Beyond Books and Teachers, the Guide Lies in the Path Itself
Henry Miller talks about books and reading to assert that life is the best source of knowledge and wisdom.
Writers and artists are known for disobeying their time’s pre-established moral codes. And, in the entire history of literature, there are few figures as iconoclastic as Henry Miller, who imposed on himself the enormous and complex task of tearing down precepts, and strived for an authentically free development.
Among Miller’s published works is a series of notes on reading (undoubtedly one the most effective vehicles that help us find freedom). The Books in My Life (1952) reflects on the menage à trois that takes place between a book, a reader and the society they belong to —a dynamic that derives in behaviors and attitudes about reading and knowledge in general.
My encounters with books I regard very much as my encounters with other phenomena of life or thought. All encounters configure, not isolate. In this sense, and in this sense only, books are as much a part of life as trees, stars or dung. I have no reverence for them per se.
This fragment reveals Miller’s usual severity, he dissects the ambivalence that is used to judge reading in modernity; a contradictory oscillation between veneration and contempt, respect and marginalization. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the author of Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn refuses to acknowledge that books hold any special wisdom:
The vast body of literature, in every domain, is composed of hand-me-down ideas. The question —never resolved, alas! — is to what extent it would be efficacious to curtail the overwhelming supply of cheap fodder. One thing is certain today —the illiterate are definitely not the least intelligent among us. If it be knowledge or wisdom one is seeking, then one had better go direct to the source. And the source is not the scholar or philosopher, not the master, saint, or teacher, but life itself —direct experience of life. The same is true for art. Here, too, we can dispense with ‘the masters.’
Perhaps books are like baby-walkers, a necessity early on in life but that, when the right moment comes —one which books could paradoxically point out—, we can leave behind in a corner and start walking on our own.
Pictorial spiritism (a woman's drawings guided by a spirit)
There are numerous examples in the history of self-taught artists which suggest an interrogation of that which we take for granted within the universe of art. Such was the case with figures like
Astounding fairytale illustrations from Japan
Fairy tales tribal stories— are more than childish tales. Such fictions, the characters of which inhabit our earliest memories, aren’t just literary works with an aesthetic and pleasant purpose. They
A cinematic poem and an ode to water: its rhythms, shapes and textures
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. - John Keats Without water the equation of life, at least life as we know it, would be impossible. A growing hypothesis holds that water, including the
Watch beauty unfold through science in this "ode to a flower" (video)
The study of the microscopic is one of the richest, most aesthetic methods of understanding the world. Lucky is the scientist who, upon seeing something beautiful, is able to see all of the tiny
To invent those we love or to see them as they are? Love in two of the movies' favorite scenes
So much has been said already, of “love” that it’s difficult to add anything, much less something new. It’s possible, though, perhaps because even if you try to pass through the sieve of all our
This app allows you to find and preserve ancient typographies
Most people, even those who are far removed from the world of design, are familiar with some type of typography and its ability to transform any text, help out dyslexics or stretch an eight page paper
The secrets of the mind-body connection
For decades medical research has recognized the existence of the placebo effect — in which the assumption that a medication will help produces actual physical improvements. In addition to this, a
The sea as infinite laboratory
Much of our thinking on the shape of the world and the universe derives from the way scientists and artists have approached these topics over time. Our fascination with the mysteries of the
Sharing and collaborating - natural movements of the creative being
We might sometimes think that artistic or creative activity is, in essence, individualistic. The Genesis of Judeo-Christian tradition portrays a God whose decision to create the world is as vehement
John Malkovich becomes David Lynch (and other characters)
John Malkovich and David Lynch are, respectively, the actor and film director who’ve implicitly or explicitly addressed the issues of identity and its porous barriers through numerous projects. Now