends space and boundaries between Paris and Brooklyn. Worst-writer cannot accentuate this enough, the word novel just doesn’t work here. When I first read Black Spring I wanted to put it down because it was taking no form. But the more I read the more compelled I was to continue. Henry Miller writes his poetry in the form of chronicles. Then again, if I may go out on another pseudo-analytical whim, Black Spring might just be all that was left-over after writing Tropic of Cancer. That’s not to say that this was “edited” in some way and not included in Cancer. I’m thinking (imagining?) that Miller’s Black Spring is the stuff that he just didn’t manage to get in his fist novel because there was simply too much in his mind. Where does one put too much? May I even go so far as claim this is the residue of brilliance?
“Never more God than in a Godless crowd.” -From Megalopolitan Maniac
Sexus by Henry Miller
As far as I’m concerned the only thing a novel needs is substance. Now put that in your hat and smoke it.
The man of the hour is Henry Miller. And with him comes a dare. Ready? Ok. Try doing what I did. Read both Tropic novels back to back and then lay down on (I hope you have one of these too) your sexy psychologist’s couch and spew your new found soul all over her white blouse and black pearls. Life changing indeed. I adore Miller. But. Obviously. I don’t gallivant in the right circles. There’s no one I can have a meaningful discussion with regarding the novels I read. So I guess, in a way, that means there’s more for me to enjoy?
I love to hear those who have only heard of Miller talk about him because they only know one thing about his work. To me, Miller is the 20th century iconic American writer. His work bleeds (literary) substance. But listen to those who think they know him, they think he’s a pornographer. Because of the groundbreaking lawsuit regarding Tropic of Cancer (1964), not only was Miller’s work categorized as ”literature” but there are many who consider him one of the door openers of the sexual revolution. But I digress. It is time to blog about The Rosy Crucifixion, Part 1.
Was recently traveling through the western part of my home country. While reading Sexus in public places some people asked me about it. Immediately I wondered if it was just the title of the book that motivated them. Or could it have been the intense way I read? I read with pencil between fingers, grasping the open book tightly with all other fingers, marking the beautiful words that flow through me in the small margins of the pages, underlining, writing even more notes in a small leather bound Moleskine that accompanies every book I read, breaking the paperback, studying.
I mean, come on. I grew up in a country that, instead of learning, grasping, understanding what the sex revolution was about, all it’s done is to equate the freedom thereafter with the God-Mis-Given right to attend wet T-Shirt contests as the prequel to procreation and lock-down marriage. Hence, IMHO, women today are as far away from sexual freedom as they were pre-revolution. At the least, the sexual revolution wasn’t about ”sex” and I might dare to add, nor do I think it was about women only. How easily Das Volk is gloriously fooled. Thank goodness there is still Miller, mind you, to provide the substance for understanding. Yet, even today, if a man of 60 or so, sitting comfortably next to me (I’m 45) with an overly expensive paper-cup full of coffee, both of us enjoying the sun in Embarcadero, San Francisco, and he mentions that he remembers Miller but never actually read him, well, go figure…
T-bone: The book is great, thanks for asking. It’s almost as good as Tropic of Capricorn.
60: Oh really. I remember the lawsuit that called Miller a pornographer. Boy, those were the days. I met my second wife in the late sixties. Have you read any Dan Brown?
T-bone: As a matter of fact I have.
60: And? Did you like…(insert name of really bad but very popular novel here)?
T-bone: No. Couldn’t get through the first twenty pages. But I did read Umberto Ecco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s a much better tale regarding the antics of pseudo-historians. I prefer substance in the novels I read.
60: Oh, you’re one of them stuck-up-artsy readers, aren’t you. Bet you don’t even have a good job.
T-bone: Dude, how right you are.
Insert small-talk among strangers at each other’s throat.,
Hopefully one of the things I have unlearned since moving abroad is the assumption that a person has the right to share their life story or, even, start a conversation with you just because you have something in your hand (or anywhere else on your person) that may (or may not) interest them. The small talk drives me up the wall and, as an ex-pat, I do not miss it in the least. Of course, I am not addressing the issue of nice-ness here.
Ironically, when I was thinking about the 60 year old that felt it was his right to (just) talk to me and interrupt my reading/learning, I was reading the following passage. It blew me away.
