Long years ago, when the summer heat beat far less fiercely than it does these punishing days on our bent backs, we discovered Henry Miller.
A wily, dark, amoral character and semi-friend, then doing MBA at a two-bit institute of management on the West Coast (in India) and now living on the West Coast (U.S.), visited us at our hovel one morning and began babbling about Henry Miller, AnaÃ¯s Nin and Miller’s various books including Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
Our appetite whetted, we set off on a Millerian orgy quickly devoring that trilogy Sexus, Nexus and Plexus and other books in a frenzy interrupted only by a stupid Iris Murdoch book (was it Nuns and Soldiers?) borrowed from the British Library.
So today when a sarcastic little desi twit on the SI blog sniggered that we most likely had yet to watch Quentin Tarantino’s Henry & June, we lazily headed to Wiki.
Lo and behold, what should we find. The Henry in Henry & June is none other than our old acquaintance Henry Miller.
Our nostalgian neurons triggered, we made haste to the local library this evening and borrowed Tropic of Capricon and Crazy Cock.
Anon we returned and buried our head into Tropic of Capricorn.
The book affords us as much delight today as it did in that long ago Indian summer.
Here’s an excerpt from Tropic of Capricorn:
I can think of no street in America,Â or of people inhabiting such a street, capable of leading one on toward the discovery of the self.Â I have walked the streets in many countries of the world but nowhere have I felt so degraded and humiliated as in America. I think of all the streets in America combined as forming a huge cesspool, a cesspool of the spirit in which everything is sucked down and drained away to everlasting shit. Over this cesspool the spirit of work weaves magic wand; palaces and factories spring up side by side, and munition plants and chemical works and steel mills and sanatoriums and prisions and instane asylums. The whole continent is a nightmare producing the greatest misery of greatest number. I was one, a single entity in the midst of the greatest jamboree of wealth and happiness (statistical wealth, statistical happiness) but I never met a man who was truly wealthy or truly happy.
what is a two-bit institute?
A safe haven for schmucks.
So today when a sarcastic little desi twit
That’s how the Iyers in our neighborhood looked when they had one too many more-milagai (marinated and dried and fried chillies) with their more-sadam (buttermilk rice).