I will never say that I could possibly finish this list before it's my time to go. And yet, it seems a worthy goal. Miller was a voracious reader and that in itself is something to aspire to. There have been so many books written and published in the 40 plus years since Henry Miller's passing, many of which are already on my ever growing "to be read" list. I'm sure that the more I read, the more books will be added to my list.
Following is a list of books that Miller stated influenced him. Several of these books, not all, are readily available. I have been looking for the unexpurgated edition of Spengler's Decline of the West for at least twenty years.
1 Ancient Greek Dramatists
2 Arabian Nights (for children)
3 Elizabethan Playwrights (excepting Shakespeare)
4 European Playwrights of 19th Century
5 Greek Myths and Legends
6 Knights of King Arthur’s Court
7 Abèlard, Pierre, The Story of My Misfortunes
8 Alain-Fournier, The Wanderer
9 Andersen, Hans Christian, Fairy Tales
10 Anonymous, Diary of a Lost One
11 Balzac, Honoré de, Seraphita
12 Balzac, Honoré de, Louis Lambert
13 Bellamy, Edward, Looking Backward
14 Belloc, Hilaire, The Path to Rome
15 Blavatsky, Mme. H. P., The Secret Doctrine
16 Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Decameron
17 Breton, André, Nadja
18 Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights
19 Bulwyer-Lytton, Edward, Last Days of Pompeii
20 Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland
21 Céline, Louis-Ferdinand, Journey to the End of the Night
22 Cellini, Benvenuto, Autobiography
23 Cendrars, Blaise, Virtually the complete works
24 Chesterton, G.K., Saint Francis of Assisi
25 Conrad, Joseph, His works in general
26 Cooper James Fenimore, Leatherstocking Tales
27 Defoe, Daniel, Robinson Crusoe
28 De Nerval, Gérard, His works in general
29 Dostoievsky, Feodor, His works in general
30 Dreiser, Theodore, His works in general
31 Duhamel, Geoges, Salavin Series
32 Du Maurier, George, Trilby
33 Dumas, Alexander, The Three Musketeers
34 Eckermann, Johann, Conversations with Goethe
35 Eltzbacher, Paul, Anarchism
36 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Representative Men
37 Fabre, Henri, His works in general
38 Faure, Elie, The History of Art
39 Fenollosa, Ernest, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry
40 Gide, André, Dostoievski
41 Giono, Jean, Refus d’Obéissance
42 Giono, Jean, Que ma joie domeure
43 Giono, Jean, Jean le Bleu
44 Grimm Brothers, Fairy Tales
45 Gutkind, Erich, The Absolute Collective
46 Haggard, Rider, She
47 Hamsun, Knut, His works in general
48 Henty, G. A., His works in general
49 Hesse, Hermann, Siddhartha
50 Hudson, W. H., His works in general
51 Hugo, Victor, Les Misérables
52 Huysmans, Joris Karl, Against the Grain
53 Joyce, James, Ulysses
54 Keyserling, Hermann, South American Meditations
55 Kropotkin, Peter, Mutual Aid
56 Lao-tse, Tao Teh Ch’ing
57 Latzko, Andreas, Men in War
58 Long, Haniel, Interlinear to Cabeza de Vaca
59 M, Gospel of Ramakrishna
60 Machen, Arthur, The Hill of Dreams
61 Maeterlinck, Maurice, His works in general
62 Mann, Thomas, The Magic Mountain
63 Mencken, H. L., Prejudices
64 Nietzsche, His works in general
65 Nijinsky, Diary
66 Nordhoff & Hall, Pitcairn Island
67 Nostradamus, The Centuries
68 Peck, George Wilbur, Peck’s Bad Boy
69 Percival, W. O., William Blake’s Circle of Destiny
70 Petronius, The Satyricon
71 Plutarch, Lives
72 Powys, John Cowper, Visions and Revisions
73 Prescott, William H., Conquest of Mexico
74 Prescott, William H., Conquest of Peru
75 Proust, Marcel, Remembrance of Things Past
76 Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
77 Rimbaud, Jean-Arthur, His works in general
78 Rolland, Romain, Jean-Christophe
79 Rolland, Romain, Prophets of the New India
80 Rudhyar, Dane, Astrology of Personality
81 Saltus, Edgar, The Imperial Purple
82 Scott, Sir Walter, Ivanhoe
83 Sienkiewicz, Henry, Quo Vadis
84 Sikelianos, Anghelos, Proanakrousma
85 Sinnett, A. P., Esoteric Buddhism
86 Spencer, Herbert, Autobiography
87 Spengler, Oswald, The Decline of the West
88 Strindberg, August, The Inferno
89 Suarès, Carlo, Krishnamurti
90 Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro, Zen Buddhism
91 Swift, Jonathan, Guilliver’s Travels
92 Tennyson, Alfred, Idylls of the King
93 Thoreau, Henry David, Civil Disobedience & Other Essays
94 Twain, Mark, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
95 Van Gogh, Vincent, Letters to Theo
96 Wassermann, Jacob, The Maurizius Case (Trilogy)
97 Weigall, Arthur, Akhnaton
98 Welch, Galbraith, The Unveiling of Timbuctoo
99 Werfel, Franz, Star of the Unborn
100 Whitman, Walt, Leaves of Grass
"It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems."
