Thursday, March 16, 2023
And there was the time crossing the I-states Beth and I taking Erin to visit his father in a summer exchange. Highway tide rushing thru nondescript Illinois skirting the big Windy City which had a gravitational pull even as we passed then dun-coloured Indiana where rest stops were something crushing and barely relief and excited nearing a bridge over the Mississippi was that ever a challenge to spell and over the great river father so called and found the motel where we would meet on a hillside above. It got to be a good downpour there while I gathered suitcases from the car in rising wind and only after did I learn a siren sounded tornado warning just a mile or so away while I scrambled inside with our luggage. And in the lobby we saw a pen and ink drawing of the North Bridge in Concord by an artist we met at the North Bridge in Concord who drew as he sat by the North Bridge in Concord and sold us some prints of local interest. All interest should become local it just takes a bigger hand. The homely and not so majestic Concord River thereby tied us to the very Father of Waters tho it looked more industrial and smelled a smell but it was history and context and even trumped up riverboats and the map has life and eyes into the world however we want to read it then and now.
Monday, February 13, 2023
The extended philosophical passages in Henry Miller’s work have little resonance for me. It’s just argle-bargle, written in glib confidence. His use of slurs also exhibits glibness. He sounds enclosed when using slurs. Rather than showing rugged power, as profanity can, his usage deflects towards emptiness and cold hell. I acknowledge that he wrote at a time when profanity and obscenity were synonymous and offensive. Nowadays one hears fuck commonly used as an intensifier. The word becomes more a flimsy noise and distraction than a meaningful stun gun. Miller’s slurs have the same effect. They sound unexamined, and barely give testament. I see Miller’s method as sluice-like where the quantum of writing involves unleashing the stream. He wants to get as much out as he can where much means ‘capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’, as Keats lastingly had it. Some of ‘it’ is malarkey and literary tripe. When his acerbic beam is working, as well his sense of the absurd, matters gain a raiment of wonder.
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Neither On The Road or The Dharma Bums give much picture of him as a writer. Both give passing mention to his modest success as a writer, and he speaks of his notebooks here and there. No sense of him banging away at a typewriter. Given his peregrinations, filling notebooks would maybe not be a practical priority. The record of these books falls outside ‘pure facts’.
Monday, February 06, 2023
Henry Miller seems like a writer who would resonate with the Beats. Anyway, I have started Tropic of Capricorn for the sake of perspective. I read Tropic of Cancer a couple years ago in a bold attempt to figure things out. Both writers write self-reflectively, in a torrential way. What are the shining rocks in that stream?
Miller is worth reading, thanks for asking, but he is crass and coarse. His philosophical musings favour vitriol, and don’t exactly swing. The forthright determination to lay it all out produces some keen insights and acerbic bite along with pompous detritus. He’s ready to wring it all out.
In contrast, Kerouac seems almost innocent. Kerouac lacks Miller’s world-weariness; he believes the kicks are still there, even as semi-colons appear. Where Kerouac welcomes the choices of the world, Miller infatuates in priapic devastation. I detect no sweetness in Miller’s work, tho brave and chilling, whereas Kerouac’s sweetness reproves Miller’s taut and clumsy hedgerows.
The connections are interesting: Anaïs Nin, Laurence Durrell, the boho wanderers and dilettantes in the pre post war years, meeting an angry, fluttering, and almost round world. We can only be forgiving as we read. I am just the nobody reader who has chosen this task.
Sunday, January 29, 2023
Monday, December 26, 2022
The Mahabharata goes slightly less a-pace. I slipped off reading other things. The war is over for the Pandava’s, they have their kingdom again. Yudhisthira now feels the weight of kingly responsibility. He goes to his uncle Bhishma for advice. Bhishma fought for the Kaurava’s out of a sense of duty that doesn’t add up for me. Well there you are. His lessons for Yudhisthira bring Confucius to mind, not that I claim any breadth to that statement. Class distinctions stand inviolable. Warriors are warriors, Brahmins are Brahmins. Caste is understood as a sanctity. It is hard to wrap around this from my vantage. It reads like the bland list of advice that Polonius gives. I believe more action awaits, this part drags.