Jump to content, Jump to navigation.

Amber Paulen

Henry Miller


The Rosy Crucifixion, Book Two

7 October 2007


And if it be asked—“Didst thou enjoy thy stay on earth?“—I shall reply, “My life was one long rosy crucifixion.

Death and transformation. What Henry Miller gives us in Plexus is mostly transfiguration. By transmutation I mean the step before the grave and the one that yanks you back out. Change works in mysterious ways, though the truth be told, death never fails to pre-decess everlasting life. It is as if through the touching of two gears, the what-was and the what will-be-forever-more, one gets crushed between the conjunction of staggering teeth.

The physical substance of this book slips through my fingers like goo. All over the place and all places at once. It is as if Henry and Mona cannot make up their mind. Their Japanese love nest cannot be sustained then it’s all down hill. Money is only the question of how to get it, the prominent filter for their situations. Henry hitchhikes to Florida with a couple of pals only to find that the boom has passed like tropical storms. A speakeasy is begun on the idea of easy money, though soon the debtors come rapping at the door with a long handled stick. The couple sells imported candy door to door. They peddle, with O’Mara, a brief magazine written by Henry himself. Down south again, to North Carolina, where they whittle away their days in stifling heat. I could go on, but I won’t. This is merely the skeleton, the rattling of bones.

Through the novel’s structure Henry’s mind weaves. His drunken zig-zag is nothing more than the eternal question posed multifariously.

The man who has no destination moves in a time and space continuum which is uniquely his own and in which God is always present.

He presents us with his friends in their quirky dissimiltude. It has taken me three readings just to keep them straight. There is always Ulric the steadfast and O’Mara the brave. The scenes of Henry and Ulric being of ultimate gratification. To imagine the intimacy of the two in Ulric’s studio as he paints away at some banana or soup campaign, I feel I am there, spying into their conversation. Ulric unfailingly believes in Henry the writer. This persistence and devotion rises Ulric above all the other names. This from Ulric:

I think what I intended to say is this—you need a larger scope to your life. You need to meet men who are near your own stature. . . I know that a man doesn’t choose the material of life with which to make his art. That’s given, or ordained, by the cast of his temperament.

Ulric warns against, fails to understand and is slightly in awe of Henry’s chaos his chaos spurs Henry on.

Then, there is The Writing.

Suddenly I realized how it had been with the struggle to express myself in writing. I saw back to that period when I had the most intense, exalted visions of words written and spoken, but in fact could only mutter brokenly. Today I see that my steadfast desire was alone responsible for whatever progress of mastery I have made. The reality is always there, and it is preceded by vision. And if one keeps looking steadily the vision crystallizes into fact or deed. There is no escaping it. — The Waters Reglitterized

In Plexus Henry begins to write; efforts thrown like javelins into the smoking chaos. His words are narrowed down only to be thrown again. He kicks up the dust; the goal is always there and the vision too, but Henry’s in the thick of it, he needs to quiet down. Open the eyes and the stir must die down. And when the stir dies down then commences the real music. La, la, la! Do you hear that faintly singing?

We learn all over again that the death process has to do with men-in-life and not with corpses in various stages of decomposition.

Death as ONLY spiritual death. By the end of this book Henry knows his lumbers on the horizon, a marked man who trots to his cross with ease. To suffer deliberately, in order to understand the nature of suffering and abolish it forever, is quite another matter. What Mona promises is more of the same, lies she scatters around herself like seeds, a female friend named Anastasia who undoubtedly will become more. Her deliberate falsifications do not recede with the advancement of their her and Henry’s relationship, for instead of knowing her better, Henry knows her less. After all those years have passed, she is still the liquid which slips through his hands. What frustration! Henry must have been a very tolerant man indeed.

Plexus is a book which works itself as a web. On one end Sexus, brazen and free and on the other end Nexus, decline and demise. Strung within the web are certain dewed crystallizations where the silky satin of one intermeshes totally with the other. It is Plexus which allows us to behold this whole work as one. What has gone before will never be again. The suffering that Henry endured made him the writer he is.

Henry concludes with Spengler. Another incorrigible German whose morphology of history reads like a punctured balloon. To get my head around those weighted phrases takes a sledge hammer to knock the preconceptions out of me. One must read Spengler openly as I am certain Henry did.

In every crucial period of my life I have stumbled upon the very author to sustain me.

and then:

I shall be forced to abandon everything except what those spirits implanted in me.

If I swear my devotion to this man it is for this very reason. Henry Miller is my bread and butter! I gobble him up at every tea!

PostScriptum, 2 links:

  1. Cosmodemonic Telegraph Co.
  2. H.M. walks Paris



Submit a Comment


·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·