follow us in feedly
Henry Miller gives a tour of his bathroom in ‘Asleep and Awake’ 1975
10.09.2014
07:40 am

Topics:
Art
Literature

Tags:
Henry Miller
bathroom

poshmillbath33.jpg
 
This quirky and entertaining little film Henry Miller: Asleep and Awake has the legendary author of Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn and The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy giving a personal tour of the images festooned on the walls of his bathroom. Miller must have spent a lot of time in there to have pasted and pinned all the photographs, posters and mementoes that decorated the walls. He claims his bathroom became so talked about among friends that they would visit not to see him but to view his secret gallery. “People often come in here and get lost, as it were,” Miller explains.

They’re in here for how long? I don’t know, and I imagine something happened that they got constipated or something. But it isn’t that, of course, they get fascinated with these pictures.

I myself, to tell you the truth, spend long minutes in here viewing them all, wondering where did I get them? Why did I put them up there? They run quite a gamut from the Buddhists to the whores to the maniac who made that beautiful castle up there. In a way, again it’s very much like a… it’s a sort of a voyage, I look upon it, a voyage of ideas. We’re traveling not around the world, but around my bathroom which is a little microcosm like the world.

The pictures reflect Miller’s interest in art (Paul Gauguin, Hieronymus Bosch), his favorite writers (Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Blaise Cedrars, Hermann Hesse and a wide selection of beautiful women (including a brief appearance by fourth and final wife Hiroko Tokuda). There’s even a hidden corner for all the pornographic pictures. It’s a place for contemplation as Miller explains, “one of the beauties about it is it can take you anywhere, if you let your mind roam.”

Director Tom Schiller allows Miller to roam and connect the pictures bringing out the occasional nugget of personal information with the author finally relating a dream about escaping from an insane asylum before he returns to that “shithole New York” (or a studio backlot—the set for Hello Dolly) to bring the film to a poignant close.

My whole life seems like one long dream punctuated with nightmares.

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Henry Miller reads from ‘Black Spring’
08.12.2014
07:18 am

Topics:
Books
Literature

Tags:
George Orwell
Henry Miller
Black Spring


 
Not a lot of writers ever attained a badass quotient as high as Henry Miller did in Paris in the 1930s. He was a Whitmanesque American novelist in the international center of high art, writing scandalous books about sex and having plenty of sex with Anaïs Nin. And unlike the works of the “hordes of shrieking poseurs” populating Montparnasse at the time (to quote Orwell from the essay linked below), his books are very good! They remain highly readable to this day, especially Tropic of Cancer. In 1976 Norman Mailer wrote a book about Henry Miller called Genius and Lust, in which he called Tropic of Cancer “one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century, a revolution in consciousness equal to The Sun Also Rises.”
 

 
George Orwell’s extended 1940 essay “Inside the Whale” uses Miller’s works as a prism to make some trenchant observations about the modernist movement as a whole. His remarks on Black Spring are worth quoting here:
 

When I first opened Tropic of Cancer and saw that it was full of unprintable words, my immediate reaction was a refusal to be impressed. Most people’s would be the same, I believe. Nevertheless, after a lapse of time the atmosphere of the book, besides innumerable details, seemed to linger in my memory in a peculiar way. A year later Miller’s second book, Black Spring, was published. By this time Tropic of Cancer was much more vividly present in my mind than it had been when I first read it. My first feeling about Black Spring was that it showed a falling-off, and it is a fact that it has not the same unity as the other book. Yet after another year there were many passages in Black Spring that had also rooted themselves in my memory. Evidently these books are of the sort to leave a flavour behind them—books that “create a world of their own,” as the saying goes. The books that do this are not necessarily good books, they may be good bad books like Raffles or the Sherlock Holmes stories, or perverse and morbid books like Wuthering Heights or The House with the Green Shutters. But now and again there appears a novel which opens up a new world not by revealing what is strange, but by revealing what is familiar. The truly remarkable thing about Ulysses, for instance, is the commonplaceness of its material. Of course there is much more in Ulysses than this, because Joyce is a kind of poet and also an elephantine pedant, but his real achievement has been to get the familiar on to paper. He dared — for it is a matter of daring just as much as of technique — to expose the imbecilities of the inner mind, and in doing so he discovered an America which was under everybody’s nose. Here is a whole world of stuff which you supposed to be of its nature incommunicable, and somebody has managed to communicate it. The effect is to break down, at any rate momentarily, the solitude in which the human being lives. When you read certain passages in Ulysses you feel that Joyce’s mind and your mind are one, that he knows all about you though he has never heard your name, that there some world outside time and space in which you and he are together. And though he does not resemble Joyce in other ways, there is a touch of this quality in Henry Miller. Not everywhere, because his work is very uneven, and sometimes, especially in Black Spring, tends to slide away into more verbiage or into the squashy universe of the surrealists. But read him for five pages, ten pages, and you feel the peculiar relief that comes not so much from understanding as from being understood. “He knows all about me,” you feel; “he wrote this specially for me.” It is as though you could hear a voice speaking to you, a friendly American voice, with no humbug in it, no moral purpose, merely an implicit assumption that we are all alike. For the moment you have got away from the lies and simplifications, the stylized, marionette-like quality of ordinary fiction, even quite good fiction, and are dealing with the recognizable experiences of human beings.

