Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Notes On Nexus

The PBA Galleries website contains excerpts from notes left by Miller regarding his book, Nexus. They're found in Lots 81, 82 and 98 of the Personal Archive Of Henry Miller (all items have long since been sold). I've quoted verbatim from PBA; I hope they don't mind.

Lot 81 - "Schema for Nexus." [10] pp. holograph notebook on taped-together versos of reproductions of a Miller watercolor, written during the early planning stages for Nexus, with outlines of plots & charaters mapped out in blue ink. N.p.: [c.1945-50's].

Miller plots outlines for pages 1-100, 100-200, etc., referring himself to some of his other notebooks, including the Bern Porter notebook also in this sale. The notebook also contains memories of real-life events Miller planned to describe: "June - Paris; Varèse, Zadkine, Duchamp, Hotel Müller...Fred and Jeanne - North Africa! Sterling and June - Trip! Clinton Avenue - Dave Elkus, Chess, Learning to drive, Buick throttle - trip to L.I. - June, Writing novel for Pop - Walks and talks, Lexington Ave "L" rides...Trips to negroes Long Island with Elkus..." With list of male and female characters and their real-life counterparts holographed by Miller at rear 2 pp. Yellowing to tape, else about fine, with important outline & character content.

Lot 82 - "Nexus - Censored Pages." 24 pp. carbon typescript of pages censored from the published version of Nexus due to sexual content, describing in detail Miller's weekend romp with "Amy" and "Suzanne," with reflective thoughts on "Mona," in reality his second wife, June. N.p.: [1959]. Truly pornographic (and thoroughly unrealistic) in nature, there is really nothing this cataloguer can quote here - should definitely be seen. (NOTE** See details in the Comments section of this posting).

Lot 98 - Outline notes for Nexus. Printer's dummy of Bern Porter's book of tributes to Henry Miller, titled The Happy Rock and inscribed & signed by Porter to Miller on rear free endpaper, dated 1945. Most of the 160-page book was left blank, so Miller used it as his notebook for very early outlines of The Rosy Crucifixion over the next few years, writing in holograph on 68 pages. N.p.: 1945.

In his "Notes for Nexus" section, Miller writes: "1. Begin by wind-up-en-bloc of all leading to cellar life at Henry St. & Love Lane. Long dissertations on books, music, painting, art and rapid-fire conversations - crazy yet purposeful, with June, Jean, Cohen etc. Develop Jean's pseudo-pregnancy and results of Cohen's examination. Develop morbid hysterical love for June - possessiveness - and wind up with attempt at suicide. Jean raises money for move to Henry St..."

A couple of curious observations regarding names: Miller refers to June as "June" in his notes, although her character's name was "Mona," yet he refers to the Stasia character as "Jean" as if that's her real name, when it's generally known that Jean Kronski's actual name was Mara or Martha Andrews [UPDATE: read this]. Did he only know her by the fictional alias June had concocted for her?

Also, the pregnancy in Nexus was tended to by "Dr. Kronski," who in real life, as I undertsand it, was Dr. Emil Conason. Yet, in his personal notes, he calls him Cohen. Maybe I've misunderstood something, or perhaps that was the name Miller originally planned to use for that character. [UPDATE AUG 4/06: I realize now that Conason's real name was Seymour Emil Cohen. For reasons unknown to me, it was later changed to Conason.].


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi RC!

Here are some comments on your two latest and always wonderful posts :

First, I’m intrigued by what you found for « Notes on Nexus » (July 19) concerning «Lot 82 – "Nexus" - Censored Pages ». You’re quoting verbatim the Pacific Book Auction cataloguer who says : « censored from the published version of Nexus due to sexual content, describing in detail Miller's weekend romp with "Amy" and "Suzanne," with reflective thoughts on "Mona," in reality his second wife, June. N.p.: [1959]. Truly pornographic (and thoroughly unrealistic) in nature, there is really nothing this cataloguer can quote here - should definitely be seen ». Personally, I think this knowledgeable auctioneer takes for granted that the pages in « Lot 82 » were censored, and I’ve heard this story before; but censored by whom? Maurice Girodias, the first publisher of "Sexus" would have loved these so-called pornographic pages. I’m inclined to believe they were simply discarded by Miller himself, who intended to use them in "Nexus 2".
In the 2004 French translation and publication (Editions Autrement, Paris) of this latter work (which I proudly own), the 21 erotic pages in question fully appear as part of the original corpus that Miller abandoned in 1962. On the other hand, what the PBA cataloguer says about "Nexus 2" ( Lot 83 ) is partly correct : « The book was never finished. Except for a small segment published in El Corno Emplumando (sic) during 1964, the entire text remains unpublished »; unfortunately he doesn’t seem to know that what the avant-garde Mexican magazine "El Corno Emplumado" published in January 1964 was exactly Henry’s narration of his weekend romp with Amy and Suzanne, two New York girls who appear from nowhere in Central Park during a very warm evening, when Miller is alone with a hard-on; and of course the cataloguer couldn’t have known in 1997 that "Nexus 2, Vacances à l’étranger" would eventually be published in France in 2004.

Second, regarding the rarely seen photograph of June with her natural thick Carpathian eyebrows (your July 16 post), it was taken apparently « circa 1927 », according to Kathryn Winslow in " Henry Miller : Full of Life" , Tarcher, Los Angeles, 1986, p. 176. She also adds under the photo : « Courtesy of Capra Press »; so this picture is probably not royalty free, although it appeared previously without artistic credit or ownership on page 142 of Henry’s "My Life and Times", Gemini Smith/Playboy Press, Chicago, 1971.

It’s very hot in Eastern Canada this evening, and since there are no Amy & Suzanne around, I’ll have a good pint of Guinness (or two!) instead…

7:54 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Pierre, I use this term rarely, yet it feels right in this case: AWESOME! Thanks very much for the support material. It's interesting and valuable.

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11:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to update the misleading comment made several years ago by Pierre. In fact, "El corno emplumado" published chapter 3 of Nexus. It is prefaced by this strange note: "Fragment of a work in progress which will soon be brought out by Obelisk Press, Paris." Strange because the book had already been published by Obelisk in 1960.

9:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even Jackson and Ashley write in "Henry Miller: A Personal Archive," that the "El corno emplumado" publication was a segment of Nexus vol. 2 (p. 26, item A23).

The "El corno emplumado" fragment is itself misleading, since it is indeed titled simply "Nexus II."

You can find the entire journal here:

10:33 am  

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