Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller, My Love/Lust for the Book

The Book which changed the way I think, feel, read, write, live, look, perspire, desire, etc,.

– Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller

What would you say if you start reading a book on a given day, when you are psychologically relaxed and physically retarded. You pick up a book you know nothing about. You know nothing about the writer. Some friend of yours gave you this book. Your friend has not read it either and given it to you, to read it first. And on the very first page you read this: –

“This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. 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 am going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak, I will dance over your dirty corpse…”

(Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller)

So you have started reading a ‘prolonged insult’, ‘a gob of spit in the face of Art’, and without even knowing, now, you are sitting on this fire-spewing dragon, the one whose fire has started burning everything around, the fire has started burning your dirty impurities, your puny insecurities, your hidden less-talked absurdities, your embarrassed peculiarities, this dragon starts talking to you like no one ever did, the heat of his breath is so ridiculously charming that you refuse to get off from it, and dragon’s voice starts giving you a vision, a vision to shun off the mammoth-size trivialities of your insignificant thought-process, your dogma-filled frame of mind, the warmth starts giving wings to all those suppressed thoughts of yours and they start flying like rockets in your violet-sky of a brain, unwanted-offspring-like courage of yours which got evaporated in the past, turns into a big cloud and starts pouring down like an uncontrollable waterfall. And you open your eyes like the way you did for the first time when your parents took you to a Firework show, with thousands of fire-crackers going berserk in the sky and you tried to follow everyone to its extinction.

If you can feel a 0.03 % (or above) of what that feeling is, which I am stupidly trying to express in words, then you know what I am saying. You might say I am exaggerating, but if you read the book, the identity or the intention of the word ‘exaggeration’ would seem as small as a microbe (in terms of this word’s objective). You will get everything in the book and you will get nothing from it, it doesn’t teach you anything and it’s so shameless that the level of shame might convince the whole adult industry’s workers to turn into mystics with thousands of clothes wrapped to their souls with thousands of beads and necklaces dangling on their bruised necks. The book is not just about the Intellectual Bohemia’s documentation of days and survival in some big city with no money and no hope, the book is a message to the random chaotic life which, if you bow down, tries to tame you and if you deal with it with the same amount of serious-madness, it starts respecting you and becomes your slave/lover. Every sentence is a scream in your ears, and this scream never looses its breath. It’s a pilgrimage to the rotten temple of a Chaotic God where God stands in queue with you and forces you to take his place, to take his mantle and metamorphosize you into God and gives you a hammer to destroy the temple, and just with one blow of that hammer you turn those gigantic structures into ruins and you come out of it as another God.

“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?”

(Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller)

You slide through sentences like you are slipping on a floor made of wet ice and then you see yourself sliding and slipping into this unending silvery tunnel made of sparkling bright ice and you choose to get stunned and that’s when you open your eyes the ‘second time’ in your life. He tells you that Dostoevsky was the one who ‘actually’ spoke to him, who ‘actually’ talked to him/his soul, but when he is telling you that, you know that in that moment you are Henry Miller and Henry Miller is Dostoevsky and you see him ‘actually’ talking to your soul, uncensored, un-barred, without any moral or immoral unnatural restriction. It tells you how captivating the life is and what life has to offer to you, not man-made pleasures, but pleasures which have been decided and sanctioned to you by the Nature. Recognition and acknowledgments which you may or may not get from the world, which is perspiring in front of you today, you realize that the puzzle is not worth solving and the recognition of the dementia of your own soul is the only pleasure which makes you smile the way no one (living or dead) ever smiled, a smile that might make the whole world blind with its unchecked brightness. And the book becomes a sword and you become a warrior, metaphorically, metaphysically, rhetorically. Read the book and tell me if you felt the same icy-fire, but beware – it can inflate your conscience and pierce through your mental genitalia as well.

“For some reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured- disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui- in the belief that overnight something will occur, a miracle, which will render life tolerable. And all the while a meter is running inside and there is no hand that can reach in there and shut it off.”

(Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller)



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One thought on “Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller, My Love/Lust for the Book

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