Thursday, October 30, 2008

Le Sel de la Semaine, 1969 - Part 3

Below is Part 3 of my breakdown of Miller's interview on French Canadian TV. The program, Le Sel de la Semaine, aired in 1969. You can start at the beginning to review Part 1 and Part 2. To actually view Part 3 of this interview, visit this YouTube link. As I've mentioned for Parts 1 & 2, please be aware that I've translated this myself, and my French is my no means great. Quote at your own risk!

[00:00] Fernand Seguin asks Miller about his general feelings about censorship. "I've always said, there's no need for censorship," states Miller. "That which is good stays with us. And that which is bad disappears." He then rhetorically asks "Who can judge? Who can we entrust with that?" He makes a point about Denmark, but I'm not sure I get it; something like, they eliminated censorship in Denmark and now no-one buys erotic or obscene books anymore.

[01:35] Recently, Miller saw something that "irritated" him. He felt that the success of his Tropics books in the States would open the door for other books. Instead, he saw that all it did was create a demand for books that were solely "so-called pornographic." "After that, I developed a disgust for my fellow citizens."

[02:25] When asked if he feels his goals have been achieved, now that he's had several major books published, Miller says Yes, but adds "the goals have changed throughout my life. I think that whe I started, like all young people--although I was nearly 40, but I was young in spirit--I thought that I could possibly change the world. It's an idiotic idea, isn't it?" He then fumbles his way through remembering a quote from St. Francis that his friend Joseph Delteil used to say (essentially, "Don't try to change the world, change yourself.") Henry reverts to English to explain himself: "Change your vision. Put yourself in another world. Change your world."

"Change your world," says Henry, pointing to his temple.

In changing his own vision, Miller has learned things about himself: answers to the big questions like, Who am I? Why is there Death? "Now, I have no goals. The road is open for me."

[04:00] Seguin points out that the successive censorships had delayed his ability to make a living as a writer until his 50s. "Yes, almost my 60s," adds Miller. He explains how he's never had use for a bank, that his money has gone into his pocket. He then explains how he and other Big Sur residents would rack up debts of $500 with the mailman, who'd delivered them groceries and other necessities on credit.

[05:30] Miller explains his "To All And Sundry" letter in The New Republic, in which he'd appealed to the public for supplies to keep him going at Big Sur. "It was out of necessity," explains Miller. "It was a brilliant idea, but I didn't realize it at the time." [Again, Miller starts speaking in English]: "A joke, I thought, to write like that." Henry had received things for one or two years after it appeared, like birdcages and umbrellas--"crazy things."

[06:37] "I also made watercolours for people who sent me money. Every night, I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning making watercolours. There were people who asked for a watercolour for $1. They gave me $1 and said, Give me a watercolour. And I said, Yes, at your service." He then makes reference to a Navy Commander who sent him $2 for two watercolours.

At 06:43, two of Miller's watercolours are shown on screen.

[07:58] Miller explains how was unable to claim his 45,000 in French royalties, unless he was living in France again. "I didn't want to return to France with a woman I detested" [his wife]. He stayed in the U.S. on the assumption that the money would eventually become available.

Once again, this part of the 1969 TV interview may be viewed on YouTube.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That which is good stays with us. And that which is bad disappears."

I can't wait for Henry Miller ABC.

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