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Has it really been over a month since I last posted anything? I guess I've been on a bit of a hiatus from almost everything.
I woke up early, as usual, this morning. I struggle on work days to get out of bed, but on my days off I am wide awake at 6:30 a.m., if not earlier. I have, however, already been productive. I started bread and am in the process of making curtido, one of many things I plan on fermenting in the kitchen.
I have spent the last few months in a state of burnout. The job I have been working at for the last seven years was finally getting to be too much. Without going into too much detail, the workload-staffing ratio was too much. Working in any health care environment during this pandemic is stressful. I can only imagine how much stress a front line worker is experiencing
But I just transferred to a different job and it's just what I needed. I feel the effects of burnout fatigue fading little by little. My writing has suffered, the several typewriters I had hoped to restore and sell are neglected. My recent focus has been in the kitchen, mostly to avoid eating takeout. I also realize the benefits of cooking at home. Valerie and I both feel better having home cooked meals.
And the typewriters.? Yes, they are calling to me. It's time to get busy, The writing and reading I keep saying I will do also beckons. But first, I have a lot of straightening to do. Since it's really too cold to go outside, I think today is the day.
I know, I do it every New Year's Day. We all do it. We make a list of things we want to change to make the coming year better than the last. It's sometime a trap for failure, as we all know. By March most of us are just "fuck it!" and move on. No judgement from me.
And yet, here I am. Ready for change. Is it merely a coincidence that my craving for change lands of the first day of the year? Perhaps, but probably not.
Let's just admit, 2021 and 2020 pretty much sucked. There were bright spots, of course. I just want to hope that 2022 at least shows some positive inroads.
When I opened up the blog, I realize that I needed to write more often. There's my first resolution. Write more. Write poetry, stories, journal, letters to friends!
That was easy. Which comes to my second resolution: read more. Read more everything. More fiction, more philosophy, more history! MORE! I have been seriously slacking in this area. I have so MANY BOOKS to read! It's ridiculous.
Which brings me to my third resolution. This is the hardest one. It's certainly an addiction. It's not a chemical addicton...or well...it is in a way. Dopamine and Seratonin. And it allays the "fear of missing out." You can probably guess to what I am referring.
Yep. Social Fucking Media. Facebook. Twitter. Even Instagram to a smaller degree. Facebook is the biggest one. And it's the first step. Third non-binding resolution: suspend the Facebook account.
I will keep posting on Instagram because it helps me with my typewriter business. Twitter, well, is a connection to an old childhood friend (who also ditched Facebook long ago). We have also started writing letters back and forth, something I miss doing.
So yes, I am suspending my Facebook account. For now. If nothing else, I just need a break. Facebook invades my hermit time. That should be the biggest reason of all.
Jack Kerouac opened a lot of doors for me. I read On the Road as a senior in high school, most likely inspired by my obsession with Bob Dylan at the time. I tried to read as much Kerouac as I could get my hands on, which was actually very little. I grew up in a small town full of narrow minds.
