mia loves henry miller
Letter 32 – To Love or Hate Him? Henry Miller, 50 Year Anniversary of Tropic of Cancer
1/29/12 – 2:06 p.m.
Dear Henry Miller,
“I’m not a saint, and probably never will be one. Though it occurs to me, as I make this assertion, that I have been called that more than once, and by individuals whom the court would never suspect capable of holding such an opinion. No, I’m not a saint, thank heavens! Nor even a propagandist of a new order. I am simply a man, a man born to write, who has taken as his theme the story of his life. A man who has made it clear, in the telling, that it was a good life, a rich life, a merry life, despite the ups and downs, despite the barriers and obstacles (many of his own making), despite the handicaps imposed by stupid codes and conventions, Indeed, I hope that I have made more than clear, because whatever I may say about my own life which is only a life, is merely a means of talking about life itself, and what I have tried, desperately sometimes, to make clear is this, that I look upon life as good, good no matter on what terms, that I believe it is we who make it unlivable, we, not the gods, not fate, not circumstances.” –Letter from Henry Miller to Trygve Hirsch
I have been doing some research on the internet regarding stories, blogs, and newspaper columns which have been written about you – especially the recent story published by the New York Times. There’s been some press due to your 50 year anniversary of Tropic of Cancer. Some people love you and some people hate you. Some people love your writing and some people can’t stand it – especially many strong, opinionated, female activists. I must admit, there are some of your books, I really don’t get sucked into, and then there are other books of yours which completely mesmerize me.
What I find so fucked up about critics or journalists trashing you in present time for something you daringly wrote many years ago, is that today, every movie, television show; magazine ad is full of sex or violence. Everyone is pushing the limits, daring to go to the extreme. Everything in our society is so laced with violence and sexuality. I think people need to quit being so judgmental and hypocritical. Sex is an amazing gift. We find it more accepting to show murder and killing and beatings in our media than we do sex. Sexuality is a beautiful thing and people need to quit being so damn uptight about it, as well as hypocritical. We would not be born into this world without smut, sex, passion, love, heat and kink! Our sexuality is a large drama of our lives. Why do we try to hide and deny something that is so natural and good? I don’t see the animal kingdom feeling shame for their acts of procreation. Unless you are harming someone against their will sexually, it should not be looked upon as such a forbidden subject in the 20th century.
I’d like to explain why I love your spirit and your art, as well as your writing. Let me comment on your art first – you paint with the spirit if a free spirited child. The colors are so vibrant, compelling! Your work is so exuberant! I think it brings joy! They are so full of life! Most people only know of you because of your classic, once banned book, Tropic of Cancer. I didn’t fall in love with you or your writing because of that book. I probably fell in love with many things that Anais Nin had discovered in you – your intense passion for life! And your love for people from all different walks of life.
I began reading your Letters to Hoki Tokunda, your fifth wife. I had just watched the movie, Henry and June, and became magnetized to your spirit, as well as Anais. I had already read Anais Nin’s diary, Henry and June which had me more intrigued with you. And then I read the letters you wrote to Hoki. You wrote with such passion, love, and honesty. You disarm me as I read about your thoughts and your life, your experiences, and your wisdom and enlightenment. Your words radiated a life full of energy and zest! I don’t think there was much talk about sex in your letters in that book – just love, romance and heartbreak. I didn’t fall in love with you for all of the delicious, sinful smut you wrote. I fell in love with who you were as a complete person.
“Dear Larry – If I don’t write you this minute I never will. Have been putting it off for weeks, because I had so much to tell you. So much to answer, your letters are marvelous-the only decent messages I get. But my nose is kept to the grindstone receiving unwelcomed visitors, answering stupid bores. You’d think I was the Dalia Lama. I can find no rest, no peace, no hide-out. They track me down like sleuths. All wanting advice or encouragement-sometimes just to touch me. I feel as though I were on exhibition. I ought to be in a cage on permanent view.” –Henry Miller, The Durrell Miller Letters, 1935-1980, Easter Sunday, April 21, 1946
I went on and read more books you wrote, such as your letters to Lawrence Durrell, and your letters to Emile Snellock, Emile White, Alfred Perles, Anais Nin, Brenda Venus, William Fowlace, and so many others. Your graphic sexual content was only a portion of who you were. You had such as full passionate life and you were very complex. Instead of people thinking you are the Devil, they should have considered you a prophet or great philosopher. I know that some of your loyal fans did.
The books which you wrote about sex, and of your hatred of Jews and America, and whatever else you wrote about that pissed people off, was like the icing on the top of the cake – the embellishment – the frill – the fantasy – the titillation – the superficial shell – your emotional drama of life’s ups and downs. The letters you wrote to your friends and loved ones about life, your thoughts, your passion, your writing, is the moist delicious cake – the substance –the sound, yet spongy, pliable inside made from a variety of staple ingredients.
If some of your readers could detach themselves from their own personal judgments, and just read your words for what they were, and accepted the era you lived in, they might not see you as a sexually demented demon. You weren’t the only man in that generation to treat women in a demeaning type of way. It was the way of the generation. I’m grateful that we’ve come a long ways since then. But, it’s not your fault that you lived during the time you did. I also don’t think all your fucking around with whores demonstrates that you are demeaning towards woman. It says to me that you like to experience life and all walks of life.
If you are a passionate artist of any kind, I think that you are a person who is just naturally a more sexually in tune person. Why is so bad to want to share such a pleasurable thing with another person, regardless if you had to pay for them or not? Brothels, escorts, prostitution, bordellos, chicken ranches, and burlesque shows have been around for a very long time. You weren’t the first and only man to adventure inside, enjoy the show or to play awhile. You just chose to tell about your experiences and now you’re considered a pig by many women.
Some think you were a bum for financially living off of many lovers and women, and that is was so awful that June sold her body to support you. First of all, that was your personal path. No one else should give a shit. It was the arrangement you had with June, between you two, and the opinion of others, especially long after you have past on, really can’t change your arrangement. Why bitch about it? If you had lived a normal, conventional live, you would not have left so much of your unique spirit and passionate perspective behind with your written words. You would not have been so intriguing to read.
If women want equality, than why can’t we as women just accept that there are men in this life who were made to play the role of being financially supported by their wives or lovers, and there are woman were born to play the role of being financially supported by their husbands or lovers. And there are husband and wives who keep their financial lives separate and they financially support themselves. Life would be very boring if we all lived life in one so called, “perfect way.”
I’m not trying to make myself into the female counterpart to you, by writing this book. I’m just telling you, in these letters, as truthfully as I can about my passionate life. So, whether or not, people love you or hate you, I think you were brave to live your life as you did and honestly write about it. And I’m grateful that you left behind so much wisdom and passion in your letters and books for me to learn from and be inspired by. I can only hope that my letters to you will make an impact on others like you have, long after I’m gone.
Thank you Henry! I must end this letter.
Much Love, Mia
“Well my dear old friend, here today arrives “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch”, and I’m so absorbed in it that I’ve read nothing else since nine a.m. and it’s now seven p.m.” –Letter to Henry Miller from John Cowper Powys, Thursday, July 11, 1957, Full Moon, Pouring Rain