 
Here’s Miller reading from “The Tailor Shop” from Black Spring:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Everything to the extreme’: Be a guest at one of Henry Miller’s dinner parties
07.23.2014
02:04 pm

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Henry Miller


 

“The earth is not a lair, neither is it a prison. The earth is a Paradise, the only one we’ll ever know. We will realize it the moment we open our eyes. We don’t have to make it a Paradise-it is one. We have only to make ourselves fit to inhabit it. The man with the gun, the man with murder in his heart, cannot possibly recognize Paradise even when he is shown it.”

― Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

“We get about as much information about the other peoples of this globe, through the movies and the radio, as the Martians get about us.”

― Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

I think I probably “discovered” Henry Miller from Tom Schiller’s SNL shorts that featured the dry wit of the Tropic of Cancer author and from his role in Warren Beatty’s Reds as one of the “witnesses” who had personally known John Reed and Louise Bryant. Miller’s presence onscreen was remarkable for a man his age and I wanted to know more about him. I was a kid, but I thought he was a very cool motherfucker for an old guy, like his near contemporary in authoring banned books, William S. Burroughs.

By the 1970s, Henry Miller’s work, once very, very difficult to come by in America, was being stocked in regular shopping mall bookstores and could be found on local library shelves, even one in a conservative backwater burg like my hometown of Wheeling, WV, which had most of his books. Frankly, the “erotic” Henry Miller didn’t really interest me all that much. I was more interested to read his opinions on things and events, non fiction essays, in other words, or interviews with him. High on my list of Miller’s writing were “A Nation of Lunatics,” his bicentennial contribution to an anthology titled Four Visions of America and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, his scathing assessment of traveling around America in a car for two years after a decade spent in Europe (Think of it as a mix of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, which it preceded by many years. with Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night.)

When he was 84, Miller began a relationship with a young woman of twenty named Brenda Venus—a future Playboy model and author of several bestselling sex instruction books—from Biloxi, Mississippi. Venus found Miller’s address in a used book she’d purchased and had written to him. Miller was was infatuated by her and wrote her over 1,500 love letters, which were published in 1986 as Dear, Dear Brenda. (Worth noting that Dear, Dear Brenda was staged as a play in Russia a few years back, with Venus played by Olympic gymnast Svetlana Khorkina. According to her Wikipedia page, Brenda was invited to be the guest of Vladimir Putin at the premiere, which was held at the famed Moscow Art Theatre, home of Chekhov.)

Miller was an extremely gregarious man, known for holding court at frequent dinner parties he threw during the final two decades of his life spent in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the video below, you can be a fly on the wall during one of Miller’s dinners. “The Botticelli of Mississippi” is present at the author’s side. The Swiss poet and novelist who Miller is expounding on at length, and calls his “hero,” is Blaise Cendrars, who many considered the heir to Rimbaud. It’s probably a good idea to read the Wikipedia page on him before beginning this video, because he’s the main topic of conversation. Note that the conversation begins with Miller talking about how he’s hoping to win the Nobel prize (for the cash reward!) and where it ends up a half hour later.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A wonderful Henry Miller documentary for your viewing pleasure


 
Robert Snyder’s excellent 1969 documentary The Henry Miller Odyssey takes a joyful look at the Buddha of Brooklyn and his fascinating world.

The colossus of Big Sur at work, living in, and revising old haunts in Brooklyn and Paris. Miller generously reveals how he saw his era, his peers and himself. He recalls his painful youth and his struggle to survive as a writer; talks about art, dreams, and the allure of Paris; reads passages from his works and enjoys himself with friends, including Lawrence Durrell, Anais Nin, Alfred Perles, Brassai, and Jakov Gimpel. What emerges in this insightful documentary is Miller’s charm, his gentleness and his lust for life.

