5. Anecdote v. Image
Anecdote v. Image - Notes
1 First Epigraph: T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922); in T. S. Eliot: The Complete Poems and Plays 1909-1950 (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1952). Second Epigraph: James Joyce, Ulysses (Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922; New York: Random House-Modern Library, "New Edition, Corrected and Reset," 1961), 60, 61. Third Epigraph: Henry Miller, "The Fourteenth Ward," in Black Spring (Paris: The Obelisk Press, 1938; New York: Grove Press, 1963), 10. Fourth Epigraph: Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, trans. George Weidenfield and Nicolson Ltd. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1966), 21n. Originally published as La Pensée sauvage (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1962).
2 There were, of course, many other examples of bricolage present to Miller in Paris in the 1930s, most notably in painting, Dadaist collage and Cubism. But there can be no end to these "other examples" that might be said to authorize Miller's imitation, for where every use of signs may be characterized as bricolage, to say "author" is to say "bricoleur." If one sets out to trace a historical discourse through analogue and imitation, both "history" and "discourse" lose their circumstantial specificity, dissolving into "Man" and "language." Eliot and Joyce stand out as the bricoleurs who authorized Miller's rivalry.
3 Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin, Clichy (January 17, 1933), in Henry Miller: Letters to Anaïs Nin, ed. Gunther Stuhlmann (1965; New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons-Capricorn Books, 1976), 72.
4 From a mere examination of the texts, one might well argue that the fundamental compositional unit of Ulysses and particularly The Waste Land is not the image, but the anecdote. Conversely, Miller's images have been made the center of textual analysis. But as I have noted previously, the text, per se, cannot exist as an object of a historical analysis that sets out to explain how "texts" have been variously constituted and reconstituted within a disputatious literary discourse, at once practical and critical. It is within this discourse that image is fundamental to Eliot and Joyce's successful effort to reshape twentieth-century aesthetics, and anecdote fundamental to Miller's resistance.
5 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer (Paris: The Obelisk Press, 1934; New York: Grove Press, 1961; New York: Ballantine Books, 1973), 1.
6 Miller signed the first complete typescript of Tropic of Cancer, "Henry Miller, Pseudonym"; then rewrote the title page, "'Tropic of Cancer' by Anonymous," in the spirit of Michael Fraenkel's manifesto, Anonymous: The Need for Anonymity (Paris: Carrefour Press, 1930). See Jay Martin, Always Merry and Bright: The Life of Henry Miller (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Capra Press, 1978; New York: Penguin Books, 1980), 264. Within the published text, Miller is named only indirectly by a question he does not answer: "Hello! Are you Henry Miller?" (Tropic of Cancer, 99). This evasion is not, as in Fraenkel's case, a cultivation of the empty self, but an assertion of a self too dispersed in narrative to be identified.
7 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 1.
8 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 1.
9 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 1-2.
10 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 2.
11 William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850), "Book XII Imagination," ll. 208-215. Miller's "spots of time" are a celebration of the City Wordsworth deplores, and one can hear Tropic of Cancer's opening description of the "world dissolving" echoing other sections of The Prelude, particularly "Book VII Residence in London":
Oh, blank confusion! true epitome
Of what the mighty City is herself
To thousands upon thousands of her sons,
Living amid the same perpetual whirl
Of trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences
That have no law, no meaning, and no end--
It is Wordsworth's visionary recovery, which is also Stuart Gilbert's reading of Ulysses, that Miller disputes:
By nature an unmanageable sight,
It is not wholly so to him who looks
In steadiness, who hath among the least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
12 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 11.
13 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 2.
14 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 3.
15 Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's 'Ulysses': A Study by Stuart Gilbert (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930; New York: Random House-Vintage Books, 1955), 25.
16 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, footnote to line 218.
17 Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930 (1931; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969), 210. Wilson explicitly contrasts Joyce's globalism with narrative: "he is symphonic rather than narrative" (209). Axel's Castle serves as a point of departure for Miller throughout Tropic of Cancer: the opening distinction between "Time" and the "cancer of time" is taken from this passage, which Miller treats again and at length in "The Universe of Death, from 'The World of Lawrence,'" in The Cosmological Eye (1939; New York: New Directions Paperbook, 1961). The Cosmological Eye contains a number of essays originally published in Max and the White Phagocytes (Paris: The Obelisk Press-Seurat Editions, 1938). The 1961 paperbook reprint appends one essay, "The Cosmological Eye," not included in the 1939 hardbound edition.
