Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch by Henry Miller

April 10th, 2012 at 4:34 pm

“Remember, if you can’t make money, make friends.” – Henry Miller

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch by Henry Miller

I care not for trends and fads, nor do I care to know how The Establishment regards the life and letters of Henry Miller. But at the rate I’m going, I’m going to have to keep reading Henry Miller books and eventually develop an opinion of my own. In the meantime, the opinion is verging on positive.

Henry Miller’s Big Sur book is 400 pages of rambling, rants, idle preponderances, and anecdotes. The book simply eschews. At every page. It seemed a bit Thoreauish. My favorite excerpts are below. Remember, Big Sur does not exist. Don’t go there.

It would be too easy, too convenient to refer to any degree of prescience in Miller’s Big Sur book because I am quickly learning that there is no prescience. Nothing changes. The writing is on the wall. We are. It is.

“I would rather be surrounded by the work of children and the insane than by such “masters” as Picasso, Rouault, Dali or Cezanne.”

“Well, nobody belongs who’s trying to simplify his life. Nobody belongs who isn’t trying to make money, or trying to make money make money. Nobody belongs who wears the same suit of clothes year in and year out, who doesn’t shave, who doesn’t believe in sending his children to school to be miseducated, who doesn’t join up with Church, Grange and Party, who doesn’t serve “Murder, Death and Blight, Inc.” Nobody belongs who doesn’t read Time, Life, and one of the Digests. Nobody belongs who doesn’t vote, carry insurance, live on the installment plan, pile up debts, keep a check account and deal with the Safeway stores or the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. Nobody belongs who doesn’t read the current best sellers and help support the paid pimps who dump them on the market. Nobody belongs who is fool enough to believe that he is entitled to write, paint, sculpt or compose music according to the dictates of his own heart and conscience. Or who wants to be nothing more than an artist, an artist from tip to toe.”

“I am not interested in the potential man. I am interested in what a man actualizes – or realizes – of his potential being. And what is the potential man, after all? Is he not the sum of all that is human? Divine, in other words? You think I am searching for God. I am not. God is. The world is. Man is. We are. The full reality, that’s God – and man, and the world, and all that is, including the unnameable. I’m for reality. More and more reality. I’m a fanatic about it, if you like.”

“I abhor people who have to filter everything through the one language they know, whether it be astrology, religion, yoga, politics, economics or what. The one thing about this universe of ours which intrigues me, which makes me realize that it is divine and beyond all knowing, is that it lends itself so easily to any and all interpretations. Everything we formulate about it is correct and incorrect at the same time. It includes our truths and our errors. And whatever we think about the universe in no way alters it…”

“Man is not suffering from the ravages wrought by earthquakes and volcanoes, by tornadoes and tidal waves; he is suffering from his own misdeeds, his own foolishness, his own ignorance and disregard of natural laws. Man can eliminate war, can eliminate disease, can eliminate old age and probably death too. He need not live in poverty, vice, ignorance, in rivalry and competition. All these conditions are within his province, within his power, to alter. But he can never alter them as long as he is concerned solely with his own individual fate.”

“The sum of all knowledge is greater confusion.”

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