Thursday, August 02, 2007

Visions From Madame Blavatsky

According to a blog called Blog-Sothoth, there is a Carl Jung documentary DVD out there in which the Extras section features a bit about Maud Oakes. Oakes was one of the many artist neighbours of Henry Miller while he lived in Big Sur. In her New York Times obituary in 1990, Oakes was described as an "ethnologist and writer," with a special interest in Guatemalan Indian tribes. I could not find any Miller references to her, not even in Big Sur And the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch, but this Bob Nash wesbite seems to verify that Ms. Oakes lived on Partington Ridge with the lot of them.

Anyway, here's the anecdote, as apparently told on this Jung DVD (as quoted from the Blog-Sothoth wesbite):

"[Oakes] was nearly killed in an automobile accident in the mountains of Peru, and underwent a long convalescence. Her nextdoor neighbor and good friend was Henry Miller, who told her before the voyage that she should stay home. He'd had a premonition that she would undergo a catastrophic event if she went to Peru--he said Madame Blavatsky came to him in a dream and warned him. Oakes found out the hard way that Miller was indeed prescient."

Madame Blavatsky will surely get her own posting one of these days, because she became somewhat of a fixation for Henry when he was a young man. I thought he was over her by this point in his life, but, with the nighttime visitations and all, I guess not. Blavatsky was the founder of the Theosophical Society, whose spiritual interests set the stage for the New Age movement in later decades.
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The photo of Miller in the banner art was taken by Johan Hagermeyer (OAC Collection).

2 Comments:

Anonymous Kreg said...

Thomas Nesbit's book, Henry Miller and Religion, has some good information on Miller's interest in Blavatsky. For example, Miller chose the name he gave June in Tropic of Capricorn from Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence.

"Mara" means "illusion" in Sanskrit and in Capricorn everything about Mara's past and persona is illusory. Blavatsky's book says, "The unwary soul that fails to grapple with the mocking demon of illusion, will return to earth the slave of Mara."

In Miller's personal copy of The Voice of the Silence, he underlined a footnote to this passage which reads, "Mara is in exoteric religions a demon, an Asura, but in Esoteric Philosophy it is personified temptation through men's vices, and translated literally means, 'that which kills' the soul."

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