Advice from Henry Miller’s Mother

“I don’t think that there is a conspiracy against you.”
– Edwin Roth, journalist

Concerning the word “conspiracy,” Harry replied, “that word has a twitty ring to it. I would say that I have am blocked and boycotted, or, if you will, blackballed and blacklisted. The tactic is mostly “now you see him, now you don’t.” Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of the “tactician” gliding out of sight. Perhaps, the motivation, among other things, is that I am the author of Violence under the Guise of Art. Here is a quote: “The pernicious spirit of the Third Reich has been channeled into the arts, flowing with great ease, with no end in sight. The sado-masochistic ideology espouses extreme forms of violence such as pedophilia, rape and murder, including political assassination, and the vilification and bludgeoning of cripples. Its advocates operate under the sanctified carapace of art, while journalists bow low in abject approval and politicians dance to their tunes.”

When Henry Miller came back to Brooklyn from Greece in 1940, prior to the invasion by Italy, his mother asked him why he couldn’t write a book like “Gone with the Wind.” It was decades later that Edwin Roth made the same suggestion to Harry. Mulling things over, Harry came to the conclusion that Edwin had a point, or maybe two points. Perhaps the blocking and the rest of it were indeed figments of the imagination. Harry has a very vivid imagination, and it could be when he caught those glimpses of those “tacticians” gliding out of sight, his eyes might have been playing tricks on him.

“Give Edwin a benefit of a doubt!” Harry thought. Edwin may be a smart aleck who sometimes gets on people’s nerves at press conferences, but there’s no denying that he’s one smart cookie. Henry Miller’s mother wasn’t as smart as Edwin, but she gave her son some damn good advice. Henry, of course, being the smart aleck and know-it-all that he was, scoffed at it. Harry is also a smart aleck, but he would be the first to admit that he hadn’t been smart enough to make a fortune with his pen.

There’s no denying that publishers are on the lookout for bestsellers that will make them rich or richer – even publishers, who never make a move without a subsidy, of which there are quite a few in Austria. And in fact, everything is subsidized which means that with the lack of a subsidy there is no-go with anything. Except perhaps a potential best-seller that could break through the bounds of state-financing. Mulling things over, Harry came to the conclusion that Edwin might have a point, or maybe even two points. After some rumination, he was even ready to accept Edwin’s diagnosis.

Maybe the obstruction and the rest were indeed figments of the imagination. Harry has a vivid imagination, and it could be that when he got those glimpses of the “tacticians gliding out of sight,” his eyes might have been playing tricks on him. And after pondering Edwin’s prudent suggestion, he decided to follow it. And he wouldn’t let himself get sidetracked by themes such as Third Reich Recycling in Austria in the future. A bestseller would be the next undertaking. A title flew through the window like a bird. The blockbuster-to-be would be called “Brought Back by the Wind.” And Harry’s getting to work on it immediately, thanks to Edwin.

On the Subject of Wind

The man in the Windbreaker became the symbol for the new activity. The cult poster showed James Dean walking through a Broadway puddle on the Boulevard of Broken Wind. The hit tunes were Wind is in the Air; All You Need Is Wind; I Can’t Give You Anything but Wind, Baby and Wind is Sweeping the Country. The Anthem became Today the Nation, Tomorrow the World. Men insisted that breaking was masculine and was part of the tough guy image. But women, not to be outdone, made it their own. Feminists declared that breaking represented liberation. Women not only smoke at kaffee klatsches but did is openly on the streets.

The new craze displaced chain-smoking, gum-chewing and -snapping as well as screeching walkman headphones. It simply became the thing to do. Intellectuals would look at you serenely and dreamily as they broke. It seemed to inspire high flights into the cerebral stratosphere. Workers broke on the job, claiming that it improved their speed and efficiency.
In restaurants, breakers would come to sit at your table and break without asking, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do (which it was). Some would even go as far as to break in your face.

Attempts at segregation failed. Breaking was not addictive and it did not cause cancer. Quite on the contrary, it was healthy and invigorating. The best a non-breaker could do was to grin and bear it. Many couldn’t stand standing or sitting on the sidelines and broke down to break wind with the windbreakers. That way breaking was less noticeable. The Holy Roman Mother got into the act. “The family that breaks together, stays together,“ was the way she put it.And the Lefties, as was to be expected, painted breaking Red. “Windbreakers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your wind,” became their motto. Windbreaking took hold of the nation and blasted over every border. It spread to the four corners of the world like wildfire. There was no nook or cranny safe from it. There was nothing left to do but break out of the closet and break wind.