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May 28, 2013
me+ME: One reason to like Henry Miller
Sections
Introduction
1. One reason to like Henry Miller
2. Justice Musmanno's dissenting opinions
3. Short appreciation of Musmanno's opinions
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

I believe I am still somewhat paying back my walk of 4 1/2 weeks ago, but I also seem to be getting out of it.

This is very probably related to my mB12-protocol, that soon will need a little commenting. As it is, I am rejoicing, somewhat, at least, and also have additional grounds, that now follow.

1.
One reason to like Henry Miller

I mentioned the very likable

that I am still reading, and where I found one reason to like Miller, that I display in a moment, after giving some background.

As it happens, I have so far found very little of my Henry Miller books, that I mostly bought and read in the five years 1978-1982, after which I laid them aside, or at least: Did not reread them.

There is an exception, that I bought a bit later: "Genius and Lust", which was Miller edited and introduced at various places by Norman Mailer, that fell apart, basically because it is a thick old paperback that was transported several times.

It is basically a selection by Mailer from Miller, all quite upbeat, but I did not like the introductions of Mailer, at all, and was quite pleased to find in the above links that Miller quite agreed with me.

But I read all of it, which was mostly rereading Miller, and as is my habit, I underlined and made notes, which is why it is a pity the book fell apart.

One of my reasons to like Miller is my personal background: Both of my parents were communists, which is a faith that I totally gave up at the time and place that was most unlucky: Amsterdam in 1970, but which I do not dislike, at least not in my parents and their friends, for it gave me a pleasant and quite probably rather rare childhood.

Also, my mother's parents were anarchists, though in a bit of a hidden fashion, because my mother's father worked as a printer for the Amsterdam council, as a ciivil servant, who would have dismissed him had they known about his political likings.

In any case... that is the sort of background that easily makes one partial to anarchistic writers, which is one of the things Miller was, besides being - regarded as - a pornographic writer, and much more that I leave now undiscussed, except by saying that my "- regarded as -" is quite intentional, and is meant to express that I regard this as mostly an incident, that came to be so because Miller wanted to write something like "the full truth" about his life, while the authorities of the time did not even allow almost any explicit sexual writing.

The result was that Miller made very little money until he got to be in his seventies, simply because most of his works, especially the famous ones, like Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring and Tropic of Capricorn, and later Sexus, Plexus and Nexus, were completely forbidden for decades in both the US and England, which only changed in 1964 - which meant that Miller had no regular or good income until he reached his early seventies, in spite of being well-known, and rather widely admired, since his middle forties.

There is a lot more I might say about this, but this is sufficient as an introduction to the following legal opinion.

2. Justice Musmanno's dissenting opinions

What I found is the following item
from Wednesday, March 19, 2008, in the Cosmodemonic etc. blog (the archived version of the blog), which is the summary of a dissenting opinion by Justice Michael Musmanno, of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, whose Wikipedia lemma is under the last link, and who looked like this, and who lived from 1897-1968:

MUSMANNO v. MILLER
Pictured below: Justice Michael A. Musmanno.



Before turning to Justice Musmanno's dissenting opinion from 1966, let me note something about "dissenting":

In 1964, the Supreme Court of the US had decided that Miller's books were not to be forbidden, though they had been so from 1934 till 1964, at least most of them. Justice Musmanno dissented from this opinion, and not a little - although it should be considered that he was widely known to be a much dissenting Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and also a sincere Catholic:


"Cancer is not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity. And in the center of all this waste and stench, besmearing himself with its foulest defilement, splashes, leaps, crawls and wallows a bifurcated specimen that responds to the name of Henry Miller. One wonders how the human species could have produced so lecherous, blasphemous, disgusting and amoral a human being as Henry Miller. One wonders why he is received in polite society."

In somewhat more detail, as given on the Cosmodemonic etc. blog, in fact 32 years after Tropic of Cancer was published:

"The decision of the Majority of the Court in this case has dealt a staggering blow to the forces of morality, decency and human dignity in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If, by this decision, a thousand rattlesnakes had been let loose, they could not do as much damage to the well-being of the people of this state as the unleashing of all the scorpions and vermin of immorality swarming out of that volume of degeneracy called The Tropic of Cancer. Policemen, hunters, constables and foresters could easily and quickly kill a thousand rattlesnakes but the lice, lizards, maggots and gangrenous roaches scurrying out from beneath the covers of The Tropic of Cancer will enter into the playground, the study desks, the cloistered confines of children and immature minds to eat away moral resistance and wreak damage and harm which may blight countless lives for years and decades to come."

"To say that Cancer has no social importance is like saying that a gorilla at a lawn party picnic does not contribute to the happiness of the occasion. Cancer is a definite sociological evil. It is not to be described negatively. It is a positive menace to the well-being of the community in which it contaminates the air it displaces. It condemns, outrages and ridicules the most fundamental rules of good society, namely, honesty, morality and obedience to law. It encourages anti-Semitism and racial conflict. It incites to disorder. ... Who is the author of this monstrous work, as described by the witnesses in Court? Henry Miller, who identifies himself in the book as a thief, an adulterer and a 'hopeless lecher.' He is irreverent, profane and blasphemous. He lauds harlots and glorifies a sinful career."

