Saturday, April 21, 2007

Things Will Be Slow For 3 Weeks

I've got a new day job, which is more demanding (i.e. extended and less-predictable hours) than the job I'm leaving. Until I get an idea how to work in my free time, this blog will be a low priority for me. I expect this could take three weeks or so. I may still be able to post one or two things during that time.

In the meantime, here's a minor Miller item. The Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon has a literary theme. Each room if dedicated to various authors. Although rooms are dedicated to writers such as Mark Twain, Poe, Melville, Jane Austen, as well as Dr Seuss, Hemingway and Colette, the management has cheekily dedicated the toilet and sinks to Henry Miller.

The Henry V Miller Memorial Restrooms are comprised of the Tropic Of Cancer room (for women) and the Tropic Of Capricorn room (for men). I found this item (and photo) from a former guest of the hotel, over at The Writer Mama.

I wonder what other Miller titles could be used in this context: a sign above the urinal saying Stand Still Like The Hummingbird; or, above the sink: Remember to Remember to Wash Your Hands. There are better ones, I'm sure. Please amuse yourselves in the Comments section while I'm away.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Annotated Nexus - Pages 24 to 30

24.0 Henry and John Stymer finish dinner at the Italian restaurant. Stymer convinces Henry to drive out to Long Island with him to meet Belle, his "nymphomaniac" mistress. It's a long drive due to car malfunctions and the cold. Stymer continues to dominate the conversation, with topics such as immortality, living death, sex, and "playing the game" of life.

Belle is not there when they arrive. Henry is invited to stay the night, though Stymer keeps him from sleep through ceaseless conversation. Stymer admits to Henry that he'd asked Belle to leave the house so that he could proposition Henry with an idea: ditch their wives, move to South America, and live off of Stymer's savings while Henry writes books based on Stymer's stories about the people he'd met during his years in the justice system.

24.1 "Wanted to know if I had done any writing yet."
Stymer seguays from his self-description of being a "mind with a prick attached to it" to asking Henry if he's been writing. Miller answers that he has not been writing. Stymer then makes a few observations about Miller:
a) RE: his listening skills: "I know that you're vitally disinterested. It's not me, John Stymer, that interests you, it's what I tell you, or the way I tell it to you."
b) RE: his evasiveness: "... I know in advance you won't give me the right answers. You're shadowboxer" .... "I can't imagine what you deal in, unless it's air."

25.1 Long Island
The New York island on which Brooklyn and Queens may be found, as well as the more suburban and rural Nassau and Suffolk (i.e the Hamptons). Stymer's non-so-secret young lover Belle lives on Long Island; he convinces Henry to come along for a drive to meet her. Long Island is approximately 120 miles long; Belle's place is 60-miles from the New York City limits. It takes them three hours just to reach Long Island, because the cold necessitates visits to garages along the way. While on Long Island, they make frequent stops to warm up.

25.2 Strega
Stymer mentions bringing a gift of wine and of Strega (an 80-proof Italian herbal liqueur invented in 1860) to Belle.

26.1 “To fear is not to sow because of the birds.”
Stymer quotes this "Oriental saying" in order to criticize himself for having "never lived." I couldn't find a source for this quote, except that it does appear to be a Zen proverb (see Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, by R.H. Blyth, publ 1942). It seems to be more frequently quoted as "fear not to sow because of the birds" (for example, on this headstone in Ohio.) It must have been around for a while, because this aphorism was apparently chiseled in Latin onto a bird bath from a school built in the U.K. in 1874.

27.1 "It's not so terrible to spend your life in prison ... if you have an active mind."
This said by Stymer, after mentioning the Marquis de Sade [see 23.2/3]. The Marquis did most of his writing while incarcerated in prisons and asylums for most of his life. Stymer believe we are all "self-made prisoners" playing roles without courageously engaging the mind.

28.1 a double dose of benzedrine
Belle grew tired of waiting (so the note says) and is not at the house. Stymer offers that Henry stay the night. Henry tries to get some sleep, but Stymer keeps talking. Henry finds himself "electrified" by his words, as if he'd just taken benzedrine.

Benzedrine amphetamines were invented to help clear nasal passages, but the stimulating side-effects turned it into a recreational drug ("bennies") The use of the term here seems to be an anarchronism of sorts. The drug was patented in 1928: this pre-dates both the present-tense of the novel (1926) and certainly the flashback scene of the Stymer anecdote (1917/18).
28.2 Stymer's wife
Stymer complains about his wife to Henry: a) she bores him to death; b) he hasn't heard an intelligent word from her in 20 years; c) she "turned [him] into a masturbator" [see 22.1]; d) he's so sick of her that the idea of sex with her makes him "ill."

Stymer states that he's contemplating murder: "I've decided to do away with my wife." His reason for not just getting a divorce: "Why support a lump of clay for the rest of my life?" He wants to get out of the country, and asks Henry to join him.

28.3 Henry's wife
Henry's first response for not taking up the offer is: "But I've got a wife too!" At the time of this anecdote, this would have been Beatrice Wickens, whom he'd married in June 1917. "Though I haven't much use for her, I don't see myself doing her in just to run off somewhere with you." Stymer offers to help Miller with an easy divorce, but Henry is "not interested." "Not even if you could provide another woman for me. I have my own plans."

29.1 "crazy adventure"
This is how Miller describes Stymer's plan to run off together to Costa Rica or Nicaragua, where they would embark on a writing partnership (described above in the summary). Listening to the plan, Henry hasn't the "slightest fear" that he'll be tempted to go, "but I thought it only decent top pretend to draw him out."

Stymer continues talking for another few pages, but Miller decided to insert a paragraph break in the middle of page 30, just as Stymer takes a drink of ice water.

<--- Previous page 23 . . . . Next pages 31-33 --->

Monday, April 09, 2007

Lawrence Durrell On The Internet

One of the most persistent figures in the life of Henry Miller was Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990). As a young man, Durrell's reading of Tropic Of Cancer unlocked the possibilities within his own inate writing skills. Durrell sought Miller out, became a member of the Villa Seurat circle, then went on to become an esteemed author in his own right. Through the decades, in person and in letter, he and Miller remained confidants.

This posting is meant to be an internet resource for anyone wanting to know more about Lawrence Durrell, who has and will continue to make more detailed appearances in this blog.

Source: Miller's own autobiographical chronology:
1937 – “Momentus meeting with Lawrence Durrell.”
1939 (Aug) – Stay with Durrell in Corfu.
1959 – Art And Ourtrage incl Durrell.
1962 (Jul) – Meet Durrell at Edinburgh Writers’ conference/ Made tape with Durrell for BBC.
1962- Left with Durrell for Paris where we made readings for recordings from our books (for La Voix de l'Auteur).
1963 - Capricorn issued in paperback by Grove Press and A Private Correspondence, with Lawrence Durrell, (Dutton) and Black Spring (Grove Press).
1968 (Mar) – Durrell visits HM in Pacific Pallisades.

Read his biography on Wikipedia and Kirjasto. William Nedlake has created his own Durrell Archive, which includes a good overview of related information. IMDB has a chronoligcal list of Durrell's four spouses. But if you only have time to visit a single Durrell-related site, it should no doubt be that of the International Lawrence Durrell Society, which publishes its own journal and every two years holds a Durrell conference.

The British Library holds an extensive Lawrence Durrell Collection. The University of Lousiville has a holding of rare journals and first editions. The University of Victoria's Durrell collection holds various letters by Durrell, including those written to Alfred Perles. A smaller correspondence collection (1 letter to Miller, the rest to the Honors) can be found at McMaster University. There is also a Durrell Library in France and a Durrell School in Corfu.
Time Magazine published bulletins of Durrell's 1961 marriage and his first visit to the US in 1968. Egypt Today reports on efforts to save Durrell's home in Alexandria.
The photo above is credited to Terry Disney.

A full listing of Durrell-related articles in the New York Times. Kenneth Rexroth on Durrell. Peter Levi's Good Poet, Bad Novelist. Martin Turner is disappointed by his poetry. James Gifford's Reevaluating Postcolonial Theory in Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. Shirley Lutz Zivley's A Quartet That is a Quartet: Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. Stefan Herbrechter's Durrell, Encounter, Deconstruction. Matthew Bolton's "Spellbound by the Image": A Reflective Response to Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. Beatrice Skordili's The Author and the Demiurge: Gnostic Dualism in The Alexandria Quartet. Jack Stewart's Objects in Space and Time: Metonymy in Durrell's Island Books. Paul H Lorenz's Quantum Mechanics and the Shape of Fiction:"Non-Locality" in the Avignon Quincunx. Mile Diboll's Durrell's Alexandria Quartet in its Egyptian Contexts. James Gifford's Oil for the Saint; Return to Corfu . Here's Gifford with Stephen Osadetz in Gnosticism in Lawrence Durrell's Monsieur: New Textual Evidence for Source Materials. Jeremy Robinson compares DH Lawrence and Durrell. Finally, here's Mark D Hawthorne's The 'Alexandra Quartet': the homosexual as teacher/guide. A list of more critical works.