He was so completely carried away by this idea that everybody should participate in their joy that he went on talking for twenty minutes or more, roaming from one thing to another like a man sitting at the piano and improvising. He hadn’t a doubt in the world that we were all his friends, that we would listen to him in peace until he had had his say. Nothing he said sounded ridiculous, however sentimental his words may have been. He was utterly sincere, utterly genuine, the greatest boon on earth. It wasn’t courage which had made him get up and address us, for obviously the thought of getting to his feet and delivering a long extemporaneous speech was as much of a surprise to him as it was to us. He was for the moment, and without knowing it, of course, on the way to becoming an evangelist, that curious phenomenon of American life which has never been adequately explained. The men who have been touched by a vision, by an unknown voice, by an irresistible inner prompting and there have been thousands upon thousands of them in our country what must have been the sense of isolation in which they dwelled, and for how long, to suddenly rise up, as if out of a deep trance, and create for themselves a new identity, a new image of the world, a new God, a new heaven? We are accustomed to think of ourselves as a great democratic body, linked by common ties of blood and language, united indissolubly by all the modes of communication which the ingenuity of man can possibly devise; we wear the same clothes, eat the same diet, read the same newspapers, alike in everything but name, weight and numbers; we are the most collectivized people in the world, barring certain primitive peoples whom we consider backward in their development. And yet yet despite all the outward evidences of being close-knit, interrelated, neighborly, good-humored, helpful, sympathetic, almost brotherly, we are a lonely people, a morbid, crazed herd thrashing about in zealous frenzy, trying to forget that we are not what we think we are, not really united, not really devoted to one another, not really listening, not really anything, just digits shuffled about by some unseen hand in a calculation which doesn’t concern us. Suddenly now and then someone comes awake, comes undone, as it were, from the meaningless glue in which we are stuck the rigmarole which we call the everyday life and which is not life but a trancelike suspension above the great stream of life and this person who, because he no longer subscribes to the general patterns, seems to us quite mad finds himself invested with strange and almost terrifying powers, finds that he can wean countless thousands from the fold, cut them loose from their moorings, stand them on their heads, fill them with joy, or madness, make them forsake their own kith and kin, renounce their calling, change their character, their physiognomy, their very soul. And what is the nature of this overpowering seduction, this madness, this temporary derangement, as we love to call it? What else if not the hope of finding joy and peace? Every evangelist uses a different language but they are all talking about the same thing. (To stop seeking, to stop struggling, to stop climbing on top of one another, to stop thrashing about in the pursuit of vain and vacillating goals.) In a twinkle of an eye it comes, the great spirit, which equilibrates, which brings serenity and poise, and illumines the visage with a steady, quiet flame that never dies. In their efforts to communicate the secret they become a nuisance to us, true. We shun them because we feel that they look upon us condescendingly; we can’t bear to think that we are not the equal of anyone, however superior he may seem to be. But we are not equals; we are mostly inferior, vastly inferior, inferior particularly to those who are quiet and contained, who are simple in their ways, and unshakable in their beliefs. We resent what is steady and anchored, what is impervious to our blandishments, our logic, our collectivized cud of principles, our antiquated forms of allegiance.
-The above text is from Henry Miller, Sexus, The Rosy Crucifixion, 1, about half-way through chapter 6.
- Henry Miller – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Embarcadero (San Francisco) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sometimes during this stretch of life I feel as though there is only one man I can turn to for answers. Reading his essays provides answers to questions I asked months prior. So I suppose HM and patience are my two good bed fellows(?). It is not possible for him to tell me who I am but it/he sure comes close enough. I must quote him anew. Three words struck me as relevant today.
Truth, Wisdom & Passion.
The context HM creates and uses the words is only slightly different and this slightness has allowed moi to make a connection or find an answer to a question I recall asking. The question? “What is wrong with the way contemporary conservatives talk?” And. “Why is it that America (2005) is so rude and arrogant?” America has lost all touch with truth, wisdom and passion. The conservatives of today cannot comprehend this. The American has become ugly but I see no nation-state alternative to its ugliness. So is it ALL ugly or uglier? Does this mean that American ugliness I grew up with and so many generations left behind with their deaths could potentially become the opposite of ugly? The antithesis? I grew up HM’s generation–well, the generation that could have benefitted from him. But that is neither here nor there. HM say? According to his writings he would still laugh and shake his head. It really is unbelievable what man is unable to do. But he is perfecting the ability, perhaps incarnating it and causing the inorganic to become organic, making something intuitive. Is not our great land making untruth truth?
Truth, Wisdom & Passion.
Where is it? Truth is not enough. That’s like saying the truth about an iceberg is in what you see above the water. Or? Oh, Tbone, find a more compelling
I never see two equally beautiful women together. Why is that? Is this a polarization issue? Is this a secret among women? Is this something women realize as something they must do when they are young? What goes through a woman’s/girls mind when she is rejected for the first time.
