Henry Miller on Writing Quotes

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Henry Miller on Writing Henry Miller on Writing by Henry Miller
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Henry Miller on Writing Quotes (showing 1-30 of 35)
“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.

”I began in absolute chaos and darkness, in a bog or swamp of ideas and emotions and experiences. Even now I do not consider myself a writer, in the ordinary sense of the word. I am a man telling the story of his life, a process which appears more and more inexhaustible as I go on. Like the world-evolution, it is endless. It is a turning inside out, a voyaging through X dimensions, with the result that somewhere along the way one discovers that what one has to tell is not nearly so important as the telling itself. It is this quality about all art which gives it a metaphysical hue, which lifts it out of time and space and centers or integrates it to the whole cosmic process. It is this about art which is ‘therapeutic’: significance, purposefulness, infinitude.

”From the very beginning almost I was deeply aware that there is no goal. I never hope to embrace the whole, but merely to give in each separate fragment, each work, the feeling of the whole as I go on, because I am digging deeper and deeper into life, digging deeper and deeper into past and future. With the endless burrowing a certitude develops which is greater than faith or belief. I become more and more indifferent to my fate, as writer, and more and more certain of my destiny as a man.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Like every man I am my own worst enemy, but unlike most men I know too that I am my own saviour.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“...the art of living involves the act of creation. The work of art is nothing. It is only the tangible, visible evidence of a way of life, which, if it is not crazy is certainly different from the accepted way of life... For the artist to attach himself to his work, or identify himself with it, is suicidal.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Looking back upon my career, I see myself as a person capable of undertaking almost any task, any vocation. It was the monotony and sterility of the other outlets which drove me to desperation. I demanded a realm in which I should be both master and slave at the same time: the world of art is the only such realm. I entered it without any apparent talent, a thorough novice, incapable, awkward, tongue-tied, almost paralyzed by fear and apprehensiveness. I had to lay one brick on another, set millions of words to paper before writing one real, authentic word dragged up from my own guts. The facility of speech which I possessed was a handicap; I had all the vices of the educated man. I had to learn to think, feel, and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“I didn't dare to think of anything then except the "facts." To get beneath the facts I would have had to be an artist, and one doesn't become an artist overnight. First you have to be crushed, to have your conflicting points of view annihilated. You have to be wiped out as a human being in order to be born again an individual. You have to be carbonized and mineralized in order to work upwards from the last common denominator of the self. You have to get beyond pity in order to feel from the very roots of your being.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“To imagine a new world is to live it daily, each thought, each glance, each step, each gesture killing and re-creating, death always a step in advance. To spit on the past is not enough. To proclaim the future is not enough. One must act as if the past were dead and the future unrealizable. One must act as if the next step were the last, which it is. Each step forward is the last, and with it a world dies, one's self included. We are here of the earth never to end, the past never ceasing, the future never beginning, the present never ending.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Down to the closest friend every man is a potential murderer. Often it wasn't necessary to bring out the gun or the lasso or the branding iron-- they had found subtler and more devilish ways of torturing and killing their own. For me the most excruciating agony was to have the word annihilated before it even left my mouth. I learned, by bitter experience, to hold my tongue; I learned to sit in silence, and even smile, when actually I was foaming at the mouth. I learned to shake hands and say how do you do to all this innocent-looking fiends who were only waiting for me to sit down in order to suck my blood.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“I didn’t lack thoughts nor words nor the power of expression— I lacked something much more important: the lever which would shut off the juice. The bloody machine wouldn’t stop, that was the difficulty. I was not only in the middle of the current but the current was running through me and I had no control over it whatever.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“But there was a streak in me, a perverse one, which prevented me from giving the essential self. This "perversity" always voiced itself thus: "Reveal your true self and they will mutilate you.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Overcoming the world. And thus finding it. For we must not only be in it and above it, but of it too. To love it for what it is- how difficult! And yet it's the first, the only task. Evade it, and you are lost. Lose yourself in it and you are free.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“The frantic desire to live, to live at any cost, is not a result of the life rhythm in us, but of the death rhythm.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“The world has not to be put in order: the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order, to know what is the world order in contradistinction to the wishful-thinking orders which we seek to impose on one another.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Seeking, knowing, discovering, enjoying- these faculties or powers are pale and lifeless without realization.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“I speak in cosmological terms because it seems to me that is the only possible way to think if one is truly alive. I think this way also because it is just the opposite of the way I thought a few years back when I had what is called hopes. Hope is a bad thing. It means that you are not what you want to be. It means that part of you is dead, if not all of you. It means that you entertain illusions.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“It is the great mass of mankind, the mob, the people, who create the permanently bad times. The world is only the mirror of ourselves. If it's something to make one puke, why then puke me lads, it's your own sick mugs you're looking at!”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“With every line I write I kill off the "artist" in me. With every line it is either murder in the first degree or suicide. I do not want to give hope to others, nor to inspire others. If we knew what it meant to be inspired we would not inspire. We would simply be.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Nothing would be regarded as obscene, I feel, if men were living out their inmost desires. What man dreads most is to be faced with the manifestation, in word or deed, of that which he has refused to live out, that which he has throttled or stifled, buried as we say now, in his subconscious mind. The sordid qualities imputed to the enemy are always those which we recognize as our own and therefore rise to slay, because only through projection do we realize the enormity and horror of them.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Every man is working out his destiny in his own way and nobody can be of help except by being kind, generous, and patient.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“To wander farther was to wander alone, to rely wholly upon oneself.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“The creative artist has something in common with the hero. Though functioning on another plane, he too believes that he has solutions to offer. He gives his life to accomplish imaginary triumphs. At the conclusion of every grand experiment, whether by statesman, warrior, poet or philosopher, the problems of life present the same enigmatic complexion. The happiest people, it is said, are those which have no history. Those which have a history, those which have made history, seem only to have emphasized through their accomplishments the eternality of struggle. These disappear too, eventually, just as those who made no effort, who were content merely to live and to enjoy.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“There is an ordinary kind of forgetting and a special kind: the latter is due, more than likely to the vice of living in two worlds at once. One of the consequences of this tendency is that you live everything out innumerable times. Worse, whatever you succeed in transmitting to paper seems but an infinitesimal fraction of what you've already written in your head.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“There is no progress: there is perpetual movement, displacement, which is circular, spiral, endless. Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it lead him.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“I do not believe in words, no matter if strung together by the most skillful man: I believe in language, which is something beyond words, something which words give only an adequate illusion of.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“A child has no need to write, he is innocent. A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“A great work of art, if it accomplishes anything, serves to remind us, or let us say to set us dreaming, of all that is fluid and intangible.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“I had just made the realization that life is indestructible and that there is no such thing as time, only the present.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“Nothing happens in the brain, except the gradual rust and detrition of the cells. But in the mind, worlds unclassified, undenominated, unassimilated, form, break, unite, dissolve, and harmonize ceaselessly. In the mind-world ideas are the indestructible elements which form the jeweled constellations of the interior life. We move within their orbits freely if we follow their intricate patterns, enslaved or possessed if we try to subjugate them. Everything external is but a reflection projected by the mind machine.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing
“It's as though there were two melodies going on simultaneously: one for private exploitation and the other for the public ear. The whole struggle is to squeeze into the public record some tiny essence of the perpetual inner melody.”
Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing

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