Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Tropic Of Capricorn, by Henry Miller

I have been quoting this book for nearly 30 years. The truth is, I have tried to find the exact passage that I quote on several occasions, but I have not been able to do so. Does it exist, or is the quotation a personal myth, an inference that my than 20 year old mind induced from this evocative story of personal triumph and liberation?

In truth, I don't know, but I will tell you this: when my back is against the wall in life, I find myself thinking of what I attribute to Miller.

When you reach the limits of what is demanded of you, you reach the same dilemma: To be yourself.

Perhaps it really doesn't matter if the quote is exact, but this what I have taken with me. Tropic of Capricorn often takes a back seat to Tropic of Cancer, the later of which chronicles Miller's adventures as member of Paris' artistic intelligentsia. Capricorn is a book more about relationships, the story of preparing to transform a life. It is a more nuanced book, and is more introspective, human, existential. At every turn and transition of my life, including now, I resonate with Miller's guidance about the self.

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