Saturday, September 29, 2007

Brassaï On The Internet

"There are many photographs which are full of life but which are confusing and difficult to remember. It is the force of an image which matters." -Brassai , Amateur Photographer, June 18, 1969.

Gyula Halász (1899-1984) was a Hungarian photographer, filmmaker and sculptor who went by the professional name, Brassaï. He is best known for his night photographs of Paris in the 1930s. When Henry Miller first arrived for his near decade-long residence in Paris, he sometimes accompanied Brassaï on these excursions. Brassaï also took one of Henry's most iconic photographs, of him leaning against a door frame with a cigarette between his fingers. Miller added to Brassaï's iconic status by dubbing him The Eye Of Paris. The two men remained friends in the following decades, although things seemed to sour near the end after Brassaï wrote the Miller book, Henry Miller: Happy Rock. (?)

There are many anecdotes to tell about these two men together, but this post is meant only as a resource for further internet information about Brassaï.

Chez Suzy (1932-33), Brassai.
Listing of his works held in galleries at Artcyclopedia.
Listing of items held at Georgetown University Library.
Refernces to letters between Brassai and Alfred Perles, and between him and Abe Rattner.
Four prints at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
1999 exhibit, National Gallery of Art. And at the Getty Museum.
Reviews of the 2000 exhibit, Brassai/Picasso: Conversations With Light -- a) Intl Herald Tribune; b) Absolute Arts.
2003 exhibit, FKG Gallery.
2005 exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
2006 Brassaï auction, reported by the New York Times, and iPhoto Central.
2007 exhibit at the Berliner Festspiele.

PHOTOGRAPHS (selection)
PUBLICATIONS (incomplete)
Conversations with Picasso. Preface by Miller.
Histoire du Marie. Intro by Henry Miller.
Miller's Quiet Days in Clichy (1956) with photos by Brassai.
Biographies about Brassai: Brassai: An Illustrated Biography; Brassai. See Miller's "The Eye of Paris," which is most widely available in Wisdom of the Heart.

Listen to a Brassai interview (in French) on French radio, 1978.
In the 1990 film Henry & June, Brassai is portrayed by actor Artus de Penguern.
Caricature of Henry Miller, drawn by Brassai and published in the Chicago Tribune.
Brassai is seen in the The Henry Miller Odyssey documentary.
Brassai joins Miller for the film festival at Cannes, 1960.
Brassaï and Miller at the Hôtel des Terrasses (from Miller Walks).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Trailer - 'Henry Miller: Asleep And Awake'

A new trailer for Henry Miller: Asleep And Awake, Tom Schiller's 35 minute Henry Miller documentary (1975), has been posted on-line. I've attempted to embed the video below, but I've never posted video before--maybe it won't work. If not, go watch it on Flixya.

The trailer may also be viewed on the Indiepix website. Indiepix is now selling this as a DVD or even as a download to your computer. The website describes the film this way:

Filmed when the author was 81, "Henry Miller Asleep & Awake" is a voyage of ideas about life, writing, sex, spirituality, nightmares, and New York that captures the warmth, vigor and high animal spirits of a singular American artist. The man is Henry Miller and the room is his bathroom. It's a miraculous shrine covered with photos and drawings collected by the author over the course of his long and fruitful life. Graciously, in his raspy, sonorous voice, he points out the highlights of his improvised gallery, speaking of philosophers, writers, painters,mad kings, women, and friends.

There are a few stills of Henry from the production on the Indiepix website as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Van Gelre's International Henry Miller Letter

The International Henry Miller Letter was a multi-page newsletter that was published from June 1961 to March 1966. It was produced in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, by its editor, Henk van Gelre.

No.1 - June 1961
Include's Miller's My Life As An Echo; "Preface for Ashikari and the Story of Shunkin"; and, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird!

No.2 - December 1961
Includes Miller's The Women in the Course of Ages; "An unpublished introduction to an unpublished book."

No. 3 - August 1962
Includes an excerpt from Miller's Time of the Assassins.

No.4 - December 1962
Includes Miller's "Introdution to Just Wild About Harry."
Include's an excerpt from Gerald Robitaille's "Cher Maitre" from The Story of Myself.

No.5 - August 1963

No.6 - April 1964
Includes Miller's "Preface to Chair et Metal"; On Reading Homer; Order and chaos chez Hans Reichel; and, More Letters to Herbert F West.

