June 22, 2003

"On the Side of Life"


"On the Side of Life"

Today in Literature reminds us that today marks the day in 1964 when "the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that found Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer to be obscene. This was three years after the book's first publication in America, thirty years since its publication in Europe, and a hundred years since Comstock began to patrol the mails for such "vampire literature." Though but one judgment in a series of significant decisions—most importantly, those concerning Ulysses, Lady Chatterley's Lover and Fanny Hill — the Miller ruling is considered landmark for having led the way to the establishment of a new, more liberal standard in censorship."

Reading a book by Henry Miller, from the Tropic books through the Nexus, Sexus, Plexus trilogy has always struck us as the same sort of an experience you get from sitting up all night drinking coffee with a wordly and fascinating friend. As Today in Literature notes, Miller once wrote of one of his books, "If it was not good, it was true; if it was not artistic, it was sincere; if it was in bad taste, it was on the side of life." The same could be said of Henry Miller as well.

"It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!"

"Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy ,and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."

Posted by Van der Leun at June 22, 2003 3:45 PM
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