Sunday, August 01, 2010

Questions & Answers In Montreal, 1969

In June 1969, Henry Miller had come to Montreal, Quebec, for a television interview with Le Sel de la Semaine, on the French service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). A few months later in Montreal, he attended a public screening of the film adaptation of Lawrence Durrell’s Justine. I have written of these two Montreal events from 1969, but not of a third: in June '69, he also found the time to greet fans at a question and answer session at his hotel, the Ritz Carlton. This Q & A was written about at the time by Alfred Rushton, in an article called “Meeting Henry Miller.”

Alfred Rushton was a long-haired, 27-year old writer in 1969, when he and a friend went to the Ritz Carlton hotel on rue Sherbrooke to hear Henry Miller speak.

Rushton describes the conference as taking place on a second floor salon of the Ritz. Miller had not yet arrived when Rushton and his friend entered the venue. There was a sense of formality about the room, even the rigid arrangement of chairs, that did not seem to fit Miller’s informal nature. The room was filled with “fashionable men and women,” each of them “posing his own prologue to Miller’s visit,” and scanning the room “to see if they could recognize a great or a near-great just coming into recognition of sorts.”

Miller seemed to be running late. To calm his nerves of anticipation, Rushton helped himself to martinis from the passing waiter. Finally, Miller materialized “in a very undramatic way, just the way you expect such a man to arrive.” He was accompanied by his personal assistant, Gerald Robitaille. Miller, in a brown suit with a bright yellow tie, sat on the “ornate couch where he looked like a man suddenly alone with his thoughts in the center of the curious.”

Miller on the set of Le Sel de la Semaine in Montreal, June 1969.
One of the first questions posed to him was about the upcoming film adaptation of Tropic Of Cancer: Was he writing the screenplay? “No,” answered Miller. “I can’t write a film script. But they’re going by the book. There’s a young guy, Rip Torn, who’s better-looking than I am, playing the part of me. Almost like looking at myself through someone else’s eyes.”

When Rushton’s friend asked a question about the possibility of liberation being brought about by the current cultural revolution, Miller responded with a raspy “Now, do you really give a good Goddam what happens to these people? You just asked that question for the sake of asking a question. Isn’t that right?” Rushton’s friend had to agree. A French reporter chimed in next, asking if Miller was still writing or painting. Miller: “I don’t plan my days now. I just do what I want to do. I could go out in the street and be hit by a car for all I know. I don’t plan for anything.” Miller then fielded some French questions with French answers, all to the same French reporter. Miller tired of this individual, and asked the room for other questions.

Rushton took the opportunity, and asked Miller about his opinions on Marshall McLuhan. “Well,” said Miller, “I haven’t read too much of him, but I think he’s saying some interesting things. He’s a brilliant man. I believe that in the future we probably will rely upon mental telepathy … the written word seems to be on the way out.”

[Read this post here, about Miller’s predictions about future communication].

When asked by another person about politics, Miller replied: “Look, I don’t bother reading the papers anymore. As far as I am concerned, it’s just Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.” About the racial conflicts occurring in the U.S., Miller suggested that “intermarriage is the only answer to that problem.”

Miller smiled when asked what he thought of Gore Vidal’s evaluation of him as being out of proportion to himself. “Vidal is a clever man, and maybe that’s why I dislike him. I don’t know … I’m not a very clever man […] Goethe was a genius. He wasn’t clever. He was far more than that. There’s a difference between being clever and being a genius.” Miller then asked his interrogator if his response was reasonable.

One questioner asked Miller about the many women in his life. “Every woman I’ve had has given me something…,” he replied. A young woman in the audience shouted out “I love you!” Rushton noted the intense, magnetic effect that Miller’s charisma and legend seemed to have on the assembled women and men alike. As Miller continued to answer whatever was hurled at him, while enjoying drinks and a cigarette, the photographers began flashing at him all at once, causing Robitaille to raise his hand to demand they stop. He then looked at his watch and concisely announced “Two minutes.”

Sherbrooke Street, Montreal, eight years later, in June 1977. The Ritz Carlton is in the background (with the flags). Photo: Coolopolis.

Rushton managed to get a copy of Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch signed by Miller, although his mumbled request for a dedication to his girlfriend was left unheard. As the formal event was officially dispersed, Miller continued to casually engage with people around his couch. Rushton, surprised that Miller wasn’t scooted off immediately, wandered back and found a seat right next to Miller. Someone asked Miller why he changed Mara to Mona halfway through Rosy Crucifixion. “In Hindu Mara means hell or anguish and Mara was hell on earth … I forgot I had changed the name. I am forgetful sometimes,” replied Miller. He added that Tropic Of Cancer would have been called the Ovarian Trolley, except for the fact that he forgot the name he’d written on the page.

With that, Miller suddenly got up for the back room, where he said goodbye to someone. For Rushton, as he and his friend walked away from the Ritz Carlton, the experience had felt like an encounter “in one of his recorded dreams, allowing us to become part of the dream image…”

Rushton’s account was published in 1970, in his small press book, Mind Maps (Poseidon Press: Toronto); the table of contents notes that the article, “Meeting Henry Miller,” first appeared “in the Harbinger.” (I haven’t been able to find any details about this Harbinger.)

