Nexus: The Int'l Henry Miller Journal - Vol. 6
Page 3 – What India Means To Me (by Henry Miller)
This five-page homage to India and its people was originally published in January 1949, in the English section of a Bombay-based magazine called Kaiser-I-Hind. Miller had written it only a year after India had won its independence from English colonial domination. Miller blames the morally and spiritually “bankrupt” West for the physical and social strife afflicted upon a now “mummified” India; but Miller anticipates a re-emergence of the nation, which he characterizes as spiritually enlightened, where the human spirit blossoms to its fullest (even when “clad in rags”). [Annotated by Karl Orend]
Page 11 – The Edge of the Miraculous – First Reflections on Henry Miller and Art (By Karl Orend)
Besides his output as an author, Henry Miller also produced over 3,000 watercolour paintings in his lifetime, some of which have been exhibited internationally. In this essay, Karl Orend traces the origin of Miller’s relationship with the visual and musical arts, and considers how they influenced his written work. Through his interactions with Art and artists themselves, he learned how to observe life with greater attention to detail, recognizing life itself as a “form of great art” (Art in everyday life)---something gleaned from Elie Faure’s History of Art. The flow of his writing style reflected the free, creative flow of the music and painting that inspired him. He learned to paint with words, and to make those words interact with the reader (as does great Art). While the act of writing tired him later in life, painting offered relaxation, freedom, and a reward equivalent to love.
Page 39 - Dear Henry, Dear Father – An Epistolary Exchange Between Heinrich and Henry Miller, 1937 (by Karl Orend)
In 1937, while Miller continued his struggle as a full-time writer in Paris, his father, Heinrich, also struggled with failures in the tailoring business in New York. Here, Orend presents a summary of a letter written from father to son, requesting a discrete, monthly financial contribution to help with his support of the family. But Heinrich Miller does not fully realize the extent to which Henry has been suffering in Paris. Using quotes and explanations, Orend summarizes Henry’s responding letter, in which he blames the “too dreamy” paternal bloodline for its sad lack of success, and itemizes the reasons why his literary career has left him in near-poverty and forces him to shamelessly accept all charity---even to steal from friends. This is a rare and intimate glimpse into the relationship of Henry Miller and his father.
Page 44 – Fucking Your Way to Paradise: An Introduction to Anarchism in the Life and Work of Henry Miller (by Karl Orend)
As he has done with the subject of Art in this issue, Karl Orend takes the theme of Anarchism and traces its origins and influences on the life and work of Henry Miller. Influenced in his anti-war stance by his grandfather Valentin Nieting, an anarchist sympathizer, young Henry Miller had a turning point in 1912, upon attending a lecture by Emma Goldman, and purchasing books there by Nietzsche and Max Stirner. Miller would come to embrace an individualist anarchism, which would later find contradiction with his desire for community and compassion. But the “danger” that revolutionary anarchism presents was almost always present in Miller’s written work; he wanted to contribute to the destruction of the State so that a brotherhood of individuals could arise—a perspective of Miller’s that is often minimized and lost in the smokescreen of the sex found in some of his writing. Orend does well to establish what “anarchist” meant back in the early 20th century. He also shows that Miller stuck tenaciously to his individualist anarchist ideals for nearly his entire life.
Page 78 – Personal Landscapes: The Influence of The Story of My Heart on The Colossus of Maroussi (By Eric Lehman)
In Miller’s Colossus Of Maroussi, the Greek landscape is described with a grand and pronounced lyrical style, which seems uncharacteristic when one considers the city-centered novels that preceded it. In this essay, Lehman suggests that this change was influenced by Miller’s reading of Richard Jeffries’ The Story of My Heart, which viewed the English countryside for its social and spiritual symbolism, and not merely as geography. Through Story (which he read before writing Maroussi), Miller found a kindred spirit in Jeffries, whom he wrote about in his Books In My Life. Several key links are made between the two books, including the portrayal of natural landscape as having a transformative effect on human character and soul.
Page 90 – Henry Miller Decades Later (by Richard Kostelanetz)
Artist Richard Kostelanetz was an undergrad at Brown University in 1961, when he wrote a B.A. honors thesis on Henry Miller. Decades later, in 2009, passages from this thesis finally see publication within the pages of Nexus. Kostelanetz looks at Miller’s prose of self-liberation, and its pre-occupation with human filth. He also examines Miller as voracious reader and literary critic. A number of critical points are also made: his occasional use of "sad clichés," and the weakness of his portrayal of the sexual experience. In conclusion, Miller is placed on the level of “major writer” in the hierarchy of American literature---one level beneath the greats.
