Monday, April 10, 2006


The last chapter of Plexus (the second volume of the trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion) by Henry Miller is in fact an essay in praise of Oswald Spengler and his book The Decline of the West.

In it he says, among other things:
The dragon snorting fire and smoke from his nostrils is only expelling his fears. The dragon does not stand guard at the heart of the world--he stands at the entrance to the cave of wisdom. The dragon has reality only in the phantasmal world of superstition.
I remember now...the first time I read Plexus, Miller's enthusiasm for Spengler was so infectious I went to the Lunchbucket Library and took Decline of the West home with it and even made notes, which might, possibly, still be in my filing cabinet. That was so long ago now, and reading Plexus again has renewed my interest. History repeating itself, what?

Funny how we pursue knowledge. Reading Miller led me to Spengler. And also Knut Hamsen. Reading Kerouac convinced me to read Celine, Buddhist writings, Ginsberg and other Beats, Thomas Wolfe. (Reading Thomas Wolfe didn't lead me to anything...) Funny, also, but I'd completely forgotten one point Miller spends a couple pages talking about a book called In Tune With the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine. I'm sitting here at the computer looking at that very book on the shelf above me. That book I read in my New Age period, what I call my "attitude adjustment" phase. Miller had nothing to do with my picking up that book, as far as I know, but I think it's fascinating that it should have been known to him.


Anonymous said...

So what attitude did you adjust?

Anonymous said...

There is more to reading than is revealed on the surface. It's almost as if minds connect over or behind objects. A book being an object. My example is that once a friend handed me Siddharta, and said, "Netty you have to read this. I don't care when it comes back." I put it on my bookshelf and it was there for about two years. At that time I had watched an argument going on, people waylaying opinions in heated fashion. I listened and realized that in reality they agreed, just highlighting aspects from a different place inside themselves. Later that evening my hand reached up to a book in the bookshelf. It was Siddhartha. I looked at it and wanted to read it. I didn't know why. But reading it I learned about same situations highlighted from different view points. Don't ask me now which parts of the book explained that to me. But it did. And I was facinated. And many more times I have reached out for books on impulse and they communicated to me exactly where I was at in my thinking at that particualar time, and would lead me on to more reading and expanded knowledge.

And you know, I don't know if we put our own answers to the writing/reading we do. Do we read more than what is on the page? Is something communicating outside words/books? I do know that much later I have often searched books I had read before and appreciated for certain aspects, and couldn't even find those aspects that had taught me so much.

There is a bit of magic going on. Herman Hesse expressed it with: "You don't choose books, books come to you."

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