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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

If You Have A Spare Evening, Spend An Hour And A Half With Henry Miller On An Odyssey


Recently I started reading The Colossus Of Maroussi after it's title came up again in a conversation one evening in reference to Greeks. I had earmarked it to read more than a decade ago but somehow time slipped away. 

When I began reading it I slipped into Miller's world very quickly and with a level of familiarity though he is often very liberal and flowery with his language and at times I feel I ought to have a dictionary loaded on my phone so I can search the meaning of some of the more obscure words he uses. The gist though is a love for Greeks and their culture but with reference to many of the characters that flow in and out of his world as he sails seas between islands and mainland.

I quoted in a recent newsletter one passage that caught my attention and used it to suggest that I thought that passionate people like Miller were often the types that wore neck wear of various modes and I was right. Miller, as I learned from the video below, was the son of a tailor and spent a number of years working the family business. He said that of all the things he took from his time there was an appreciation of good fabric in his hand and a knowledge of the way a suit ought to hang and drape off the human body. And it shows, Miller walks the streets of Paris in some superb ensembles. Even his pyjamas have that certain charm that shows he knows how to be in his element whether at home or out on the street.

He also offers some superb wisdom as the odyssey unfolds and you meet the fellow writers, musicians, painters, psychologists and artists that make up his unique world. It is an old man casting his mind back on the world that he lived and it makes for great television.

In my world there has often been a need to try and create content to sell product which often erodes some of the real beauty and truth that can be told in life. Miller seems to have lead a life which did not hide or conceal his reality and experience of life. It is commendable that someone lives like this, a life spent not having to cover up the ugly bits, cropping out the background, removing those things which you must keep private. He talks openly about suicide, about the lack of affection his mother showed him, his father's drinking, his detestation for war and violence. 

Sometimes when I post content on social media I often think to myself "how will this appear to those that view it" and in fact I was asked today by a company to do some contract work outside my usual hours, to follow guidelines and work towards a 'social strategy'. I wonder how garish someone like Miller might find this new world we occupy.

If you have time, give this documentary a chance. You may fall asleep half way through, but when you re-open your eyes you will learn something new. 


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