Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Annotated Nexus - Page 38

38.0 Henry continues to lament the affect Mona (June) is having on him. He has become paranoid. He lives in the vacuum of his mind...the mind machine; if the machine stops, he will be annihilated. He's been reduced to a coward.
38.1 Sometimes it was the puppet I clutched in a frenzy...
This is a reference to Count Bruga, the puppet that Anastasia (Jean) had crafted, and June had brought home in advnace of bringing home Jean. [the puppet was earlier mentioned at 8.28]. This is one of the objects that Henry lashes out at in his "confused" and "murderous" state: "Whatever threatened to menace our lair." This includes a piece of stale cheese ... yep, he was losing it.
38.2 murder myself? I tried..
From page 36: "When a situation gets so bad that no solution seems possible there is left only murder or suicide. Or both." During this period, Henry--desperate for June's attention--made an attempt to kill himself with pills and exposure to cold (by lying naked on the bed with the windows open, allowing the winter air to get in). He also wrote a suicide note for June. He awoke 12 hours later, without any negative effect upon him--and an indifferent reaction from June. For an account of this, see (for one) Always Merry And Bright (Jay Martin) pp.126-127.

38.3 "Loving and loathing; accepting and rejecting; grasping and disdaining; longing and spurning: this is the disease of the mind."
The quote above seems to be a version of--or Henry's own adaptation of--a quote found in the Hsin hsin ming (or Xin Xin Ming), a Zen text written by Seng-ts'an (died in 606). There appear to be discrepancies in the translation, but none seem to contain the full listing that Henry had written here. But the R. H. Blyth version has a line that says: "The conflict of longing and loathing, -- This is the disease of the mind." In 26.1, Henry quoted another Zen translation, that may have also been from the same 1942 book by Blyth. As I interpret this, emotions and the affect they have on the mind is the disease.

38.4 Solomon
Henry says that "Solomon himself could not have stated" the above quote better. King Solomon (born around 1000 BCE) is one of the biblical kings, revered for him wisdom. Solomon: ""Gold, silver, and rubies are nice, but we treasure far above those knowledge, wisdom, and understanding".

38.5 Dhammapada
Henry follows this up with a quote from the Buddhist Dhammapada: "If you give up both victory and defeat, you sleep at night without fear." (Henry's reply: "If!"). As with many other quotes, I don't know if Henry worked from memory on this, or if he was referencing a specfic translation that I can't find. The quote appears to derive from Line 201 of the Sukhavagga ("Happiness") section of the Dhammapada. These are verses said to have been spoken by the Buddha. Here are some variant translations:

1. Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat. (serve.com)

2. A victor only breeds hatred, while a defeated man lives in misery, but a man at peace within lives happily, abandoning up ideas of victory and defeat. (dharma.ncf.ca)

3. Conquest begets enmity; the conquered live in misery; the peaceful live happily having renounced conquest and defeat. (web.ukonline.co.uk/buddhism).

38.6 Knight Errant
Describing himself at that time as a coward, Henry notices how closely a coward and a fool are to a Knight Errant. The Knight Errant is the romantic image of the Mediaeval "knight in shining armor" who wanders the land (which is where the "errant" fits it; it doesn't refer to "error") heroically saving damsels and fearlessly slaying dragons. Miller offers a quote by Cervantes (1547-1616) from Don Quixote, which defines the Kinght Errant. It's a full paragraph quote; I won't re-quote it here. In a nutshell: he'll approach any danger without fear. By comparison, Miller offers that a coward "braves all dangers, runs every risk, fears nothing, absolutely nothing, except the loss of that which he strives impotently to retain."

<--- Previous Page 37 ... Next Page 39 --->

6 Comments:

Anonymous Voytek, Cracow, Poland said...

i just discovered your blog, and man i am impressed, you've been doing this for more than two years now so i'll have to catch everything up

henry miller opened my eyes and made lots of things look different.. and better, so your blog just amaze me

i'm from poland and a lot of miller's work is still not translated (only the best known novels and letters to durrell and cendrars)and it's difficult to get english copies... you just can't imagine how helpful your blog is

thanks again and keep up this amazing work

6:05 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Thank you, Voytek. I hope you come back often.

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a girl who quoted Miller this on her msn profile. She was very odd.

2:53 pm  
Blogger Bill Arnold said...

I corresponded with Henry Miller and his wife Even between 1961 and 1980 when Henry died, and created a Henry Miller-Bill Arnold Collection at Amherst College in Massachusetts. I am finishing a novel on HM in 1911 called Aimée's Secret due out this year. Scholars might find some of our letters at ACL of research value. I can be reached at billarnoldflorida@gmail.com.

Bill Arnold

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