Henry Miller
Quotations


The artist is the opposite of the politically minded individual, the opposite of the reformer, the opposite of the idealist. The artist does not tinker with the universe; he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.

We do not talk--we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests.

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.

The man who is forever disturbed about the condition of humanity either has no problems of his own or has refused to face them.

Every genuine boy is a rebel and an anarch. If he were allowed to develop according to his own instincts, his own inclinations, society would undergo such a radical transformation as to make the adult revolutionary cower and cringe.

Man has demonstrated that he is master of everything--except his own nature.

A book is a part of life, a manifestation of life, just as much as a tree or a horse or a star. It obeys its own rhythms, its own laws, whether it be a novel, a play, or a diary. The deep, hidden rhythm of life is always there--that of the pulse, the heart beat.

The new always carries with it the sense of violation, of sacrilege. What is dead is sacred; what is new, that is different, is evil, dangerous, or subversive.

Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything.

The real leader has no need to lead--he is content to point the way.

The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.

I have always looked upon decay as being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth.

The study of crime begins with the knowledge of oneself. All that you despise, all that you loathe, all that you reject, all that you condemn and seek to convert by punishment springs from you.

All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.

The American ideal is youth--handsome, empty youth.

If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.

The world isn't kept running because it's a paying proposition. (God doesn't make a cent on the deal.) The world goes on because a few men in every generation believe in it utterly, accept it unquestioningly; they underwrite it with their lives.

The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference.

Example moves the world more than doctrine. The great exemplars are the poets of action, and it makes little difference whether they be forces for good or forces for evil.

The diary is an art form just as much as the novel or the play. The diary simply requires a greater canvas.

We have been educated to such a fine--or dull--point that we are incapable of enjoying something new, something different, until we are first told what it's all about. We don't trust our five senses; we rely on our critics and educators, all of whom are failures in the realm of creation. In short, the blind lead the blind. It's the democratic way.

It is the American vice, the democratic disease which expresses its tyranny by reducing everything unique to the level of the herd.

Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders which make no sense.

It does me good to write a letter which is not a response to a demand, a gratuitous letter, so to speak, which has accumulated in me like the waters of a reservoir.

The life of a creator is not the only life nor perhaps the most interesting which a man leads. There is a time for play and a time for work, a time for creation and a time for lying fallow. And there is a time, glorious too in its own way, when one scarcely exists, when one is a complete void. I mean--when boredom seems the very stuff of life.

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.

What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs.

The worst sin that can be committed against the artist is to take him at his word, to see in his work a fulfillment instead of an horizon.

If men cease to believe that they will one day become gods then they will surely become worms.



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