Henry Miller: The Artist's Vision

The concept of Artistic Suicide appeared during one of my telephone conversations with Marlon Brando in the early summer of 1990. When I asked him to elaborate on some of his ideas of self-destruction and self-preservation, Brando referred me to a piece of writing that he loved and retained. It is from Henry Miller, and it is worth reading, re-reading, studying, arguing over.

Strange as it may seem today to say, the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. In this state of God-like awareness one sings; in this realm the world exists as poem. No why or wherefore, no direction, no goal, no striving, no evolving. Like the enigmatic Chinaman one is rapt by the ever-changing spectacle of passing phenomena. This is the sublime, the a-moral state of the artist, he who lives only in the moment, the visionary moment of utter, far-seeing lucidity. Such clear icy sanity that it seems like madness. By the force and power of the artist's vision the static, synthetic whole which is called the world is destroyed. The artist gives back to us a vital, singing universe, alive in all its parts.

In a way the artist is always acting against the time-destiny movement. He is always a-historical. He accepts time absolutely, as Whitman says, in the sense that any way he rolls (with tail in mouth) is direction; in the sense that any moment, every moment, may be the all; for the artist there is nothing but the present, the eternal here and now, the expanding infinite moment which is flame and song. And when he succeeds in establishing this criterion of passionate experience (which what Lawrence meant by 'obeying the Holy Ghost') then, and only then, is he asserting his humanness. Then only does he live out his pattern as Man. Obedient to every urge--without distinction of morality, ethics, law, custom, etc.


Popular Posts