No.7 - March 1966
Includes Miller's "Introduction to Jack Bilbo's book about himself [Rebell aus heidenschaft]"; and, A Letter to John Cowper Powys.
Henk van Gelre was born November 17, 1928 in Nijmegen. He studied Theology and Political Science, worked in publishing, and was a magazine journalist on such topics as literature, philosophy and painting. He is also an expert on Nietzche and Nicolai Berdjajew.

In 1957, when van Gelre was 28, he wrote to Henry Miller, telling him about a trip he was planning to take to Paris. Henry advised that Henk meet up with another of his fans who was already in Paris, Gerald Robitaille. Henry was kind enough to send a copy of Why Abstract to van Gelre, signed "To Henk from Hank (Henry Miller), 5/15/57" (from an outdated listing on Two years later, van Gelre finally met Henry, who had returned to Paris. He describes this anecdote in his essay Gerald Robitaille, which was translated and published in Ping Pong magazine in 1998.

Van Gelre began publishing the IHML when he was 30 years old. In 1962, he wrote a book in Dutch called Henry Miller: Legende en Waarheid [Legend and Truth], which was published on Tielt/Den Haag. A year after he stopped publishing the newsletter, van Gelre had an essay ("La language de la vie") published in a Miller-dedicated issue of Syntheses magazine. In the piece, he expressed a disappointment in Miller for his "conscious distortion of facts, events and relationships from his life in Miller's so-called autobiographies." As a result, a rift developed between the men, which never appears to have resolved itself.

I found some of the preceding biography (which I had loosely translated on Babel Fish) at Henk van Gelre's website. It appears he's still alive and working.
Newsletter content information was partly collected from the Bibliography of Primary Sources v.1.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

International Henry Miller Letter #5

Issue number 5 of the International Henry Miller Letter was dated August 1963. It was published by Henk van Gelre in the Netherlands. The IHML series ran only seven issues over a span of five years, from 1961 to 1966.


Page 3: Reichel is as Reichel was. (Henry Miller)
Miller's tribute to his painter friend in Paris, Hans Reichel.

Page 5: What I remember of Henry Miller. (Hilaire Hiler)
Hiler's memoirs of Miller. I've already recounted some of this material in "Hilaire Hiler Teaches Henry To Paint," and "Hiler Impressions: Talking To Miller."

Page 10: Antonio Bibalo's Opera.
A news item about an opera based on Miller's Smile At The Foot of the Ladder, composed by Antonio Bibalo.
Page 11: Four letters of Henry Miller to Count Keyserling. (Henry Miller)
Four letters from Miller to Keyserling, a philosopher and author - Feb. 17, 1936; Apr. 19, 1938; June 7, 1938; Aug. 25, 1938. With an introduction by Keyserling's son, Manfred Keyserling.

Page 20: Two letters of Henry Miller to Hebert F. West. (Henry Miller)
Two letters to Professor West of Dartmouth College (who later got him this gig), written from the road during Miller's Air-Conditioned Nightmare tour of America - June 8, 1941; undated 1942?

Page 22: A French de-luxe edition of "Sexus."
News item about a new French edition fo Sexus published in two volumes by Cercle du Livre Precieux in Paris, and including 50 erotic photographs by Emil Cadoo.

Although the following image doesn't appear in the Int'l HM Letter I describe (nor necessarily in the book described above), I include this photograph by Emil Cadoo as a point of interest:

This Emil Cadoo photograph (and more) may be found at the Evergeen Review.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Annotated Nexus - Page 37

37.0 It's 1926 again. Where Chapter 3 begins midway on Page 36 to the end of 37, Henry exposes us to his feelings of humiliation in relation to June. The "Paradise" that was once his love affair with her is gone. He now feels less a man, hurtfully ignored but too neurotic to leave, passively hoping for things to return as they once were, no matter how unlikely.
37.1 this little Beelzebub
[page 36] Henry refers to himself this way, in opposition to what he feels he should be (a "Man," swallowing his pride and leaving the situation). There is no universal agreement on who Beelzebub is meant to be, other than a high-ranking demon. Perhaps Henry is comparing Man to Satan; as one rank less than a Man, he is Beelzebub (often considered Satan's "second"). More likely, Henry is referencing Binfield's Classification of Demons (1589), in which each of the "seven deadly sins" is attributed to the influence a demon. Beelzebub is the demon of Gluttony. Henry, in this scenario, is being a glutton for punishment.
37.2 "I was a creature returned to the wild state."
[Page 36] This continues to idea established way back in 1.1, that Henry's humiliation had reduced him to a dog.
37.3 "I was powerless to blame her..."
[Page 36] The unnamed "her" is June Mansfield, called Mona in Nexus.
37.4 Nothing was ever lost that cannot be redeemed.
Henry sets this apart from the rest of the text; the fact that it's also set in italics suggests it's a quote. If so, I'm unable to find the source. Probably his own. Henry himself attributes it to "the God within us." He mentions it as rationalization for his actions: his foolish hope that the "Paradise" of his former loving relationship with June will return.
37.5 "Adam who survived fire and flood."
Miller adds that the quote at 37.4 may also be attributed to the Adam referenced here. This is the biblical story of Adam--the apple from the tree of knowledge being eaten, leading to eternal shame and punishment for humanity for all time etc etc. In this case, Adam is meant to represent all men (humanity, of course, managing to survive fires and flood as a species), psychologically aided in survival by a belief that redemption will eventually be found from "original sin."
It's of course dawned on me before, but doing this annotation really reminds me how often Miller used religious references in his writing. I am personally a freethinker, non-believer, heathen, athiest, whatever; so if any of you religous folk care to correct me on matters of relgious reference, feel free to do so.
<--- Previous pages 35-36 ... Next page 38 --->