Page 115 – Writing the Underground (by Maria Bloshteyn)
Miller’s texts and characters have been repeatedly linked to Dosteovsky’s Notes From Underground, although Miller never made any explicit connection between his work and that particular novel (although he greatly admired the Russian author). However, Bloshteyn--author of the recent The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry Miller’s Dostoevsky--finds several compelling links between the unnamed narrator of Notes From Underground and Miller’s Paris-based novels. Besides outward similarities of age and life situation between Miller’s “Henry Miller” character and the ‘Underground Man’ of Underground, these two anti-heroes share similar perspectives on contemporary culture and its dominant paradigms. Bloshteyn goes further to find influence of this novel on the works of Anais Nin and Lawrence Durrell.
Page 165 – Hoki Enacts the Death of Mishima (by Harry Kiakis)
Harry Kiaskis once again provides Nexus Journal readers with a glimpse into the daily life of Henry Miller, as recorded in his personal journal notes, this time circa 1971. Here, we find Henry’s wife Hoki about to open a private Japanese club on Crenshaw Blvd, and acting out the public suicide of Yushio Mishima; and we get Henry’s reactions to the cost of his Insomnia book and his first screening of the documentary The Henry Miller Odyssey. Other brief details and quotes pertain to his son Tony, Christmas cards, and Henry getting a kick out of a brand new tape recorder.
Page 169 – Henry Miller’s Passionate Reading of Images (by Branko Aleksić)
Aleksić maps the theme of ‘art in cinema’ throughout the writing career of Miller. Miller is placed within the new cinematic art movement in Europe in the 1930s, and shown to have been influenced by it in his adoption of Surrealism in the 1930s, as found in his screenplay Scenario (a Film with Sound). Filmmaker Luis Buñuel figures prominently in this influence. [essay translated by Karl Orend]
Page 184 – Henry Miller’s Tropic Novels: Weather, Sickness and Benjamin’s Flăneur (by Heather Marcelle Crickenberger)
Referencing Walter Benjamin’s study of Baudelaire as flănuer, Crickenberger finds that Henry Miller fits the profile of an active urban observer; an intellectual parasite on an idle stroll at his own pace, particularly through the streets of Paris in the novels Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Miller’s narrative is filled with “placeness,” in which the flănuer feels at home—in fact, the external world merges with the monologue he presents us with, and the urban landscape comes to reflect his mental state. Miller’s flănuerie is a form of spiritual practice.
Page 209 – Transgressing the Law of Literature (by Katy Masuga)
Masuga considers the limitations of language, and how Miller’s fluid and abstract prose helps to orient readers to an awareness of allusions rather than deceiving them into believing that words can render accurate images of the world. Miller accepts that writing begins where life ends, because the writer is removed from whatever compelled him to write. This dilution of expression is further eroded by attempts to capture objects with specific words—in reality, meanings are fluid. Miller captures the layers and textures of possible meanings . His constant play between the unification and destruction of language “announces the possibility of instability within language itself.”
Page 240 – Melancholic ‘Jabberwhorl Cronstadt’ & the Epileptoid Beast (by Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti)
In this essay, Ranson-Polizzotti interprets the character ‘Jabberwhorl Cronstadt’ (from Black Spring) as a veiled description of author Lewis Carol. Although the character is thought to be based on Miller’s friend Walter Lowenfels, clues are presented from Millers’ text to suggest that Miller consciously meant to reference Lewis Carol (including, but not limited to, his use of “nonsense” prose and the name “Jabberwhorl,” which is similar to Carol’s “Jabberwocky.”)
Page 249 – M: The Studio for Henry Miller (by Roger Jackson)
Jackson provides us with an overview of M: The Studio for Henry Miller, which acted as a studio and bookshop for the works of Miller. The studio was founded and run by Kathryn Winslow in Chicago between 1948-1958. Miller contributed his works and was appreciative, but, as the quotes from letters reveal in this essay, Miller was also embarrassed to promote a studio named after him; Winslow, it seems, was disappointed by his reaction to her generous efforts on his behalf. The piece contains ten photographs of the exterior and interior of the studio as it existed in the 1950s. It was torn down in 1958.
Page 260 – Review Essay: Obelisk and Olympia (by Jeff Bursey)
Bursey reviews the books, Obelisk: A History of Jack Kahane and the Obelisk Press (Neil Pearson, 2008) and The Paris Olympia Press (Patrick Kearney, 2008).
The current volume is available for US $20 (or $24 internaitionally) via the Nexus website.