synthetic zero

January 23rd, 2009

Henry Miller’s writing always seems balanced between the twin chasms of the profane and of grace.  But however he may have appeared, he was, in fact, simply a master. From Sexus:

To be sick, to be neurotic, if you like, is to ask for guarantees. The neurotic is the flounder that lies on the bed of the river, securely settled in the mud, waiting to be speared. For him death is the only certainty, and the dread of that grim certainty immobilizes him in a living death far more horrible than the one he imagines but knows nothing about.

The way of life is towards fulfillment, however, wherever it may lead. To restore a human being to the current of life means not only to impart self-confidence but also an abiding faith in the processes of life. A man who has confidence in himself must have confidence in others, confidence in the fitness and Tightness of the universe. When a man is thus anchored he ceases to worry about the fitness of things, about the behavior of his fellow-men, about right and wrong and justice and injustice. If his roots are in the current of life he will float on the surface like a lotus and he will blossom and give forth fruit. He will draw his nourishment from above and below; he will send his roots down deeper and deeper, fearing neither the depths nor the heights. The life that’s in him will manifest itself in growth, and growth is an endless, eternal process. He will not be afraid of withering, because decay and death are part of growth. As a seed he began and as a seed he will return. Beginnings and endings are only partial steps in the eternal process. The process is everything… the way… the Tao.

The way of life! A grand expression. Like saying Truth. There is nothing beyond it… it is all.

…. For every height that is gained new and more baffling dangers menace us. The coward is often buried beneath the very wall against which he huddled in fear and anguish. The finest coat of mail can be penetrated by a skillful thrust. The greatest armadas are eventually sunk; Maginot lines are always circumvented. The Trojan horse is always waiting to be trotted out. Where then does security lie? What protection can you invent that has not already been thought of? It is hopeless to think of security; there is none. The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.

In the insect world is where we see the defense system par excellence. In the gregarious life of the animal world we see another kind of defense system. By comparison the human being seems a helpless creature. In the sense that he lives a more exposed life he is. But this ability to expose himself to every risk is precisely his strength. A god would have no recognizable defenses whatever. He would be one with life, moving in all dimensions freely.

Fear, hydra-headed fear, which is rampant in all of us, is a hang-over from lower forms of life. We are straddling two worlds, the one from which we have emerged and the one towards which we are heading. That is the deepest meaning of the word human, that we are a link, a bridge, a promise.

… For some it is a terrifying prospect. It would be better, think they, if Heaven were above and Hell below— anywhere outside, but not within. But that comfort has been knocked from under us. There are no places to go to, either for reward or punishment. The place is always here and now, in your own person and according to your own fancy…. You are the author, director and actor all in one: the drama is always going to be your own life, not some one else’s. A beautiful, terrible, ineluctable drama, like a suit made of your own skin. Would you want it otherwise? Could you invent a better drama?

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one response to this post:
  1. daniel lebel says:

    I am absolutely stunned. I read this book when I was eighteen, that is thirty five years ago, read everything he wrote. I must have read that too. At the time, it was the parts that had sex in them that led me.
    And now, the all.

    March 20th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

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