A few quotes from an early Hippie and “difficult person”: Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Quotes from Miller’s famous banned, radical break-out book in his ex-pat down-and-out years in 1930s Paris as the Depression and the World War 2 loomed over an angry Europe and the world; for quite some time Miller was absolutely broke and actually starving in Paris; he finally discovered a clever way of surviving by making a dinner date with employed friends for one day a week on a regular basis. Eventually he found writing and editing jobs to carry him through this extreme, marginal bohemian period.

—“This is not a book in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty… what you will. ”

—“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.”

—“Everybody says sex is obscene. The only true obscenity is war.”

—“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.”

—“I have found God, but he is insufficient.”

—“Do anything, but let it produce joy. Do anything, but let it yield ecstasy.”

—“I’ve lived out my melancholy youth. I don’t give a fuck anymore what’s behind me, or what’s ahead of me. I’m healthy. Incurably healthy. No sorrows, no regrets. No past, no future. The present is enough for me. Day by day. Today!”

—“I’m a bit retarded, like most Americans.”

—“I made up my mind that I would hold onto nothing, that I would expect nothing.”

—“An artist is always alone – if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness.”

—“Paris is like a whore. From a distance she seems ravishing, you can’t wait until you have her in your arms. And five minutes later you feel empty, disgusted with yourself. You feel tricked.”

—“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.”

Tropic of Cancer, available on Amazon at link below:


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