Sunday, July 16, 2006

Miller's "pell-mell"

The brilliance of simplicity, mixed with a rouge of soil, and a double helping of futile atmosphere: Miller's Tropic of Cancer. I'm reading it for the first time, and boy is it glorious. Not just the content (which sometimes I could do, but not entirely, with a little lessening... but then you wouldn't get gems like "I will bite into your clitoris and spit out two franc pieces"), but the vigour and precision with which he defecates lovingly on and into words--blows me away. He wrote as freely and as emptily as he had need to.

Couple passages, then:

"I have made a silent compact with myself not to change a line of what I write. I am not interested in perfecting my thoughts, nor my actions. Beside the perfection of Turgenev I put the perfection of Dostoevski. (Is there anything more perfect than The Eternal Husband?) Here, then, in one and the same medium, we have two kinds of perfection. But in Van Gogh's letters there is a perfection beyond either of these. It is the triumph of the individual over art.

There is only one thing which interests me vitally now, and that is the recording of all that which is omitted in books. Nobody, as far as I can see, is making use of those elements in the air which give direction and motivation to our lives... Passion is quickly exhausted. Men fall back on ideas, comme d'habitude. Nothing is proposed that can last more than twenty-four hours. We are living a million lives in the space of a generation. In the study of entomology, or of deep sea life, or cellular activity, we derive more...

The telephone interrupts this thought which I should never have been able to complete."

I love the realism, or, the instantaneous deliberations--his "silent compact with myself not to change a line of what I write". Great.


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