19 Apr 2009

Sexus, Henry Miller, Vol. 1, pp.11b-14a

[A summary through sometimes-censored citation.]

Henry Miller

Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion

Volume One

pp. 11b-14a

Previously the protagonist arrived near the dance hall. He met his new lover here the night before.
Everything looked familiar yet made no sense; it took ages to coordinate a few simple impressions which by ordinary reflex calculus would mean table, chair, building, person. Buildings emptied of their automatons are even more desolate than tombs; when the machines are left idle they create a void deeper than death itself. I was a ghost moving about in a vacuum. To sit down, to stop and light a cigarette, not to sit down, not to smoke, to think, or not to think, breathe or top breathing, it was all one and the same. Drop dead and the man behind you walks over you; fire a revolver and another man fires at you; yell and you wake the dead who, oddly enough, also have powerful lungs. Traffic is now going East and West; in a minute it will be going North and South. Everything is proceeding blindly according to rule and nobody is getting anywhere. Lurch and stagger in and about, up and down, some dropping out like flies, others swarming in like gnats. Eat standing up, with slots, levers, greasy nickels, greasy cellophane, greasy appetite. Wipe your mouth, belch, pick your teeth, cock your hat, tramp, slide, stagger, whistle, blow your brains out. In the next life I will be a vulture feeding on rich carrion : I will perch on top of the tall buildings and dive like a shot the moment I smell death. (11b-12)
He imagines greeting his new lover Mara. They embrace.
This will take place in a void under powerful Klieg lights with three centimeters of privacy marking a mystic circle around us. (12a)
Now he enters the dance hall.
I mount the steps and enter the arena, the grand ball-room of the double-barrelled sex adepts, now flooded with a warm boudoir glow. The phantoms are waltzing in a sweet chewing gum haze, knees slightly crooked, haunches taut, ankles swimming in powdered sapphire. Between drum beats I hear the ambulance clanging down below, then fire engines, then police sirens. The waltz is perforated with anguish, little bullet holes slipping over the cogs of the mechanical piano which is drowned because it is blocks away in a burning building without fire escapes. (12b-c)
But he cannot find her.
She is not on the floor. She may be lying in bed reading a book, she may be making love with a prize-fighter, or she many [sic] be running like mad through a field of stubble, one shoe on, one shoe off, a man named Corn Cob pursuing her hotly. Wherever she is I am standing in complete darkness; her absence blots me out. (12c)
He asks around where she might be. Most don't know. One person wrongly assures him that she will come.
I wait and wait. The girls are steaming, like sweating horses standing in a field of snow. Midnight. No sign of Mara. I move slowly, unwillingly, towards the door. (13b)
While taking the subway home, he wonders if he suffers any ailments.
No migraine, no acidosis, no intestinal catarrh, no lumbago, no floating bladder, no corns or bunions, no varicose veins? As far as I know I'm sound as a button, and yet... Well, the truth is I lack something, something vital...
I'm love-sick. Sick to death. A touch of dandruff and I'd succumb like a poisoned rat. (13c)
He arrives home.
My body is heavy as lead when I throw it into bed. I pass immediately into the lowest depth of dream. This body, which has become a sarcophagus with stone handles, lies perfectly motionless; the dreamer rises out of it, like a vapor, to circumnavigate the world. The dreamer seeks vainly to find a form and shape that will fit his ethereal essence. Like a celestial tailor, he tries on one body after another, but they are all misfits. Finally he is obliged to return to his own body, to reassume the leaden mould, to become a prisoner of the flesh, to carry on in torpor, pain and ennui. (13-14)

Miller, Henry. Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion. New York: Grove Press, 1965.

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