What is a sure sign of a country being rich but doing nothing? The(ir) fat people. Is America the prime example–or are there other countries with, but not in the news, fat people? Why is it there have never been trophy-men? You know the girls who stand next to race winners? What’s up with that?
Hosebag Bonnie. The Ocean City town slut from Bull on the Beach. Find her. Make her. Redo the restaurant.
Chick comes up with the idear of entertaining via taking people to bars. She subsequently orders and takes/delivers drinks/food to HER clientele and pays restaurant or bar. The restaurant manager tries to stop her–because she charges prices above those displayed in menu. Now there’s another wasted activity.
What’s the greatest thing about money? The fact that you can hide it.
The problem with playing so much is that you can’t
What else can you hide? A woman can bide. Reality can hide. A woman’s reality is the most elusive thing in all of physical science. Even more elusive the unified theory.
What elusive? How do I become elusive? Falling behind some bar. Just in front of the bartender. The girls, almost twins, find their way, teasing me for writing and not flirting, the fear of revealing what I am actually writing, revealing. Should I make mention of the loneliness? The loneliness of the ocean? The ocean, I say, is just in front of me and if I concentrate enough, if I focus enough, I can make a tear drop from my eye either into my nose or my mouth and taste a diluted version of the ocean. Want to become that ocean. The ocean is me.
For whatever reason I feel these bars growing on me. If I don’t leave them soon, if I don’t depart from this place that I already left so many years ago, then I will become that American nightmare–I am never to be that nightmare because I am not brave enough. I am to o weak. Just like the meatloaf. The bartenders name is probably Corey. Yes, Corey, wears an orange t-shirt with a small logo iron-glued, that read: “Team USA Something 2003 Olympics”. I wonder if he’s the owner. Corey the bartender is also the owner of yet another new business idear, the result of so much entrepreneur run amok and/with nowhere to go.
There is a brand, yes, another brand, beer, Yuengling, (small boy?) that resembles, when spoke, the ocean. Why the ocean? Because the ocean is the most beautiful earthly color when it is not reflecting the light from elsewhere. And although I should vodus on the light from elsewhere, instead I see and hear the life of everything. That everything is a female(?). With short or long hair I cannot tell best if I don#t write something about her soon I will lose my compassion for all other things and be carried away to places long since left behind and lose my temper in a folly of gibberish only decipherable by aliens born of our ocean. They drink, you know, they drink of my mother’s milk and when she runs out they bitch for more. Our Pauls and Peters bellow some kind of rule.
They will tell me. These people. They will tell me, eventually that the picture I draw with these words will fall upon heavy paper. Lead paper I would think. It is so easy to turn off a woman even if you play her game. Because her games are so… just tell them you live in another country. A country you have no idear about. A country they have no idear about. If they become confused they will all eventually ask what you are writing. The writing becomes something that transcends thought–as if there were physical proof of a precursor to a thought. You will waste your thought then because… if you cannot bring a Dan Brown thought you will never sell two million copies of anything. What is the secret of success? To say and do anything you like.
Is she obsessed or is it I ? I looked to my left and only saw the upper thighs barely clad and she noticed–oh did she notice–and made me feel as though–I had already seen too much.
It’s sloppy. That girl is sloppy. The things we do are sloppy. Our arguments are so sloppy. So he wants two shots. Sloppy shots. The other guy things he can order so drunk. And he said “thanksweatheart”. She didn’t even smile only left the tip. And that was that. If it weren’t for the checker-brand at the end of the bar. She’s not black or white but instead white and green. And suddenly… a woman (who else) interupted me and asked what I am doing. I responded with: do you want to fuck me? She was rightfully appalled. She stomped off. I hadn’t take two drinks/sips from my cheap draft when…
(Back to) The three things.
Truth, Wisdom & Passion.
I see it in the bars. I can feel it in the persons. The confusion in which they live, and all the girls lost at their bar stools. If it wasn’t all about about…? Imagine what they would think. Imagine what they would imagine if given the chance. Theirs is the yours of things already past. Beyond the stuff of which we are made. Beyond the bierdeckel that covers her eyes. She exists in a world of righteous because, well, her pussy allows it. And if the bartender allowed more… what would come of it? The things they all question. A small tin can that once housed a breadth mint sucked on by children but never finished. You know, Jude, if I were famous I could play this irreverent spiel and no one would think twice about it. They would as soon forget my existance, allow me to be flinged into some form, some crevice–cleavage–and be lost beyond all human form.
The first thing you smell is the kool-aid. That erroneous product of American ingenuity plastered like bad graffitti on the walls of our prophet (or psyche). So much so that the smell didn’t even come from the mix in water but the skin of a beautiful woman–from behind her left earlobe, from real flesh. Only America can manufacture such (a) transition. The only one-up example comparable is that of the universal church and the(ir) idea(r) (chemically speaking) of the holy trinity and the transubstantiation.
