the colossus

Henry Miller's 11 Commandments of Writing and His Daily Creative Routine –  Brain Pickings

I KEEP RETURNING to Henry Miller (1891-1980) whenever I feel all hope is lost, or down in the blues. Whatever the proper phrase is. One cannot call the author of Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Black Spring, The Colossus of Maroussi, and many other books, a hero, though certainly he is a literary hero to some. He was once working a rather dull job at a telecommunications company, or precursor thereof, in Brooklyn in the 1920s, and then left that to move to Paris. He was not successful in his enterprise, at least financially, and became renowned for mooching off friends and lovers for sustenance. And yet, even in that bottom-feeding roll, he was still a survivor. Others of his generation poisoned themselves with worry and drink. They wallowed in their own catastrophes. Not Henry. He looked at a terrible spot, a true catastrophe of life, and decided that he would like to make the catastrophe grander, more spectacular, amazingly horrible. If one is going to fail in life, then why not fail brilliantly? I think I first took note of Miller from his interviews in Reds. I thought: who is that guy? He seems so familiar. He talks just like one of us. He really did. There was something in Miller’s attitude that echoed that of my peers. Maybe it is true that the souls of the dying generation inhabit the bodies of the newly born. So that when we were being birthed into this world sometime in that gray Three Mile Island haze of the lost Carter years, the ghosts of the Great War and the Roaring Twenties were finding new hosts. It’s a thought that gives me comfort, that sort of muscular individualism they developed. No, they were not heroes of any sort. They were bootleggers and loafing slacker writers. Drifters. Scoundrels. Yellow journalists. Playboys. Actresses. Observers. Experiencers. Artists. Survivors.

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