A long interview in French on French radio. An interview in the Paris Review, 1959. The National Library of Australia has a holding of Durrell interview transcripts. Here's both a transcript and MP3 audio file of a 1986 Durrell interview with Lyn Goldman. This is not an interview, but you can hear Durrell horsing around with Alfred Perles and a microphone at UBUWEB.

First, some general bibliographical listings: LD Archive; Booksfactory; Alibris; Abebooks; and the bibliographic checklist. His plays: Doollee. Full text for some Durrell poems: at Poemhunter; at Oldpoetry; Nemea.

Excerpt from Bitter Lemons. A Penguin reader's guide to Justine.
The most crucial document is A Private Correspondence, covering the first letters exhanged between the two men to Miller's death: publication variations; a NY Times review; TIME review; reference to a radio dramatization of the letters.

The two men also collaborated on Art & Outrage: publ variations. Durrell edited and wrote the intro to The Henry Miller Reader. Miller wrote on essay called "The Durrell of the Black Book Days", in The World Of Lawrence Durrell. Durrell wrote the intro to The Mind and Art of Henry Miller as well as to Dear Dear Brenda, with a contribution as well to Happy Rock: A Book About Henry Miller. A quote by Durrell on Miller, from Henry's daughter's website.

References to letters between Miller and Durrell may be found in the PBA Gallery listings: 1, 2, 3. References to Durrell speaking on Pacficia Radio in honour of Henry's 8oth birthday.

Jeremy Robinson discusses the relationship between Durrell and Miller.
BBC programs written by Durrell. Quotations on BrainyQuote. Items available on Ebay. Member of the 1973 Cannes jury. His astrological chart. Nigel Anthony reading from Balthazar. The documentary, Spirit of Place: Lawrence Durrell's Greece. A tribute, with photo of a plaque erected at his former home in Greece. Buy yourself a Greek villa overlooking the house. Five photographs in the National Portrait Gallery.

And don't forget to search this blog for "Lawrence Durrell" in the bar up top.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Cover of 'The Cosmological Eye'

The Cosmological Eye (1939) was the first Henry Miller book published in the United States. It's a collection of previously published chapters and essays, mostly from Black Spring and Max And The White Phagocytes.

Cosmological was published by New Directions, under the eye of James Laughlin. Even though Laughlin died in 1997, the book still remains under his eye, in a sense. The surrealist artwork on the cover of the book contains an image of an eye superimposed over white clouds. The eye belongs to James Laughlin. Laughlin [seen above in the banner art] was still a Harvard student when he founded New Directions Publishing in 1936; the Cosmological Eye cover was designed by some of his ivy-league pals.

Premiere magazine film critic Glenn Kenny has made reference to this fact recently on his blog (James Laughlin's Eye). Taking his cue from the recent Laughlin scrapbook autobiography, The Way It Wasn't, Kenny passes on a bit of trivia about the cover of Cosmological Eye making it to the big screen. In Ingmar Bergman's 1949 film Thirst (US/UK title: Three Strange Loves) is a shot in which a character holds Miller's book in his hands [a still of which is seen below, as found on Kenny's posting]. Laughlin wrote to Bergman to ask him why he chose that book, but recieved no reply.

Incidentally, the actual The Cosmological Eye essay is about Miller's artist friend Hans Reichel.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Miller In The Pacifica Radio Archives

Several documentary items related to Henry Miller exist in the archives of the Pacifica Radio network (a.k.a KPFA). One of them--a 30 minute interview with Miller--is available online as a free MP3 file.

First, here's a list of the items (descriptions only) in their archive. It seems they may be purchased in either cassette tape or CD format, for $7.50, $15 or $40, depending on length:

Recorded in Paris, 1972. 8 minutes.
Reading from Tropic of Cancer, and actuality of an award ceremony in Paris making Miller a member of the French Institute of Arts and Letters. Awards presentation by Monsignor Didier Raguenet.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 3, 1972.