What meek shall inherit the earth? In the context of biblical America the meek are (or seem to be) the supposed servants of a church or preacher. Again, I must ask, are these people (as servants) meek? The western evangelica, as limited in income as he or she may appear, is in no way poor. But is he or she meek? Perhaps this is the reason the word meek is used. Inherent in the word “poor” is financial or economic means (or lack thereof). “Meek” on the other hand is more flexible; particularly in its essence there is no indication that it references those with limited means. Meek could mean of limited spirituality or lack of character. But who (what American) would want to deal in those sorts? In contrast to “poor” the meek are probably perfectly represented by the American bible fanatacism.
The opportunities of living are diminshed in proportion as what are called the means are increased. (-Thoreau from an essay by Henry Miller on Thoreau.)
Last (or lost) in home around subtle thunder with no storm. There is little to be said in these silly days where one war is being questioned and another baptized with a hope of finding POWs. The controversy and duality is enorm, like a gap in the knitting of a large quilt. But no one cares. In this home place full of “buts” and more caring in the name of JC. Where can we get the wisdom? It’s there like the sea Peter was working when the biggest fish found him. As though there is no place to swim.
Kenneth Patchen: Journal of Albion Moon, Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer, Collected Poems.
A very nice young lady at a Connecticut Ave. bookstore demanded that she record the info regarding Patchen. And now I fel as though her writing at least will haunt us through this book. Oh terror of another sort.
To rid myself teh burden I will drown these sorrows in tabloid-like excess.
From H. Miller. “So much for the dominant note. As for the subdominant the thought is–don’t wait for things to change, the hour of man is nw and whether you are working at the bottom of the pile or on top, if you are a creative individual you will go on producing, come hell or high water. And this is the most you can hope to do. One has to go on believing in himself, whether recognized or not, whether heeded or not,. The world may seenl ike hell on wheels–and we are doing our best, are we not, to make it so?–but there is always room, if only in one’s own soul, to create a spot of paradise, crazy though it may sound.” -Preface to Hummingbird Essays
And I agree, Mr. Miller, that every creative should recognize God’s voice and give it its due. (Or maybe not.)
How is it possible that a society can achieve so much and when that achievement is at its pinnacle and that achievement was achieved with at least a certain level of ingenuity, all that is left atop the pinnacle is a horde of bumbling idiots?
Where are the wingnut poets? Where is the literary voice that will lead the way to the first (first???) nation-state self annihilation?
What to do in a perpetual state of hopelessness? Humankind continues because its source is unattainable–as though locked away in some quantum mechanic dimensional refuge(e). It’s not an issue of science, i.e. question + knowledge acquisition = answer. Perpetual hopelessness is both of the physical and the mystical. It is between the two we drift and fondle each other in grand colored paddle boats.
Is the artist destined to play second fiddle? To the pauper? Or is it the piper? “Portrait of an artist as a killer,” I say! Take him out there, into the jungle and machete his way to the top of a pyramid, where the honorary man, the controller of all else, rests his fingers and has his feet manicured, only to face his life, seeping away in a puddle of…
The idear, the premise, is to produce. The artist must produce, no matter what. If (s)he does not, then he is not an artist. Basta!
Oh, come on! Allow me a blast from the past. Please. Something frivolous, with just as much mendacity as when it was first mentioned…
The problem is that America has been beat-up for two long. She can’t take it anymore, but that is beside the point. Now we must face her. And so the (he) healthy witness her because she is witness-able and the sight they see motivates them more because she is so disgust(ed)(ing). The…
Something is produced that is “sick”. And then they find out that the artist who produced it is actually (medically) sick.
Why is USD copied more than MS products?
If one considers the state of society then my desire to go thru life childless was valid. But now that I am with child-born (the reason for which I shall not address here in order to save you from the utmost in matrimonial boredom…) I must face certain realities. For example, I believed with all my life when I was fucking the American Bimbos that childlessness was the answer. The derogatory remark, although un-called for as a
in generalizations, I hold relevant in the details (yet to be revealed). Yes, both the women/girls/chicks and the society/national mess, gave me such conclusion. And yet I travelled aborad and was enthralled by the European Bimbos. And so there was a trick (played on me). For nature, you old bitch, is tricky. You witch. I think not! There were powers beyond. Something beyond. (Like the people who jus sat next to me. Obxoxious as they’d like…) That droe out the seed. That planted the seed. Which held and became… The God’s wanted that I bring them something but not on soiled ground.