Sunday, December 14, 2003

The other night I brought home the film "Henry and June" - about Henry Miller, Anäis Nin and Henry's wife June. I have long been a fan of Miller's (even though that wasn't terribly popular with several friends who had him down as a misogynist and pornographer, etc).

Somewhere in the 70s, some people ran The Village Bookshop in Piccadilly, with the express intent of publishing EVERYTHING by their favourite authors, of which Miller was one. I got to read some of the treasures, and obscurities.

Being a clown, at the time, I love "The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder"; there was "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird"; his amazing piece on Rimbaud; essays like "Money, and how it gets that way" - just so many wonders which he had a hard time publishing in his life, and which have fallen back out of print, since. So that all you find in our library are the Tropics, and bits of porn. At least, out in the stacks, I found his letters to Anäis Nin, and a biography of her, too - although I am ambivalent about her myself (she may have been his Muse, but she is not mine). He introduced me to Knut Hamsun and Blaise Cendrars, too. If you are curious, check out the Memorial Library @ Big Sur

What I have in common with Miller is the opiniated enthusiasm (I can talk forever on any subject which enthuses me, but am totally dismissive or completely silent, about things I do not consider important or interesting). Arrogance and self-absorption?

He was one of the writers who told me I should "go for it" whatever "it" was - so I did. He warned me I might often be hungry and desperate, that I might have to swallow my pride, accept humiliation and disappointment - that there would be times when I was the only one with any faith in myself. (He was right!)

He also reminded me that that was the only way I was going to have real ecstatic highs (he was right about that, too!)

When I stayed in Paris in 1970, I lived near the Villa Seurat (same metro station, Alésia, in the 14th Arrondisement), and occupied a squatted artist's studio for several months, earning money on the street (selling jewellery) and generally feeling daring and romantic. It was Nelly Gareau who got me there, and gave me the courage, and we travelled for a couple of years after, but I haven't heard from her since. In a Google search the only person of that name/age group I can see is in Kentucky. Could that be her? Ah, it's so hard to tell. I don't pursue old friends any more than I dig back through ancestors. If they emerge again from the world, fine, but I always preferred the serendipitious meeting to the appointment.

And I write in this blog, as he wrote letters to all his friends, because people can only take so much babbling conversation. Does it take away the head of steam that would allow one to write a book? Or is it a necessary preparation and priming of the pump? At least it makes me write a minimum of a few hundred words almost every day....

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