Mostly narrated by Miller, this warm-hearted and playful film captures the essence of a man who did indeed have a lust for life.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Anaïs Nin: Talking about her Diaries, Henry Miller, Muses, Dreams, Art and Death

anais_nin
 
It is always good to have reader feedback on Dangerous Minds and recently Jenny Lens’ interesting comments on Anaïs Nin made me dust off my copies and revisit Nin’s books and diaries. This, of course, led me to check out what is available on YouTube, which uncovered these 4 clips, which appear to have been mainly taken from the documentary Anaïs Nin Observed (1974).

In the first clip, Anaïs explains how her diary started out as a letter to her father, and how it became an “inner journey.” This leads on to Nin reunited with Henry Miller where they discuss the importance of the artist as a liberator.

In the second clip Anaïs discusses art, the artist, and creative anger, concluding that she likes to “feel I have transcended my destiny.”

In the third, Anaïs discusses her favorite heroines, including Lou Andreas-Salomé, the Russian psycho-analyst and author, who was friends with Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Andreas-Salomé was one of the first to write psycho-analytically about female sexuality, long before she met Freud, and was his associate in the creation of psycho-analysis. Nin also talks about Caresse Crosby co-founder of the Black Sun Press, publisher of Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence and Ezra Pound, amongst many others, patron to the Arts, and inventor of the modern bra. Anaïs then goes on to talk about volume 5 of her Diaries and her experiences of taking LSD, and how she turned into gold. The clip cuts out just as Nin discusses not passing judgement on her characters.

In the fourth, Nin and Henry Miller discuss “death in life,” dreams and the importance of recording them, and whether analysis will destroy the need for them.
 

 
More of Anaïs Nin (and Henry Miller), after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Henry Miller, Asleep And Awake’: 1975 documentary
10.13.2010
12:35 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Literature
Thinkers

Tags:
Henry Miller

image
 
Henry Miller, Asleep And Awake is a charming visit with the Buddha of Brooklyn.

Tom Schiller’s 1975 documentary follows Miller from the microcosmos of his very own shit-hole to a mock-up 1890s New York of his childhood—or “that old shit-hole, New York’” (in fact the set for Hello Dolly, with Barbra Streisand & Walter Matthau, 1969). Schiller describes his documentary this way: ‘A guided tour of the pictures and artifacts of his bathroom’ ... though it feels to be very much more than that.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Drinking wine with Henry Miller: a glimpse into the mind of one of life’s great provocateurs
09.17.2010
09:09 pm

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Literature

Tags:
Henry Miller
Dinner with Henry

image
 
Dinner With Henry is exactly what the title suggests. Over a plate of food and glass of wine, the 87 year old Buddha of Brooklyn enthusiastically riffs on his hero Blaise Cendrars, D.H. Lawrence, Rimbaud and the surrealists. Shot by Richard Young and John Chesko in 1979, this “lost’ documentary has recently surfaced and it’s a wonderful peek into the life of one literature’s great provocateurs.

Henry Miller, along with Charles Bukowski, Rimbaud and Richard Brautigan, inspired me to buy a typewriter and attempt the life of a writer. Oh, what I would have done to have had a glass of wine with the great man.

Brenda Venus, the last great love Miller’s life, wrote about the filming of this dinner in her 1986 book Dear, Dear Brenda: The Love Letters of Henry Miller;

Two filmmakers had requested to film Henry speaking freely about wine. When they arrived at Henry’s home, he was in “an ill temper” explains Venus, who guessed that he’d had a bad sleep. When dinner time arrived, Henry was asked to “speak frankly and spontaneously.”  At first, his comments seemed negatively focused on the meal. It’s unclear who prepared the meal, but Henry does not spare anyone’s feelings by calling it “pitiful” and refusing to eat certain things, or complaining about the order of courses. With some coaxing from Brenda, Henry is finally set on track to various personal commentaries. Although he does offer some comparison between French and American wines, he doesn’t offering any real opinion of the wines set before him, which had been the whole point of the film. “I kept encouraging Henry to say something about the various wines he was sipping,” write Venus, “but he pointedly ignored me while regaling the camera with his powers as a raconteur”

 
Henry Miller reads from Black Spring  and is interviewed on French TV after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment