Favorite Quotations #1

Photo Credit to Alex Van

Photo Credit to Alex Van

Today's notable quotable comes from Henry Miller's Sexus, a book enormously important to be as a writer. Of course I grabbed this book off the shelf at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Springdale, Ohio because the word SEX was in bold in front of my face. I flipped the book open and came to read this passage, like it was fate:

"Buildings emptied of their automatons are even more desolate than tombs; when the machines are left idle they create a void deeper than death itself. I was a ghost moving about in a vacuum. To sit down, to stop and light a cigarette, not to sit down, not to smoke, to think, or not to think, breathe, or stop breathing, it was all one and the same. Drop dead and the man behind you walks over you; fire a revolver and another man fires at you; yell and you wake the dead, who, oddly enough have powerful lungs. Traffic is now going East and West; in a minute it will be going North and South. Everything is proceeding blindly according to the rule and nobody is getting anywhere...Eat standing up, with slots, levers, greasy nickels, greasy cellophane, greasy appetite. Wipe your mouth,  belch, pick your teeth, cock your hat, tramp, slide, stagger, whistle, blow your brains out. In the next life, I will be a vulture feeding on rich carrion: I will perch on top of the tall buildings and dive like a shot the moment I smell death." --Henry Miller, "Sexus"--

I had never known freedom in writing before I read this passage. I was a strict formal writer - copying what I knew narratively from Stephen King and what I knew prosaicly from Joseph Campbell, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking.  The main character, a romanticized version of Henry Miller is a man in the middle of a crisis in the middle of his life, like Dante when we find him at the beginning of The Divine Comedy. This is a pivotal moment of his spiritual awakening and so it became a hinge of mine as well. This was the moment that the main character saw the machine for the sham it was and made another choice, to fall into passion and revolution with the young Mara (a romanticized version of Anais NIn from my understanding). This book is still one of my go-tos when I want to read both fiction and poetry together.