Saturday, September 16, 2017

More On Henry Miller's Tropic Of Capricorn


More on Tropic Of Capricorn 

When about 1/3 in Tropic Of Capricorn I noted I had mixed feelings about it for different reasons, some I listed. 

Now I'm about 2/3ds through and I'm all in, the breadth, depth and life of it, an exuberance that reminds me of what I remember of Whitman, is bigger than and takes in the mingy "buts" I first felt bugging me. 

One thing Miller does is write graphically, joyously and vividly about the most amoral, sometimes immoral, scabrous and delightful too, earthy carnal things, all dripping juices and whatnot, ejusdem generis for the whatnot, -:), and then for some of it through crazy flights of wide ranging language and all manner of reference--literary, historical, mythic--he makes cosmological meanings out of them, somewhat in the way Donne in some poems starts from him and his lover on their bed, mind you never in the joyously grubby, vulgar ways Miller does, and then expands outwards creating a world that both moves outward from and pivots on the fulcrum of that bed with lovers on it.  

Always too, Miller's language from the most earthy to the most high blown fits where he's at in his telling.

That's but one thing Miller does. 

Another is to recall with vivid particularly with precise linguistic brush strokes the neighbourhoods he grew up in, the boys he was friends with and the strange, bizarre really, outsiders who weren't part of the gang. 

So many times he brought me back to my own growing up, especially to the working class and middle class streets of the North End of Winnipeg where I lived from 6-13. 

He has one amazing--a word I don't like too often to use--part where he goes into a divine litany of all the subjects he and his friends would discuss away from parents, schools, anyone not them, in uninformed boyish earnestness, all manner of topics, celebrities, athletes, stars, earthly and heavenly, God, hell, girls, sex, school, teachers, gossip, death, life, fights, sports--I literally cannot do his poetic list even a smidgen of  justice. 

And it reminds me of one particular, indelible boyhood memory. We all lived right next to a virtually square block of an untended vacant lot we simply called "the field." The grass and weeds were too thick and wild for playing sports. But I remember one time, there were many others too, four or five of us on a warm spring or summer day just lay in all that unkempt grass likely chewing on a long straw-like piece of grass and just talked in that boyishly holy way Miller gives exact voice to, holy because the talk was the divine Spirit of the divinity of our own tight even insular world creating friendship and bondedness. 

As I say just amazing.

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