Some Henry Miller Tidbits

Today I wrote the first two blog posts of my life – one for class and this glorious one. I also just decided I probably shouldn’t even be allowed to write on a blog, based on my frenetic and rambling tendencies…but oh well. It’s happening because I lie in wait for earnest writers-in-need, who apparently do not need my services tonight!

According to a display shelf thingamabob (not even a squiggly red spell-check line beneath that!) in Penrose Library, it is currently Banned Books Week. A little recent web surfing led me serendipitously to author Henry Miller. Miller wrote quasi-autobiographical novels such as Tropic of Cancer and Black Spring, but his works were banned in the U.S. until 1961. In fact, when Grove Press released Tropic of Cancer, the publishing house was charged with pornography and obscenity, and a series of court cases led all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1964, the Grove Press v. Gerstein ruling went in favor of the publisher. Tropic of Cancer was officially deemed “literature” by the highest court in the nation. Huh, I thought. Are those nine individuals qualified to define what is and isn’t literature?

Henry Miller also wrote this marvelous list called 11 Commandments of Writing. I’ll share my two favorites (here’s a link to all eleven: http://kottke.org/12/02/henry-millers-writing-commandments):

7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.

11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Nicely contradictory, aren’t they? Perhaps the seventh is all the more appealing as I am tired and eager for the weekend, but it’s easy to forget to “keep human” when buckled down and writing. If you’re slogging through an assignment right now, Wednesday night at 11:46, take heed! Stay sane, take breaks, and remember to take a moment for yourself. If not now, then later tonight and absolutely tomorrow.

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