Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Manifesto Never Printed because it was Raining (Annotation G3-2/Goddard)

Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer never clams to be a manifesto, nor does he write about the rain. Instead, his pages are filled with Paris, sex, books and anarchy. Loaded in soliloquies of heroes and cunt all in an endless stream of consciousness Miller delivers the hypnotic reveries of an American life between bouts his no future existence in Paris.
Perhaps inspired by the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes which claims there is nothing new under the sun, Miller begins on page one by simply stating: “There are no more books to be written, thank God,” (Miller 1). His self-proclamation that his is indeed an artist, and gratitude of no more books being written is erroneous on page one of a novel, which tops three hundred pages. From page one on, he moves through daily life in Paris as a man with no future, no hopes, and utter happiness. Descriptions of Paris are through the meetings of colleges, friends, benefactors, and whores. However, in the reprieve of situations Miller cannot escape the culture he is from. Miller’s feelings of American and her future on the page happen at odd moments. One such odd moment, Miller and a young Indian find themselves in a brothel. As Miller and the young Indian wait for the women:
As I listen to his tales of America I see how absurd it is to expect of Gandhi that miracle which will deroute the trend of destiny. India’s enemy is not England, but America. India’s enemy is not the hand which cannot be turned back. Nothing will avail to offset this virus which is poisoning the whole world. American is the very incarnation of doom. She will drag the whole world down to the bottomless pit, (Miller 94)

In this developed anti-ideal of America, the young Indian continues to tell Miller of his views of American people. This thought, provocative enough is lost moments later in the arms of whores. Stream of consciousness, or not, the potentially powerful statement of social or political thought is lost as quickly as it develops. The opportunity of getting laid trumps the true revelation into mere observation.
In his thematic examinations of America, Miller is able to see both sides of the American sensibility. Comparing his currently life to an imaginary life in the United States, Miller resumes his stance as no-hoper, penniless, no-future Parisian artist.
I had to travel precisely all around the world to find just such a comfortable, agreeable niche such as this. How could I foreseen, in America, with all those firecrackers they put up your ass to give you pep and courage, that the ideal position for a man of my temperament was to look for orthographic mistakes? Over there you think of nothing but becoming President of the United States some day. Potentially every man is Presidential timber. Here it’s different. Here every man is potentially a zero, (Miller 150).

Again, Miller makes a brilliant observation gone the way of hedonistic tendencies. The only thought remaining from presidential timber in one thought to the cunt in the next, is the ass. In one statement there is a firecracker to give pep and courage, and in the next passage his woman is examining the floor of his apartment for fear of splinters in her ass.
Despite the long passages of sex and the great pains the narrator and his characters endure trying to procure sex; Miller does not have a pornographic novel. The conversations of writing, philosophers, and books can be insulated in a few short pages. Lastly, in the flow of thought, the very nature of the young Henry Miller, American in Paris, is clear: “For a little while I would be able to look around me, to take in the meaning of the landscape,” (Miller 318).

Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer. New York: Grove Press, 1961.  

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