Friday, January 19, 2007

The Annotated Nexus - Page 21

21.0 Miller reminisces about a long visit he once had with a lawyer named John Stymer; the visit was under the pretext of a business call for his father's tailoring business, but was really just an excuse to socialize.

21.1 Day such as this
A cold winter's day as described in 20.5. Miller goes into flashback, to a time when he would "gather together a batch of samples in order to sally forth and call on one of my father's customers." Miller worked for his father's tailor shop from 1912 to 1917. On page 29, Miller declares (within this flashback) that he has a wife. He married Beatrice in June 1917. The period spoken of, then, must be the winter of 1917-18: the tail end of his time working for his father.

21.2 father
Heinrich "Henry" Miller (1865-1941).

21.3 customers

21.4 John Stymer
Miller decides to drop in on Stymer because "with him the day might end, and usually did end, in most unexpected fashion." And that it does, as we will see over the next 15 pages.

Of John Stymer, Miller writes that he was "forever telling us that he would become a judge one day" ... "A lawyer, like any lawyer." I've yet to look into whether Stymer was a real person or not, or whether this was his real name. I've mentioned in a previous post that I believe this is the same man Miller calls Dyker in Black Spring (p. 121, Grove Press paperback). I will compare the similarities between the two characters in another post.

On this page, Stymer is busy with his head buried in a "mass of papers." Stymer gives Henry a dollar for a coffee while he waits, but begs him to return because he wants to "chat."

21.5 farting
"A foul smell pervaded the office, due to his inveterate habit of farting--even in the presence of his stenographer," says Miller of Stymer. I mention this here because I wondered if this was a significantly early use of the word and concept of "farting" in literature. According to Wikipedia, there are several earlier precedents, including James Joyce and Emile Zola.

Miller had in fact employed the term years earlier in Tropic Of Cancer: if you care to look them up, references to literal farts (not including metaphors) can be found on pages 80, 193, and 272.

21.6 buy a paper
Could have been one of 12 possible New York City newspapers circulating at the time. Henry breaks the one dollar bill by purchasing a paper: "Scanning the news always gives me that extrasensory feeling of belonging to another planet."

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