Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Annotated Nexus - Pages 46, 47

46.0-47.0 Miller completes his thoughts from the previous pages, stating that our human obsession blinds us to the mystery that surrounds us. Chapter 4 begins: Henry is determined to woo Mona with gifts, but he’s broke. He plays mind games with Mona and Stasia, using hunger as his hot potato.

46.1 the rajah stripping himself naked
Rajah is Sanskrit for “king.” There seems to be no particular reason for an Indian reference here, other than the fact that Miller had an interest in Indian culture. Perhaps I’m misreading any deeper meaning. In this context, Henry imagines himself at the door of Death and discovers that nothing is there. This somehow enables him to achieve “restituion […] full and complete”: stripped naked of his ornate exterior, he is left with a swollen ego. The effect, he realizes, is insane, because we still remain humbled “before the same mighty ocean. The ocean of love. There it is – in perpetuum.” In the folly of our human ego, we fail to experience the mystery and profundity of the natural and spiritual world around us. “No wonder the angels in our midst are unrecognizable.”

46.2 “one day it will be pleasant to remember these things”
Miller ends this chapter by providing this quote. This is actually an English interpretation of the Latin quote Et haec olim meminisse iuvabit which he had written on page 43 [see 43.1].

46.3 drive Stasia really mad
Chapter 4 begins with Miller in a corner in the dark of the basement apartment, falling “deeper and deeper into the pit” of hysteria of his snow-bound existence [connecting this with the narrative begun on page 43]. In the wee hours of darkness, Henry is “hatching the most diabolical schemes to drive Stasia really mad..” Back at the beginning of Nexus [see page 10], Stasia was in a mental hospital. If Henry wants Mona back, he needs to get Stasia out of the picture.

46.4 second courtship
Miller’s ‘Plan B’ to driving Stasia insane is courting Mona again with material goods (such as antique earrings). I make this note here for clarity because Miller just says “her,” not “Mona.”

47.1 mind-machine
Miller continues the usage of this term he’s established on page 38 and used throughout Chapter 3. On this page, his automaton “mind-machine” forces him to be preoccupied with trivial and practical issues concerning the wooing of Mona, when he could be putting his brain to better use, such as contemplating whether “the soul is corruptible or incorruptible”“to the mind-machine one problem is as good as another.”

47.2 Akond of Swot
Henry is glad that his quest for gifts for Mona (which he can’t afford) is a positive thing, because it anchors him “in the world” by keeping him motivated; in this case, with the urge to find money. “Yes, it was truly important to remind myself of such things occassionally and not carry on like the Akond of Swot.” This is a misspelling of the name of the Edward Lear poem, The Akond of Swat, which itself is an alternate spelling of the actual Akhoond of Swat (1794-1877), a Muslim saint from the mountains of Swat (in Pakistan). In the poem by Lear (1812-1888), he asks a string of increasingly nonsensical questions about the “Akond” (a fun read, in a style that must have influenced Dr. Seuss). My guess is that Miller didn’t want to descend into the kind of progressive madness that this poem implies.

47.3 had I seen Kronski lately
This is a small-talk question that Mona and Statsia would sometimes pose to Henry upon return to the apartment in the early hours, before the “smoke-screen talk would begin.” We last saw Dr. Kronski on page 42, when he gave Henry some pills.

47.4 Barley, Stasia’s poet friend
Mona and Stasia had run across a male poet named Barley “the other night,” during one of their nocturnal New York jaunts. Henry is told that he will stop by the apartment some time because he’d like to meet him. We will in fact meet Barley on pages 48 and 57.

The painting excerpt in the banner art is from Jackson Pollock's Naked Man With Knife.
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