Monday, October 09, 2006

The Annotated Nexus - Pages 17 & 18

17.0 Henry continues his rant against Anastasia. On this page, the focus is on the feelings of a man who realizes his wife is in love with another woman; only Miller then suggests that this love is merely a ploy to manipulate him.

17.1 "someone like you can make me jealous"
This is actually at the tail end of page 16, but the theme continues halfway through page 17. Miller admits his jealousy to Anastasia, and feels "humiliated" by it. "You're hardly the type I would have chosen for a rival."

17.2 morphodites
This is the "type" Miller is referring to, in description of Stasia. This term is slang for hermaphrodite, being something with both male and female gender characteristics. Miller says he doesn't "like them any more than I like people with double-jointed thumbs." This implies indifference, but he is clearly offended by homosexuality, even though he attempts to clarify that "I'm not talking morals, you understand, I'm talking like and dislikes." (See also 14.8.)

17.3 fags
Within 17.2, Miller uses an example: he's met "fags who were entertaining, clever, talented, diverting, but I must say I wouldn't care to live with them." (the line regrading morals actually follows this one). Though Miller defines this as a simple matter of taste, he still opts to use offensive instead of neutral terminology. "I'm prejudiced. Bourgeois, if you like." (See also 14.6, 15.1+2.)

17.3 "a real man"
If Mona were going to betray Miller, he would have prefered that it were with a "real man." That her lover is a woman leaves him "defenseless." His objections do indeed seem "bourgeois," as his concern is more what other people would think, that his wife is "violently attracted to another woman." It implies that something is wrong with him (as a man), but he "can't lay a finger on" what it may be.

17.4 "a mixture of sham and reality"
Miller than launches into the possibility that Mona's "unusual store of affection" (i.e. lesbianism) is merely a "mixture of sham and reality" for the purpose of "conditon[ing]" her husband and "poison[ing] his mind." Mona is said to have told Miller about "experiences with girl friends before marriage," but he has strong doubts about the extent of them qualifying as lesbian love, especially since she's never admitted to sleeping with any of them.

Stasia's reaction to this is to get defensive then break into tears. Does this imply that she recognizes the possibility that Mona is simply playing at being a lesbian?

18.0 The scene begun on page 15 wraps up here, as Mona comes home and ends the drama. The next section begins with more thoughts on Dostoevski.

18.1 dog
Mona comes home, finds Stasia in a state of distress; she chastizes Miller and comforts Stasia, insisting that she must stay the night. Stasia looks to Henry for approval, to which he says the biting line, "Of course, of course! I wouldn't turn a dog out on a night like this." The irony is that Miller has already characterized himself as the "dog" [see 1.1] in this threesome, but, in his cruel case, has usually been turned out.

18.2 Feodor
Dostoevksi's first name, alternately spelled as "Fyodor"

18.3 "I have never pretended to understand Dostoevski."
Miller returns to the Russian novelist, begun on pages 11 & 12. Similar to his thoughts on those pages, his relation with Mr. D (at right) seems to be more intuitive than academic ("I know him, as one knows a kindred soul.")

18.4 "even to this day"
Miller had not read all of Dostoevski's works as of summer/autumn 1952, when he began Nexus. He wanted to save some for "deathbed reading."

18.5 Dream Of The Ridiculous Man
Dostoevski's final short story, written in 1877 [full text here]. Miller can't remember if he's ever read it or heard anyone talk about it.

18.6 Marcion/ Marcionism
Miller throws in the fact that he knows nothing about these two subjects either. I've found no connection between Dostoevski and Marcionism, so he simply seems to be saying, one can't know everything.

Marcion (110-160) was a theologian who accepted only the Book of Paul in the Christian bible, and rejected the Hebrew bible. His theology became known as Marcionism.

18.7 "I can never picture him wearing a hat"
This being Dostoevski; an example of the "aura of mystery" that Miller finds around his idol. It's true, one is hard-pressed to dig up a photo of Mr. D wearing a hat; but, in the interest of being thorough, please see the photo at left: Fyodor's personal hat, encased in glass at Dostoevsky's House in St. Petersburg. (found the photo here).

18.8 Swedenborg['s] angels
I have no idea why Miller connects the idea of "hats" with those that "Swedenborg gave his angels to wear." I guess he thinks it just as ridiculous to imagine angels wearing hats as it is Dostoevsky.

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was a Swedish scientist and theologian, who claimed to have divine communication with demons and angels while personally visiting heaven and hell. As such, he felt qualified to write descriptions of how things work in the netherworlds, including how angels dressed. I could find nothing about hats, per se, though Swedenborg liked to picture angels in reddish-purple gowns, white linen [ref.] or naked [ref.] depending on the mood. And if you dressed incorrectly, you were refused entry to heaven [ref.].

18.9 Berdyaev
Miller goes on to quote Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948) regarding Dostoevski and evil. [Miller had also quoted Berdyaev on page 9 - see 9.1]. Essentially, the quote explains that evil is undesirable, yes, but also a useful human experience, as one becomes stronger in resisting it. (quote continues onto page 19). [see 12.8 regarding the subject of Evil in Dostoevski's work].

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