Posted by: Gregoryno6 | August 24, 2011

Henry Miller and the Saturn Rant.

There is a pile – several piles actually – of books in my library. They are the to-be-reads, and they have never numbered less than forty in the last ten (maybe fifteen) years.

I do try to trim them down. And my last trip to Melbourne didn’t reap a couple of dozen additional titles as previous trips have done. Hope lives.

THE COLOSSUS OF MAROUSSI has been waiting its turn for five years at least. I have an idea that I tried reading something else by Henry Miller a long time ago – it may have been called The Book of Friends. At any rate I gave up on it. Colossus, however, has got my attention. I’ve read a lot of Charles Bukowski in the meantime – Bukowski himself read Miller and was in part influenced by him. But not even Bukowski ever quite climbed to the heights of deranged full-tilt babble that Henry Miller achieved in his passage about Saturn.

I really hate to quote this sentence in its completeness. It’s almost half the entire item.

Saturn is a living symbol of gloom, morbidity, disaster, fatality. Its milk-white hue inevitably arouses associations with tripe, dead gray matter, vulnerable organs hidden from sight, loathsome diseases, test tubes, laboratory specimens, catarrh, rheum, ectoplasm, melancholy shades, morbid phenomena, incuba and succuba, war, sterility, anæmia, indecision, defeatism, constipation, antitoxins, feeble novels, hernia, meningitis, dead-letter laws, red tape, working class conditions, sweat shops, YMCA’s, Christian Endeavor meetings, spiritist seances, poets like T. S. Eliot, zealots like Alexander Dowie, healers like Mary Baker Eddy, statesmen like Chamberlain, trivial fatalities like slipping on a banana peel and cracking one’s skull, dreaming of better days and getting wedged between two motor trucks, drowning in one’s own bathtub, killing one’s best friend accidentally, dying of hiccoughs instead of on the battlefield, and so on ad infinitum.

He left out getting a parking ticket while attending your mother’s funeral, but apart from that…

The Saturn Rant in its fullness can be read and enjoyed here. It is so laden with despair and fatality that I couldn’t stop laughing. Was Henry Miller serious when he wrote this? I think he must have sat down at the typewriter after one or two ouzos and just like a Warner Brothers cartoon snowball he started rolling. Before he knew it, he had the full avalanche.


Responses

  1. Hi,
    Sounds interesting, I may have a look at it and see if it is something I may like to read.

  2. Henry Miller was banned for years in Australia – back in the days when we banned books. Heavy sexual content. We’d turn it into a miniseries today.
    Colossus doesn’t have much sex in it. It’s a travelogue, a recollection of Miller’s journeys around Greece in 1939. He airs his anti-Americanism regularly but it’s still an interesting read.

    • That passage alone has caught my attention. I don’t know from Henry Miller. Didn’t he write The Crucible? Have I recently said somewhere else that I could probably just as easily look it up myself, but sometimes-like now-pure laziness takes over?

      • You’re thinking of Arthur Miller, the playwright who married James Monroe. Wait, that can’t be right.

        • LMAO. While true, it can’t be left either, ’tis to funny.

          • No point knowing the odd speck of history if you can’t use it to show off now and then.

            • This is why, while watching “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum” tonight, I announced to the goldfish that the hairstyle on Domina was from the Flavian era. That’s just sad. At least your odd speck of history was funny.

            • I’m sure your line was very funny to your goldfish. And fifteen seconds later it would have been just as funny all over again.


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