18 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 1.
19 Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's 'Ulysses', 25:
Moreover, following Nature's method, Joyce depicts only the present time and place of the times and places that are passing, a rapid flux of images. [....] It is for the reader to assemble the fragments and join the images into a band.
20 "Mademoiselle Claude" is reprinted in Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart (1941; New York: New Directions, 1960).
21 Henry Miller to Samuel Putnam, (October 1932), quoted in Jay Martin, Always Merry and Bright, 263, 264n.
22 That "Mademoiselle Claude" was later reprinted in The Wisdom of the Heart suggests Miller's relatively unscrupulous desire to make his early work pay--he resolved at one point to force "Crazy Cock" (Manuscript written in Paris, 1930; "Crazy Cock MS," University of Texas Library; "Crazy Cock MS. II" [corrected carbon copy], Henry Miller Collection, Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.) upon any American publisher who belatedly recognized the achievement of Tropic of Cancer--but also the extent to which Miller's post-war American career represented another repudiation of his previous efforts, this time of his modernism. Miller's final "self-transformation" is treated in Part III, below.
23 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 34.
24 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 38.
25 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 39.
26 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 40.
27 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 41, 42.
28 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 43. In the process of explaining--redeeming--Stephen and Bloom's visit to the brothel, Gilbert stretches Blake:
"Brothels are built with the bricks of religion." Blake's paradox may afford some explanation of the curious fact that Dublin, the great Catholic city of northern Europe, should have had a recognized "redlight quarter." [....] The episode of Circe is, in fact, "built with the bricks of religion."
(Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's 'Ulysses', 315-316, 316.)
There is nothing curious, in fact, about this paradox, which preserves the object status of women whether taken to cast down religious rectitude, or sanctify prostitution.
29 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 35.
30 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 35.
31 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 45.
32 Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself," sc. 33, in Leaves of Grass (edition of 1891-92).
33 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 35.
34 Henry Miller, "The Universe of Death, from 'The World of Lawrence,'" in The Cosmological Eye, 129. This, Miller's "brochure" on Lawrence, was written contemporaneously with Tropic of Cancer's many revisions.
35 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 35.
36 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 35-36. That Dufy's distinctive sketch style cannot be classed easily with any major art movement is not essential to Miller's objection, which pertains not to the work, but to its interpretation--"The philosophy, mind you!"
37 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 51.
38 Georges Duthuit, "Où allez-vous Miro?" Cahiers d'Art (Paris, 1936), XI, 8-10, 261; translated in Joan Miró by James Johnston Sweeney (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1941); quoted here from Herschel B. Chipp, Theories of Modern Art, A Source Book by Artists and Critics (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1968), 431.
39 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 36.
40 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 53.
41 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 147. Matisse is barely recognizable in Miller's several page tribute. The qualities Miller praises are, like the movement past the paintings, Miller's own.
42 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 37-38, 38.
43 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 38.
44 Henry Miller, "The Universe of Death, from 'The World of Lawrence,'" in The Cosmological Eye, 113.
45 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 40.
46 T. S. Eliot, "'Ulysses,' Order, and Myth," The Dial (November 1923); reprinted in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, ed. Frank Kermode (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and Farrar, Straus and Giroux--A Harvest/Noonday Book, 1975), 177.
47 This has not prevented Miller's (New) critical partisans from attempting to transmute the dross of Germaine into psychological gold. Leon Lewis, in Henry Miller, The Major Writings (New York: Schocken Books, 1986), employs the full panoply of New Critical techniques to rescue the Germaine episode from Kate Millet's undeniable characterization of Germaine as "the archetypal French prostitute of American tourism" (Lewis, 85) and Miller as a cataloger of the contradictory "anxiety and contempt" with which male culture approaches women. Lewis' "close look" at the Germaine episode discovers an unreliable narrator, an "artist/hero" split between "what Charles Feidelson called the 'symbol-making intelligence' of the human consciousness" (Lewis, 97) and "someone who has been temporarily warped by the accumulated pressures of living 'down and out' in an urban wasteland" (Lewis, 89). The Eliotic tragedy to which Miller lends voice according to Lewis, who throws in a gratuitous reference to Hamlet for good measure, is that man is so cut in slices, "so completely occupied with the tasks of finding food, lodging, good company that he cannot see any larger picture of things." "Here, then, is a picture of a man in an ugly world who is a little desperate and very hungry" (Lewis, 86, 87; emphasis added). Picturing and pictured in his inability to picture, there is nothing left of Miller the narrator--unreliable or otherwise--by the time Lewis has finished rescuing him from his critics.