There is never just one door to one destination. I can't chart a specific course that led me to Dylan, then to Kerouac, to the Beat Generation and all the "angel-headed hipsters." I brought away a lot of things from learning about the Beats, some of it good (reading and writing) and some not so great (excessive drinking and a 4 pack a day cigarette habit). Most of the bad things have fallen by the wayside, thankfully. Most of the favorable things remain; the voracious reading, the aspiration to write, the interest in Zen and other forms of Buddhism.
And then there's jazz, specifically Bop. John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker. They all inspire the Word inside me, striving to get out.
Kerouac and the Beat Generation influenced the literary world in so many ways. Many of them, Kerouac included, never lived to realize how much of an influence they were and still are. Kerouac, despite all his flaws and misdirections, was The Word Made Flesh.
So I present to you a playlist. I did not curate this list. I think I will make that an endeavor for later. I think it fairly represents much of the jazz music that Kerouac and his contemporaries listened to. Thanks to Ariana Lara for compiling this playlist.
I hope you enjoy it. And remember, turn up the volume!
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
Presented without comment, because the album speaks for itself.
Personnel on Kind of Blue include:
With personnel like this, the only thing you can do is, well, turn up the volume!
I have fallen in love with TedEd videos. They are short videos that cover a variety of subjects: Math, History, Literature for starters. Most of them are available on YouTube. In fact, it was the Literature videos that inspired me to make the Onerous Reading List. They have sparked my interest in reading quite a few books that I probably would never read (or have never read). Today I present this video, Why You Should Read Kurt Vonnegut. I have read several Vonnegut books since high school. This video makes me want to re-read them. I am not one of those "life is too short to re-read books" people. I have read Bram Stoker's Dracula countless (at least ten) times since I was in elementary school. Each time I get something I didn't catch on previous readings.
So Vonnegut, yes, by all means. Read him. You might like it.
And so it goes...
.Moanin' is what I play when I want to get my brain (and to a lesser degree, body) moving around. It's the perfect way to start a day. According to Wikipedia, This was Blakey's first album for Blue Note in several years, after a period of recording for a number of different labels, and marked both a homecoming and a fresh start. Originally the LP was self-titled, but the instant popularity of the bluesy opening track "Moanin'" (by pianist Bobby Timmons) led to its becoming known by that title.
Originally released in 1959 on the Blue Note label, personnel include Art Blakey on drums, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor sax, the aforementioned Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass.
So sit back, but I dare you to try to relax. This is not one of those kind of jazz albums. And as always, turn up the volume!
I hope you enjoy this album as much as I do, even if your neighbors don't...
Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 is the first book I felt I should read from my Onerous Reading List. Perhaps because I have read it before, years ago, probably in high school. I felt is was a way to ease into the task of the list.
I read this passage this morning as I started my day, and wanted to share it. Although the book was published in 1953, it still holds the same truths today. Bradbury wrote it as a warning, and one that we have apparently taken for granted.
Fight Evil, Read Books!
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He is generally considered to have been a master of quick wit and one of America's greatest comedians. He made 13 feature films as a team with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. (from Wikipedia)
He is high on my list of personal heroes. One of my goals in life is to make sure more people know who he was and how much influence he and his brothers were on modern comedy.
Song for My Father - Horace Silver
Okay, I'm trying something new. I love music. All kinds of music, except for what passes for country nowadays. I also love to share music that influences my writing and creativity in general. I go through phases. One week I will listen to The Decemberists, the next Max Richter or Alexander Balanescu. This week, though, it's Jazz.
A long time ago, I wanted to be a DJ. Not like DJs today, playing at raves and clubs. A radio DJ, playing jazz in the wee hours of the night. That which was inside me at age 20 is still there. Maybe some day there will be independent, non-automated, radio stations. There are still a few left I am sure.
Each week I will feature an album or artist playlist that I feel the need to share. Please feel free to opine in the comments below.
Today, for the initial playlist entry, I present to you Song for My Father by Horace Silver. It was recorded in 1965 and personnel include Horace Silver on piano, Joe Henderson on tenor sax, Gene Taylor on bass, and Roy Brooks on Drums. The melodies may sound slightly familiar. This album influenced Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder. I'm sure you know the songs to which I am referring.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And please, turn up the volume...