Thanks to Roger for bringing this article to my attention.

NOTE: All drawings in the banner art have been excerpted from the cover of Mind Maps and are credited to the author, Alfred Rushton. All quotes, except those attributed to Miller, are from Alfred Rushton in his book.


Blogger glahn said...

Found your blog recently and it fits in nicely with my Miller obsession as of late. It's great.

10:41 pm  
Blogger Eric D. Lehman said...

Just the wrong time to read this, RC. Had to cancel my summer trip to Montreal because we bought a house.


4:15 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Were these excerpts approved for use by the author, Alfred Rushton?

10:16 am  
Blogger oakleyses said...

coach outlet store online, michael kors uk, new balance pas cher, michael kors outlet, north face, abercrombie and fitch, ralph lauren, nike air force, vanessa bruno, kate spade handbags, nike roshe run pas cher, air jordan, true religion jeans, louboutin, vans pas cher, sac guess, air max, hollister, sac burberry, michael kors, north face, nike free, ray ban sunglasses, air max, timberland, longchamp, nike air max, nike tn, converse pas cher, polo lacoste, coach outlet, true religion outlet, hogan outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, michael kors pas cher, replica handbags, ray ban pas cher, nike free pas cher, coach purses, hollister, oakley pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike blazer, true religion outlet, lululemon outlet online, true religion jeans, air max pas cher, nike roshe, mulberry, sac hermes

9:19 pm  
Blogger oakleyses said...

wedding dresses, abercrombie, louis vuitton, juicy couture, ugg pas cher, barbour, supra shoes, canada goose outlet, moncler, swarovski, canada goose uk, coach outlet store online, hollister, air max, moncler, canada goose jackets, converse shoes, canada goose, moncler, pandora jewelry, pandora charms, rolex watches, marc jacobs, toms shoes, pandora jewelry, ugg, moncler outlet, barbour, ugg, moncler, montre homme, gucci, swarovski crystal, canada goose, vans, sac lancel, thomas sabo, moncler, karen millen, moncler, ray ban, canada goose, pandora charms, sac louis vuitton, links of london, canada goose, ugg boots, louis vuitton uk, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, louis vuitton, converse, ugg

9:23 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


ทางเข้า sbobet
ทางเข้า m8bet

9:47 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

sbobet mobile
ทางเข้า sbobet

11:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Popular Articles Thanks to information from us.

แทงบอล sbobet

sbobet mobile


4:29 am  
Blogger elkamaal said...

شركة تسليك مجارى بجازان
شركة تسليك مجارى بالاحساء
نفخ المجارى بالاحساء
رقم مصلحة المجارى بالاحساء
تسليك المجارى بالاحساء
مصلحة المياه بالاحساء
شركة تسليك مجارى بالجبيل
تسليك المجارى بالجبيل
شركة تسليك مجارى بالدمام
شركة طيوب للمجاري الدمام
رقم الصرف الصحي بالدمام
شفط الصرف الصحي بالدمام
وايت شفط المجاري الدمام
سيارات شفط المجاري بالدمام
شركة تسليك مجارى براس تنورة
شركة طيوب لتسليك المجارى
شركة تسليك مجارى براس تنورة

6:56 pm  
Blogger abo-bder said...

شركة شحن عفش من الرياض الي الامارات-دبي
شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الى الاردن
شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الى ابو ظبى
شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الى الكويت
شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الى جدة
شركة شحن عفش من مكة الى الامارات
شركة شحن عفش من جدة الى الامارات دبي
شركة شحن اثاث من الدمام الى الامارات دبي

4:03 pm  
Anonymous สมัคร sbobet said...

Sbobet เกมการเดิมพันที่มันความปลอดภัยและมั่นคงทางการเงิน สามารถลงเดิมพันได้ตลอด 24 ชั่วโมง และสมัคร sbobetยังสามารถทำการ ฝาก-ถอน ได้แบบไม่จำเป็นต้องมีขั้นต่ำอีกด้วย

3:07 am  
Blogger thanida said...

Such a nice content. one can also get information from

5:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cette Replique Montre possède un grand nombre de fans fidèles. Ils sont peut-être riches. Mais si certains ne peuvent pas se permettre les prix élevés, ils peuvent choisir notre boutique en ligne. Nous pouvons vous proposer à vous tous d'excellentes fausses montres de grande qualité.

9:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Questo marchio di Rolex Replica possiede un gran numero di fedeli fan. Forse sono ricchi. Ma se alcuni di loro non possono permettersi i prezzi elevati, possono scegliere il nostro negozio online. Siamo in grado di offrire grandi orologi replica falsi di alto livello a tutti voi

10:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

possono scegliere il nostro negozio online. Siamo in grado di offrire

5:13 am  
Blogger boysec said...

Mi piace molto questo articolo. È un buon contenuto Può anche ricevere informazioni da

รีวิว ซีรี่ย์เกาหลี

4:28 am  
Blogger Hedwig said...

Thank you so much.
ดูซีรี่ย์ฝรั่ง netflix
ดูหนังใหม่ 2021

6:26 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home