Bonjour Coco
Friday, July 23, 2010
  "I do not want to be a 'literateur'"
I'm reading Henry Miller: The Paris Years.  I was walking through Soho and there's that book table that's always propped in front of the Startbucks on the corner of West Broadway and Houston.  The book was calling my name... it might be because the man on the cover looked like my dad (Miller).  But also because I've always wanted to know more about Miller... and I've recently become a bit curious about what this whole deal is with everyone loving Paris so much.  So I figured that hearing his personal experience in Paris would teach me how to appreciate it more.

It's true, it has been doing just that.  In this book he even tells you what streets you must walk down, and at what time of day, and he says you should do it sober, drunk, in sunlight and at night, rain, smog... all those things.  He also drew a map with numbers all over it corresponding to various illuminating experiences he had there.  He says that there is not a block in Paris that he could not connect to an illuminating experience he had there.

I've been writing down a lot of excerpts, as I do (I pretty much reproduce entire books in note form... maybe because i think it will stay with me and sink in better that way).  My favorite one so far is about how he wants to not get smarter but stupider.  That was my big revelation last year and I've been really sticking with that philosophy, to great joy as a result.

"...What have I gained from the enlargement of my knowledge, the enrichment of my culture.  Nothing.  I've lost more.  Do you know why I called my first book Tropic of Cancer?  It was because to me cancer symbolizes the disease of civilization, the endpoint of the wrong path, the necessity to change course radically, to start completely over from scratch... Yes, from scratch, no question about it, for better or for worse... What I want is to halt evolution, to go backward down the path we have taken, to back to the world before childhood, to regress, regress, regress, further and further, until we get to the place we have only lately left behind, where culture and civilization do not figure... It is time that we start to think, to feel, to see the universe in a way that is uncultivated, primitive - but this is also without doubt the most difficult thing in the world to do."

I've been telling all of my friends that since opening my store I'd been getting younger, reviewing back through all of the years of my life, narcissistic childhood archeology if you will.  Last October I was about 8 years old because I could see a lot of my creative instincts were coming from memories and things I liked at that age.

Around April I was about age 5.  I had this revelation when I was on a road trip and we stopped at a Wal-mart, and for some reason I got absurdly excited about the sippy cups with the princesses on them.  I was also looking at the plastic plates and bowls for little kids and was so amazed at how decorated they all were... in fun little shapes (shaped like animals, etc)... and I couldn't believe that 5 years olds were getting this privilege of eating from these amazing things, but as an adult I had pretty much been limited to a white ceramic plate and silver fork.   Long story short, I realized I'm getting younger.

So now that it's July, I am at zero.  I think that's about accurate because I have had a very empty mind, which is why I've taken to reading, to fill it up again with new ideas.  I've also been reading a book about the art of Zen, which is all about no-thought and no-mind... which a zero year old would be very good at, naturally... so I've been quite good at understanding this whole concept and it's been very natural for me.

So now I have this desire to be in Paris... to wander the streets all day long, everyday, and just observe everything intensely and take lots of pictures.  Maybe I will do that... I'll be about 1 year old by the time I make it there... maybe 2 years old.  They say kids pick up languages a lot easier than adults, so maybe this time around, I'll actually have a chance at being bilingual! Ha.

Is Miller advocating primitivism? Or just saying we should look at things differently--have a child's sense of curiosity and excitement?
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