"The defendants argued that under the Roth case only hard-core pornography comes within the ban of obscenity, and this would exclude Cancer. The defendant would have reason to say that Cancer is not hard-core pornography; it is, in fact, rotten-core pornography. No decomposed apple falling apart because of its rotten core could be more nauseating as an edible than Cancer is sickening as food for the ordinary mind. Cancer is dirt for dirt’s sake, or, more appropriately, as Justice Frankfurter put it, dirt for money’s sake. Then the defendants say that Cancer is entitled to immunity under the First Amendment because court decisions have declared that only worthless trash may be proscribed as obscene. To say that Cancer is worthless trash is to pay it a compliment. Cancer is the sweepings of the Augean stables, the stagnant bile of the slimiest mudscow, the putrescent corruption of the most noisome dump pile, the dreggiest filth in the deepest morass of putrefaction."

"Cancer is not a book. It is malignancy itself. It is a cancer on the literary body of America. I wonder that it can remain stationary on the bookshelf. One would expect it to generate self-locomotion just as one sees a moldy, maggoty rock move because of the creepy, crawling creatures underneath it."

"Cancer has no social worth whatever, it has no literary merit and no information value. It is a scabious toad croaking obscene phrases in a pestiferous swamp of filth and degradation."

"Cancer was published by the Grove Press, whose printing presses must by now be corroded with the festering mildew emanating from the accounts of human depravity, abnormal relations and Satanic perversion which have passed over its purulent type."

"I regret that the action of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the oldest Supreme Court in the nation, should result, not in Cancer’s being consigned to the garbage can malodorously yawning to receive it, but, instead, in Cancer’s being authorized unquestioned entry into the Public Library in Philadelphia within ringing distance of Independence Hall where the Liberty Bell rang out joyously the proclamation of the freedom, independence and dignity of man."

"I prefer to follow the broad clean highway of decent literature, inspirational books, wholesomely entertaining stories, uplifting essays, enlightening histories and novels that one can read as easily as riding
comfortably in a gondola."

Thus Justice Michael Musmanno's dissenting opinions. To be fair to him: He was not the only one with similar opinions. As the owner of the blog adds:
Just to be clear, Justice Musmanno was by far not the only judge to feel offended by Tropic Of Cancer. The book Strange Philadelphia (by Lou Harry, pp. 190-195) quotes a number of Philadelphia officials from the early 1960s, on the subject of Miller and Cancer: "A crass example of filth and a cesspool of corruption"; "filthy trash"; "literary smut"; "an insult to sex."

3. Short appreciation of Musmanno's opinions

Finally, a brief appreciation:

Let it first be stated that Justice Musmanno's opinions are probably, almost 50 years after they were written, still the opinions of the American majority. And here I do not mean that the current majority would agree with his actual wording, but that they would, at least, agree more with his sentiments than with Henry Miller.

Secondly, Justice Musmanno was not consistent: Clearly, Tropic of Cancer is a book, and had been so for 32 years before Musmanno pronounced on it, in dissent. Indeed, it was a book that must have much upset him to read.

Thirdly, the reason Justice Musmanno was so very angry - although from his lemma on Wikipedia it appears that he was anyway a much dissenting character in Pennsylvania's Supreme Court - is that it is a good book: If it had been utter trash, or hard-core pornography, or indeed merely pornography, his opinions would have been - is my considered guess - far less over the top.

Fourthly, the reasons Justice Musmanno's dissent is so fierce, is very probably that he was quite clear that
"It is a positive menace to the well-being of the community in which it contaminates the air it displaces. It condemns, outrages and ridicules the most fundamental rules of good society, namely, honesty, morality and obedience to law."
Indeed it does, if perhaps not quite in those words and their senses, and certainly not in most of the other words of Musmanno's dissenting opinion.

Fifthly and finally, while it seems rather probable that Musmanno would not have liked the present United States, he need not have worried about the corrosive effects of Henry Miller on it:

The books, and indeed also the morality, of Henry Miller were and are too much of an exception to the average, that they still are mostly liked by only a fairly small fraction of intellectuals or semi-intellectuals, even though they have been freely for sale now for almost 50 years, and even though most Americans know Henry Miller's novels were once deemed to be pornographic. [1]

As indeed they should be freely accessible, were it only for the reason just stated, though there are many more.
---------------------------------
Note

[1] Let it be noted that pornography is still the most common and most popular source of internet use, and that Henry Miller's incidental pornography is, compared to that, quite mild.

And let me also state clearly that this is not in contradiction with my saying that the majority of the Americans is probably more pro Mussanto than pro Miller:

Firstly, most Americans are not very honest when answering questions, and especially so about sexual subjects, and secondly I was talking about "Miller's sentiments" as compared with those of Justice Mussanto, and I was not restricting those to matters of pornography, and indeed neither was Justice Mussanto.

-- May 29, 2013: Added a few words and corrected a few typos.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


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