Surrealistic short story by Henry Miller. He wrote just one of a kind. It’s set in a reality built from elements and visuals present in Miró’s, Rouault and Chagall’s paintings.
It’s about a clown whose main act consists of enlightenment on stage. He changes lives and identities a few times in his quest for joy, to only realise that he doesn’t need to impersonate different characters in order to be himself and that by just being himself, he was the best that he could be. The fantastic world surrounding him was not a fantasy at all. It was reality just like our reality is built from dreams coming together into a beautiful and resourceful picture.
I had a chance to talk to a few people about Henry Miller while in the US as I was quite excited about being in Big Sur, where he lived a big chunk of his life. I realised that Americans have mixed opinions about him; they recognise his reputation but struggle to understand his writing. They struggle to understand where his greatness was, while fairly disgusted by his raw description of taboo subjects. Or his way of living, completely unfiltered and always ready to absorb and describe the human show, whether it was fair or not. And if you read Miller, you will find out that things are rarely pretty or simple. That life is a crazy brothel employee. That unlike angels, we release various bodily secretions. And unlike angels, our lives are most wild and adventurous.
I really felt proud of my origins, knowing that Miller found comprehension and admiration in Europe back in the 30s and this made me reflect upon how things have changed. Americans are tolerant, open minded and have a far-reaching mentality nowadays, whereas Europeans seem to have forgotten their revolutionary minds and have found themselves hanging desperately to old fashioned and obsolete ways of thinking and seeing the world, for fear of losing their identity.
If this is too much of a generalisation, I will then take the example of Paris, of how much they fear and resent diversity, and invite them to remember the roaring 20s, when Paris was a glorious place, full of artists, writers, painters, philanthropists and other glorious minds, from all over the world. Everybody came to Paris to become the best version of themselves. And what amazing times those were, despite the shaking political situation after the war and all that came with it.
California definitely feels today like Paris must have felt in the past. Creative, bubbling, artsy, a bit mad and terribly beautiful in its extremes. And the rest of us, might we be somewhere in the middle? Adjusting to an ever changing world, to our many talents and aspects of our personality, to the struggle of loving ourselves deeply in those few moments when we realise we are at our very best as we are right now?
I am yet to have heard of a reality that is better, more colourful or fulfilling than mine. Or yours. I don’t always feel this way but being wrong or feeling lost is also part of the journey. It’s evolution, coping with change, taking clumsy steps but always moving forward, always reinventing oneself and being aware of how much we have to give if we all managed to create thousands of different realities, all unique, all from scratch and all wonder like. It’s enough to look around and see your friends and family accomplish amazing things on a daily basis. Whether it is growing the tastiest veggies in your garden, learning the alphabet, building a house, a company, excelling at work or raising awesome tiny humans. Crazy inspiring!
As grandpa Miller points out, in order to be the most fantastic clown there is, you don’t have to put on a mask. Just get out in the world and have us find out more about your very own. Honestly, if you truly believe in yourself, who won’t?