48 The stories of Germaine and Claude appear to be no more than fodder for even the least sophisticated critique of male ideology; meanwhile Joyce, relatively undisturbed, turns Molly Bloom in her bed. Ideologically, Molly, as great whoring Earth Mother, is really no more than a symbolic synthesis of Claude and Germaine. The difference lies in the aesthetic value ascribed to Joyce's technique. One tends to overlook the ideological content of Molly's "stream of consciousness" because Joyce lends the full force of New Critical modernism to a "female voice." But, surely, this is little more than putting very traditional male conceptions of "Woman" on a pedestal--an aesthetic pedestal.
49 Such are the effects of a literary history within which the hegemony of New Critical modernism has placed narrative strategies of all kinds outside the highest circle of value, making realist and naturalist narrative, as well as Miller's narrative modernism, mere guests in a Joycean house of fiction. To reread a work like Tropic of Cancer as narrative is to encounter a historical Miller most cannily at home in the debates of the 1920s and 1930s.
50 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 44.
51 Eugene Jolas, et. al., "Poetry is Vertical," transition 21 (1932): 148-149. Reprinted in Dougald McMillan, transition: The History of a Literary Era, 1927-1938 (New York: George Braziller, 1976), 66. McMillan concludes that Eugene Jolas was the primary author: the signatories were Hans Arp, Samuel Beckett, Carl Einstein, Eugene Jolas, Thomas McGreevy, Georges Pelorson, Theo Rutra [pseud. Eugene Jolas], James J. Sweeney, and Ronald Symond.
Literary acts of representation and interpretation are necessarily "sloppier"--we might congratulate ourselves with, "richer"--affairs than mathematics: in technique and substance Tropic of Cancer, The Waste Land, and Ulysses "overlap" to a great extent. But aesthetic rivalry necessarily proceeds through overdrawn distinctions.
52 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, ll. 60-69.
53 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, ll. 69-75.
54 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, ll. 19-20.
55 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 34-35.
56 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, ll. 215-216.
57 "The good old days," "la belle époque," refer to the thirty years spanning the turn of the century when the "banquet" and the cafe replaced the salon as the institutional gathering place of Parisian artists. See Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I; Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, Erik Satie, Guillaume Apollinaire (1955; New York: Random House-Vintage Books, 1968).
58 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 35.
59 Eugene Jolas, et. al., "The Revolution of the Word Proclamation," transition 16/17 (1929): 1. Reprinted in Dougald McMillan, transition: The History of a Literary Era, 1927-1938 (New York: George Braziller, 1976), 49. McMillan concludes that Eugene Jolas was the author: the signatories were Kay Boyle, Whit Burnett, Hart Crane, Caresse Crosby, Harry Crosby, Martha Foley, Stuart Gilbert, A. L. Gillespie, Leigh Hoffman, Eugene Jolas, Elliot Paul, Douglas Rigby, Theo Rutra [pseud. Eugene Jolas], Robert Saga, Harold J. Salemson, and Laurence Vail.
60 James Joyce, Ulysses, 59.
61 James Joyce, Ulysses, 60.
62 James Joyce, Ulysses, 60.
63 James Joyce, Ulysses, 60, 60, 61.
64 See Jacques Derrida, "The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to Hegel's Semiology," in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bates (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 69-108. Derrida discusses what Hegel called the "'double architecture, one above ground, the other subterranean'" of the Pyramids--"'The simple prototype of symbolical art'" (85). Derrida argues that this spatial image of the sign--even the sign of "time," is doubled through "temporization":
This activity, which consists in animating the intuitive (spatial and temporal) content, of breathing a "soul," a "signification," into it, produces the sign by Erinnerung--memory and interiorization. We will now examine this relationship between a certain movement of idealizing interiorization and the process of temporalization. In the production of signs, memory and imagination (that is, time, in this context) are the same interiorization of the spirit relating itself to itself in the pure intuition of itself, and therefore in its freedom, and bringing this intuition of itself to exterior existence.
(Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, 87.)
Without "deciding" the issue, Derrida, in effect, traces/maps the sequence/ground contested by the aesthetics of Miller's narrative modernism and New Critical modernism.
65 Henry Miller, Black Spring (Paris: The Obelisk Press, 1938; New York: Grove Press, 1963), 63-64.
66 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 13. This passage was discussed in the second chapter.
67 Henry Miller, Black Spring, 78.
68 Henry Miller, Black Spring, 59.
69 James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: The Viking Press, 1964; New York: Penguin Books, 1976), 253. Originally published by B. W. Huebusch in 1916. The Viking/Penguin text is corrected from the Dublin holograph.
70 One cannot repeat often enough that it is the fact that New Critical interpretation takes up these potentially synecdochic images that makes the deployment of these images "characteristic" of canonical modernism, and even "characteristic" of Ulysses where Joyce might well be said to deploy repeated phrases and narrative fragments in a manner similar to Stein and Miller.
71 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 258. The full passage refers specifically to the women of Tropic of Cancer, but it is equally appropriate to Miller's general narrative technique:
Going back in a flash over all the women I've known. It's like a chain I have forged out of my own misery. Each one bound to the other. A fear of living separate, of staying born. The door of the womb always on the latch. Dread and longing. Deep in the blood the pull of paradise. The beyond. Always the beyond.
This passage, which, as it continues, culminates in a rejection of synoptic vision, is Miller's reworking Freud's explanation of character formation, under the influence of Rank's theory of the birth trauma. It is, specifically, a passage from The Ego and the Id that Miller reworks:
When it happens that a person has to give up a sexual object, there quite often ensues an alteration in the ego which can only be described as a setting up of the object inside the ego, as it occurs in melancholia, [...] it makes it possible to suppose that the character of the ego is a precipitate of abandoned object-cathexes and that it contains the history of those object choices.
(Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id, trans. Joan Riviere [London: Hogarth Press, 1927; New York: W. W. Norton & Company-The Norton Library, 1962], 19.)
72 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 226.
73 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 223-224. Miller's years reading randomly in the New York Public Library are evident in this distinction, thoroughly encoded into Tropic of Cancer, between the "zero" that begins the sequence 0,1,2,3... and the "zero" that belongs to the sequence ...-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3... and is the basis of all higher mathematics.
74 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 223.
75 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 222-223.
76 Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 44-45.
77 Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin, Clichy (March 7, 1933), in Henry Miller: Letters to Anaïs Nin, 84-85.
78 The flashlight scene appears after Van Norden's own account of the dialectics of his sexual obsession:
"The thing is this--they all look alike. When you look at them with their clothes on you imagine all sorts of things; you give them an individuality like, which they haven't got, of course. There's just a crack there between the legs and you get all steamed up about it--you don't even look at it half the time. You know it's there and all you think about is getting your ramrod inside: it's as though your penis did the thinking for you. It's an illusion. You get all burned up about nothing . . . about a crack with hair on it, or without hair. It's so absolutely meaningless that it fascinated me to look at it. I must have studied it for ten minutes or more. When you look at it that way, sort of detached like, you get funny notions in your head. All that mystery about sex and then you discover that it's nothing--just a blank. Wouldn't it be funny if you found a harmonica inside . . . or a calendar? But there's nothing there . . . nothing at all. It's disgusting. It almost drove me mad . . . Listen, do you know what I did afterwards? I gave her a quick lay and then I turned my back on her. Yeah, I picked up a book and I read. You can get something out of a book, even a bad book . . . but a cunt, it's just a sheer loss of time. . . ."
It just so happened that as he was concluding this speech a whore gave us the eye. Without the slightest transition he says to me abruptly: "Would you like to give her a tumble?"
(Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 126-127.)
The illusion that nourishes man--the peculiar brilliance of Tropic of Cancer is inseparable from its misogyny. Miller tries to distance himself from Van Norden. It is indisputable that this distancing fails: Van Norden, like MacGregor of Tropic of Capricorn, remains a sex-obsessed alter-ego in whom Miller contemplates a part of himself he would prefer to discard but is compelled to recognize. However, the result is an unsurpassed, stark rendition of the dialectic of desire and disgust animating sexual hierarchy. Miller does not escape, but neither does he flinch from representing the inseparable power and horror of the "illusion that nourishes man."