Recorded Jan 1972, produced by KPFK. 23:40.
American author, Henry Miller in conversations and interview with LC. Powell, Alfred Perles, Lawrence Durell, Anais Nin, Jacob Gimbel, and poet Robert Snyder.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 1972.

Produced by Cynthia Sears, Los Angeles, 1972. 58 minutes.
Biographical sketch of the American author.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 19, 1972.

Produced by Cynthia Sears, Los Angeles, 1972. 60 minutes.
Lawrence Durrell, Dr. Lawrence Clark Powell and Joyce Howard discuss Miller's life and work.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 29, 1972.

5. The Man and His Friends.
Produced by Cynthia Sears, interview by Jean Phan; Los Angeles, 1972. 62 minutes.
Friends of Henry Miller discuss theirimpression of him. Includes statements by L.C. Powell, Robert Snyder, Alfred Perles, Lawrence Durell, Anais Nin, and Jacob Gimpel.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 12, 1972.

Produced by Cynthia Sears, Los Angeles, 1972.
Portrait of the American author through interviews and readings of his work.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 5, 1972.

Directed by Michael Lindsay ; produced by Jay Kugelman. Los Angeles, 1982. 148 minutes.
Dramatized reading of the letters of Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell.
Broadcast on KPFK, Dec 26-30, 1982.

Los Angeles, 1972. 211 minutes.
Author reads selections from his own works.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 4-25, 1972.

Recorded October 1971. 63:00
Author reads selections from his own works. CONTENTS: Insomnia or The Devil at Large.
Broadcast on KPFK, Nov 14, 1971.

Read by Norman Belkin. 67 minutes.
Reading of Miller's short story.
Broadcast on KPFK, June 1964.

Read by Michael Gwynne. Los Angeles, June 7, 1964. 37 minutes.
Reading of Henry Miller's "The Staff of Life".
Broadcast on KPFK, Aug 1, 1964.

Recorded in New York City, 1956. 53 minutes. Interviewed by Ben Grauer. See this posting for more information regarding the LPs this interview is on.
Interview with author Henry Miller, best known for the novel The Tropic of Cancer, and the heated controversy surrounding its publication on the basis of obscenity charges. Miller discusses his writing, his contributions to the world of literature and art, and his battle against censorship.
Broadcast on KPFK, Sep 6, 1991.
Part II. 42 minutes. Part III. 95 minutes.
Broadcast on KPFK, Dec 6, 1991.

Los Angeles, 1967. 63 minutes.
Reading of Miller's novel.
Broadcast on WBAI, Jan 7, 1967.

Produced by Mark Torres. Recorded March 1997. 59 minutes.
Hosted by Verna Avery Brown. This is nineteen in a series of twenty six programs which explore the opinions and ideas of some of America's most intriguing figures. This program features novelist Henry Miller, in a series of interviews on the topics of his writing, life in general, politics and astrology.
Broadcast April 7, 1997.

Los Angeles, 1972. 56 minutes.
Lawrence Durrell, Lawrence Clark Powell, and Robert Snyder read selections from Miller's works.
Broadcast on KPFK, Jan 26, 1972.


A 25-minute excerpt from Ben Grauer's 1956 interview with Miller in New York City is listenable online in both MP3 and Real Media formats on the Talking History website [scroll down when you get to it - Sept 28, 2006]. The interview is part of Pacifica's From The Vault series, which is available for sale, along with material compiled from the sources listed above.

A good part of this interview involves Henry describing his years with Alfred Perles in Clichy (1932-33), including his daily itinerary of writing, eating, biking, working at the Tribune, and hanging out with prostitutes at the bistros and cafes.

Here's a run-down of other topics, with timecode references:

(5:55) Being bothered by fans at Big Sur;

(6:25) Learning from the writing routine of Perles: geting more done by doing little but doing it regularly;

(9:40) Why he chose the titles Tropic Of Cancer and Tropic Of Capricorn;

(12:25) The character of French prostitutes;

(17:20) The Place de Clichy -- "like Broadway."

(21:30) Admiration and awe of France -- "The whole history of France is exciting."

(24:00) In praise of the French character.

(26:15) In praise of the character of French women -- "Frenchmen know how to include women." By comparison, "the American woman is a drag."
In case you missed the link above, here it is again: Henry Miller interview, 1956.