Saturday, November 05, 2005

Draco & The Ecliptic: The Book That Wasn't

DRACO: A long constellation of stars, near the North Pole, that astrologers have depicted as a dragon. It symbolizes self-sufficiency and cyclical infinity.
ECLIPTIC: The geometric plane around which the Earth orbits and the zodiacal symbols rest.

During Henry Miller's years at Villa Seurat, he became increasingly interested in astrology and mysticism. In 1939, he began announcing to friends that he was going to write his final book: a self-analytical text outlining what it was he'd been intending to do with his writing in the past decade. The book--to be called Draco And The Ecliptic--was vaguely conceptualized as a work partly informed by mysticsm. He planned to finish it in 1942, the year his own astrological charts predicted an intersection with his own ecliptic.

In 1957, in the preface to Big Sur And The Oranges Of Hieronymus Bosch, Miller gave an update of his works-in-progress, and mentioned that "Draco and the Ecliptic is still in the egg."

The book was never written, though it was still on his back-burner as late as the mid-60's. In an interview with The Paris Review in 1961 (page 33; this is a PDF document) Miller was asked what became of this project.

"That's been forgotten, though it is always possible that I may one day write that book. My thought was to write a very slim work, explaining what I had been trying to do in writing all of these books about my life. In other words, to forget what I had written and try once again to explain what I had hoped to do. In that way perhaps to give significance of the work from the author's standpoint."

Back when the idea was conceived in 1938-39, Miller desribed his intentions in various letters to friends. To Herman Keyserling, Miller defined the future work as a "joyous book of the mystic." To his old friend Emil Schnellock, he predicted a book about "the heaven beyond heaven." To Lawrence Durrell he admitted he didn't know what the hell it would be about. Jay Martin seems to hit the nail on the head when he described the project (in his Miller biography Always Merry And Bright) as "a title in search of a vision." (p. 335)

Miller's inspirations for the title apparently came from the Frederick
Carter book called The Dragon Of Revelation. Carter's book was published in 1931, and sought to analyze the Book Of Revealtion from the perspective of an astrologer. D.H. Lawrence had written the introduction to this book, which may help to explain how it ended up in Henry's hands.

If you want to full story of Miller's still-born book, you may want to acquire the 48-page essay In Quest Of Draco And The Ecliptic: Henry Miller's Interspacial Literature by Yasunori Honda. This chapbook (which I don't have myself) was published in 2003 by Stroker Press, and is written by the president of the Henry Miller Society of Japan.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I tell about your site to my relatives, and they say is beautiful. Thank you.
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Blogger Don said...

I just wanted to add my comments of praise to the others. I have been a huge Henry Miller fan for years, and your site is terrific, despite your saying you're not an expert. Thanks for all the hard work this site would have to be.

What could you tell us about Henry Miller's contact/s with Aleister Crowley, the noted occultist? I've read various versions and think this is simply one of the odder more wonderful meetings of literature, if it actually happened!

4:06 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Hey Don,
I read a Crowley biography about 8 years ago and was totally fascinated by him. Yes, I've read that he and Henry met once, and I've added that anecdote onto my long list of details to explore on this blog. But, since you brought it up, I'll post something about it sooner rather than later. Thanks for leaving a comment; and a flattering one at that.

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