79 Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin, Clichy (March 7, 1933), in Henry Miller: Letters to Anaïs Nin, 86.
80 I defer analysis of Miller's reproduction of patriarchy, which draws upon a different strain of misogyny than New Critical modernism, for a later chapter.
81 Henry Miller, "The Universe of Death, from 'The World of Lawrence,'" in The Cosmological Eye, 113, 129. The qualities of which Edmund Wilson speaks are the qualities that turn of the century urban planners, such as Frederick Law Olmstead, tried to impress upon urban, proletarian chaos. In this respect Miller' critique of Ulysses and the New Critical modernist city has broader cultural ramifications. It is well worth considering the extent to which the "dirty Dublin" of Joyce's imagination is the ironic mirror image of the "White City" of the 1892 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. The "composition" of dirty Dublin and the White City proceed along similar lines of unifying hierarchy, building imaginary spaces of human habitation and models for aesthetic creation. Miller's critique of dirty Dublin might be read as a critique of the White City. Conversely, what Alan Trachtenberg has written in The Incorporation of America of the creation of the White City could be repeated with little modification of the composition of Joyce's Dublin:
We shall take it [as the White City was taken] as a pedagogy, a model and a lesson not only of what the future might look like but, just as important, how it might be brought about. [....] For example, as a model city it taught a lesson in the coordination of spaces and structures: some 400 buildings covering almost 700 acres of once swampy land dredged and filled and inlaid with canals, lagoons, plazas, and promenades, and a preserve of woods. Based on Olmstead's unifying ground plan, it taught the public utility of beauty, the coordination of art with the latest mechanical wonders: railroads, dynamos, electrical bulbs. [....] The overt message stressed the structure of authority, a structure which gave to the Director of Works, Daniel H. Burnham, a free hand in selecting designers, architects, engineers and approving plans.
The design, then, encompassed a schematic set of contrasts, and by this it further promulgated its message of unity through subordination. But the heart of the message did not lie in the geometric pattern alone; it lay in the fact that the formal center of the Fair was derived from "art," from "culture."
(Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age [New York: Hill and Wang, 1982], 209, 213.)
Of course, the "modernist" architects of the White City were not New Critical modernists nor were they proto-modernists. As statements within different aesthetic discourses, the White City and dirty Dublin subdue the flow of Miller's live city in distinctive fashion. A mirrored, ironic White City, dirty Dublin is awash with the lower class life which the World's Columbian Exposition, as a utopian projection, displaces. To see the White City under the same aesthetic with which Joyce presents dirty Dublin we must adopt the more distanced stance of Stephen's "rhythm of beauty."
Here, it is necessary to exercise caution lest New Critical irony cloud discussions of prior aesthetic regimes:
A model of the true, ideal shape of reality, and in the methods of attaining that shape, the World's Columbian Exposition made itself relevant almost exactly to the extent that the world outside its gates did not conform to its symmetry. What may strike us as ironies are instead contradictions held in momentary balance--not a confusion of values, as historians have suggested, but an effort to incorporate contrary and diverse values under the unity of a system of culture in support of a system of society.
(Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America, 216.)
Trachtenberg's suspicion of essentially self-congratulatory critiques of the "ironies" of the White City is well founded. The "contradictions" strike us as ironies precisely because "contradictions held in momentary balance" is what I. A. Richards' irony and Stephen Dedalus' "rhythm of beauty" value. As an aesthetic statement, the White City is not self-ironized, but this is an inadequacy only in terms of strategies of New Critical modernism. The White City is not less culturally effective for its refusal of aesthetic irony. Outside the realm of aesthetic discourse, the White City balances itself against the life it displaces and achieves an unarticulated version of what I. A. Richards called the "balance of opposed impulses." In Ulysses, the world outside the gates of the "White City" is contained and subdued within the novel. Unknowing and knowing, the White City and dirty Dublin impose order and hierarchy upon the flow of city life. Recall T. S. Eliot's ecstatic declaration: "Instead of narrative method, we may now use the mythical method. It is, I seriously believe, a step toward making the modern world possible for art, toward that order and form which Mr. Aldington so earnestly desires." (T. S. Eliot, "'Ulysses,' Order, and Myth," The Dial [November 1923]; reprinted in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, 178.) This is the end pursued by different aesthetic means by the White City and Ulysses.