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mr. Miller Goes To Washington

During the Spring of 1917, 25-year old bachelor Henry Miller got a job in Washington, DC. He was a mail-sorting clerk for the U.S. War Department in the months leading up the American involvement in WWI.

Henry had been jumping between various office jobs. He was extricating himself from involvement with his older lover, Pauline, and deflecting talk of marriage from his regular girlfreind, Beatrice Wickens (Beatrice claims he was the one asking her, and she was the one holding off [1]). Some time around April 1917, a customer at his father's tailor shop gave Henry the tip about the clerk job in Washington [2] (the United States declared war on Germany on April 6). Henry immediately went for it.
Henry Miller has not written much about his month or so in Washington in May 1917. While working there, he wrote letters to Beatrice in which he expressed a love intensified by their absence. He spoke of plans for their future. [3]
However, he also seemed to consider this an opportunity to reestablish himself away from his trapped life in New York. He wasted no time in arranging a meeting with an editor at The Washington Post. He managed to talk himself into a freelance reporter position, offering to do so without pay. The editor promised to consider any submissions Miller made to the paper. [4] The arrangement lasted only ten days [5]; Henry soon found himself back in New York.
The crucial turning point of events for Henry occured when the United States government passed the Selective Service Act on May 18, 1917. Henry soon received notice that he must register for the draft, like all other men aged 21-30, on June 5, 1917. Concerned about doing military service, Henry realized that he could be exempted if he was married and had family obligations.
Although he did register as was mandatory (in New York, on June 5 [6]), he also submitted a draft deferment. Created with the assistance of Beatrice, this fraudulent document [7] cited that he had an impending marriage, and was obligated to care for his ill father. [8]
Days after filling out his war registration, Henry and Beatrice--who were not married and were living apart--spent a week at the Claridge Hotel at Broadway & 44th Street, apparently to discuss their future (amongst other things, I imagine) [9].
In Joey, (Book Of Friends III), Miller describes his crisis: "One morning I awoke in bed with my piano teacher [Beatrice] and it dawned on me with a rush that I might possibly be drafted for the bloody war. That was the last thing on earth I wanted to happen. I sprang out of bed shouting 'We've got to get married!' and off I rushed to the barber for a shave and haircut. We were married in jig time and I felt fairly secure of not going to war." (p. 65)
Henry and Beatrice married on June 15th, 1917, just ten days after he registered for the draft.
Henry managed to avoid service in WWI, but had enlisted himself to battles in the arena of Marriage. They would officially divorce on March 29, 1924 (after years of turmoil). He did return to Washington for visits in later years, such as a stay at Carese Crosby's home in the 1940s.

[1] Henry Miller: The Last Archive (desciption of material in the estate of Beatrice Wickens). Biography of Beatrice Wickens (excerpt, by Barabara Miller): "When ever Henry had mentioned marriage to Beatrice she would say 'wait.'"
[2] Happiest Man Alive by Mary Dearborn, pg. 58.
[3] ibid.
[4] ibid. And, Always Merry and Bright by Jay Martin, p.47.
[5] ibid.
[6] Nexus - Int'l Henry Miller Journal, Vol. 3 (2006), p.225.
[7] Henry Miller: The Last Archive. Beatrice's 'Tell-All' Book (descriptions) - Section II: "Helping Henry obtain a fraudulent draft deferment."
[8] Happiest Man Alive, p. 58.
[9] ibid.