Henry Miller Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 357 quotes)
Still I can't get it out of my mind what a discrepancy there is between ideas and living. A permanent dislocation, though we try to cover the two with a bright awning. And it won't go. Ideas have to be wedded to action; if there is no sex, no vitality in them, there is no action. Ideas cannot exist alone in the vacuum of the mind. Ideas are related to living: liver ideas, kidney ideas, interstitial ideas, etc. If it were only for the sake of an idea Copernicus would have smashed the existent macrocosm and Columbus would have foundered in the Sargasso Sea. The aesthetics of the idea breeds flowerpots and flowerpots you put on the window sill. But if there be no rain or sun of what use putting flowerpots outside the window?
The earth is parched and cracked. Men and women come together like broods of vultures over a stinking carcass, to mate and fly apart again. Vultures who drop from the clouds like heavy stones. Talons and beak, that's what we are! A huge intestinal apparatus with a nose for dead meat. Forward! Forward without pity, without compassion, without love, without forgiveness. Ask no quarter and give none! More battleships, more poison gas, more high explosives! More gonococci! More streptococci! More bombing machines! More and more of it--until the whole fucking works is blown to smithereens, and the earth with it!
Show me a man who over-elaborates and I will show you a great man! What is called their 'overelaboration' is my meat: it is the sign of struggle, it is struggle itself with all the fibers clinging to it, the very aura and ambiance of the discordant spirit. And when you show me a man who expresses himself perfectly I will not say that he is not great, but I will say that I am unattracted . . . I miss the cloying qualities. When I reflect that the task which the artist implicitly sets himself is to overthrow existing values, to make of the chaos about him an order which is his own, to sow strife and ferment so that by the emotional release those who are dead may be restored to life, then it is that I run with joy to the great and imperfect ones, their confusion nourishes me, their stuttering is like divine music to my ears.
What are our conductors giving us year after year? Only fresh corpses. Over these beautifully embalmed sonatas, toccatas, symphonies and operas the public dance the jitterbug. Night and day without let the radio drowns us in a hog-wash of the most nauseating, sentimental ditties. From the churches comes the melancholy dirge of the dead Christ, a music which is no more sacred than a rotten turnip.
And for that one moment of freedom you have to listen to all that love crap... it drive me nuts sometimes... I want to kick them out immediately... I do now and then. But that doesn't keep them away. They like it, in fact. The less you notice them the more they chase after you. There's something perverse about women... they're all masochists at heart.
All my life I have felt a great kinship with the madman and the criminal. Practically all my life I have dwelt in big cities; I am unhappy, uneasy, unless I am in a big city. My feeling for Nature is limited to water, mountain and desert. These three form a trine which is more imperative, for me, than any spiritual alimentation. But in the city I am aware of another element which is beyond all these in power of fascination: the labyrinth. To be lost in a strange city is the greatest joy I know; to become oriented is to lose everything. To me the city is crime personified, insanity personified. I feel at home.
Boris has just given me a summary of his views. He is a weather prophet. The weather will continue bad, he says. There will be more calamities, more death, more despair. Not the slightest indication of a change anywhere. The cancer of time is eating us away. Our heroes have killed themselves, or are killing themselves. The hero, then, is not Time, but Timelessness. We must get in step, a lock step, toward the prison of death. There is no escape. The weather will not change.
Side by side with the human race there runs another race of beings, the inhuman ones, the race of artists who, goaded by unknown impulses, take the lifeless mass of humanity and by the fever and ferment with which they imbue it turn this soggy dough into bread and the bread into wine and the wine into song.