Saturday, December 26, 2009
HENRY MILLER b DECEMBER 26 1891
"To be free, as I then knew myself to be, is to realize that all conquest is vain, even the conquest of self, which is the last act of egotism. To be joyous is to carry the ego to its last summit and to deliver it triumphantly. To know peace is total: it is the moment after, when the surrenderer is complete, when there is no longer even the consciounsness of surrender. Peace is at the centre and when it is attainded the voice issues forth in praise and benediction. Then the voice carries far and wide, to the outermost limits of the universe. Then it heals, because it brings light and the warmth of compassion."
The Colossus of Maroussi (1941)
i have to admit to having mixed feelings about miller's work. there's a lot of it & i loved colossus of maroussi & big sur and the oranges of heironymous bosch. there were parts of the big work(the rosy crucifixion, comprising 3 big novels)that were truly fine. i never thought he was a great writer about sex & couldn't understand the big deal that was made about that aspect of his writing. like his buddy, lawrence durrell, there was something in the prose that seemed forced, even awkward at times. i think it has to do w/the limitations of his subject matter. if you're going to put yourself front & center in your narratives, you'd better be able to let it rip. i talking honesty & unflinching self reflection. i always felt as low as miller seemed to want to go, the depths were just a little too pristine, too aestheticized. as shit-stained as his boxers probably were, he never mentioned them.
when he was good, engaged w/something outside of himself(like greece or big sur), he soared remarkably high. he was our 20th century whitman. seeing a picture of him later in life, down on the coast in big sur, you understand why the beats revered him & why he's such an influence on their work. he's the most american writer i can think of w/all the various contradictions & failures & triumphs that implies.