Henry Miller

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Henry Valentine Miller (26 December 1891 - 7 June 1980) American writer



  • 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.
    • Tropic of Cancer (1934)
  • We’re creators by permission, by grace as it were. No one creates alone, of and by himself. An artist is an instrument
that registers something already existent, something which belongs to the whole world,
and which, if he is an artist, he is compelled to give back to the world.
    • The Rosy Crucifixion I : Sexus (1949)
  • A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing is to inoculate the world with a virus of his disillusionment. No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in....
    • The Rosy Crucifixion I : Sexus (1949)
  • Many is the mirage I chased. Always I was overreaching myself. The oftener I touched reality, the harder I bounced back to the world of illusion, which is the name for everyday life. 'Experience! More experience!' I clamored. In a frantic effort to arrive at some kind of order, some tentative working program, I would sit down quietly now and then and spend long, long hours mapping out a plan of procedure. Plans, such as architects and engineers sweat over, were never my forte. But I could always visualize my dreams in a cosmogonic pattern. Though I could never formulate a plot I could balance and weigh opposing forces, characters, situations, events, distribute them in a sort of heavenly lay-out, always with plenty of space between, always with the certitude that there is no end, only worlds within worlds ad infinitum, and that wherever one left off one had created a world, a world finite, total, complete.
    • The Rosy Crucifixion II : Plexus (1953)

Henry Miller on Writing (1964)

  • Things happen or they don't happen , thats all. Nothing is accomplished by sweat and struggle. Nearly everything which we call life is just Insomnia , and agony because we've lost the habit of falling asleep.
  • I blush to think of our origins - our hands are steeped in Blood & Crime. And there is no letup to the slaughter and pillage.
  • The frantic desire to Live, to live at any cost, is not a result of the life rhythm in us , but of the death rhythm.
  • To be generous is to say yes before the man even opens his mouth.
  • I soon learned that one must give up everything and not do anything else but write, that one must write write write.
  • Every man is working out his destiny in his own way and nobody can be of any help except by being kind, generous, and patient.
  • The truly great writer does not want to write. He wants the world to be a place in which he can live the life of the imagination.
  • Writing is Crude hieroglyphs chiseled in pain & sorrow to commemorate an event which is intransmissible.
  • The Happiest peoples, it is said, are those which have no history. Those who have a history, those who have made history seem only to have emphazied through their acomplishments the eternality of struggle. These disappear too eventually, just as those who made no effort, who were content to merely live & enjoy.
  • The Battle is endless...we who babble and froth at the mouth have been at it since eternity.
  • Perhaps the artist is nothing more than the personification of this universal maladjustment, this universal disequilibrium.
  • The whole damn universe has to be taken apart, brick by brick, and reconstructed.
  • I am against revolutions because they always involve a return to the status quo.
  • I am glad to be a maggot in the corpse which is the world.
  • Everything remains unsettled forever, depend on it.
  • The artist who becomes thoroughly aware consequently ceases to be one.
  • The trouble with Buddhism ?-- in order to free oneself of all desire, one has to desire to do so.


  • Every man has his own destiny: The only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.
  • I see America spreading disaster. I see America as a black curse upon the world.
  • More obscene than anything is inertia.
  • No matter how vast, how total, the failure of man here on earth, the work of man will be resumed elsewhere. War leaders talk of resuming operations on this front and that, but man's front embraces the whole universe.
  • Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation- the other eight are unimportant.
  • So I was at liberty, let us say, to write something about Coney Island in winter. If they liked it it would appear in print, my name would be signed to it, and I could show it to my friends, carry it about with me, put it under my pillow at night, read it surreptitiously, over and over, because the first time you see yourself in print you're beside yourself, you've at last proved to the world that you really are a writer, and you must prove it to the world, at least once in your life, or you will go mad from believing it all by yourself. And so to Coney Island on a wintry day. Alone, of course. It wouldn't do to have one's reflections and observations diverted by a trivial-minded friend. A new pad in my pocket and a sharp pencil.
  • The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.
  • The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.
  • The real leader has no need to lead - he is content to point the way.
  • Through art then, one finally establishes contact with reality: that is the great discovery. Here all is play and invention; there is no solid foothold from which to launch the projectiles which will pierce the miasma of folly, ignorance and greed. The world has not to be put in order: the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order, to know what is the world order in contradistinction to the wishful-thinking orders which we seek to impose on one another. The power which we long to possess, in order to establish the good, the true and the beautiful, would prove to be, if we could have it, but the means of destroying one another. It is fortunate that we are powerless.
  • To enter life by way of vagina is as good a way as any
  • We are dancing in the hollow of the cup of nothingness. We are of one flesh, but separated like stars.

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