Quotes by Henry Miller

Get quotes of the day


How do you feel today?    I feel ...

Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 June 7, 1980) was an American writer and, to a lesser extent, painter of German Catholic heritage. He is particularly known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of "novel" that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet is also an imaginative construct. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Black Spring. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis. more

Add to my favourites Get these quotes on a PDF
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.

A new world is not made simply by trying to forget the old. A new world is made with a new spirit, with new values. Our world may have begun that way, but today it is caricature. Our world is a world of things. What we dread most, in the face of the impending debacle, is that we shall be obliged to give up our gewgaws, our gadgets, all the little comforts that have made us so uncomfortable. We are not peaceful souls; we are smug, timid, queasy and quaky.
Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music -- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our own guidance.
An artist is always alone -- if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness.
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.
Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.
Madness is tonic and invigorating. It makes the sane more sane. The only ones who are unable to profit by it are the insane.
All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.
The real enemy can always be met and conquered, or won over. Real antagonism is based on love, a love which has not recognized itself.
I have never been able to look upon America as young and vital but rather as prematurely old, as a fruit which rotted before it had a chance to ripen.
Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. 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.
Why are we so full of restraint? Why do we not give in all directions? Is it fear of losing ourselves? Until we do lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves.
Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.
No one asks you to throw Mozart out of the window. Keep Mozart. Cherish him. Keep Moses too, and Buddha and Lao Tzu and Christ. Keep them in your heart. But make room for the others, the coming ones, the ones who are already scratching on the window-panes.
There is nothing strange about fear: no matter in what guise it presents itself it is something with which we are all so familiar that when a man appears who is without it we are at once enslaved by him.
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.
I see America spreading disaster. I see America as a black curse upon the world. I see a long night settling in and that mushroom which has poisoned the world withering at the roots.
True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself.
Whenever a taboo is broken, something good happens, something vitalizing. Taboos after all are only hangovers, the product of diseased minds, you might say, of fearsome people who hadn't the courage to live and who under the guise of morality and religion have imposed these things upon us.
Sin, guilt, neurosis --they are one and the same, the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Hope is a bad thing. It means that you are not what you want to be. It means that part of you is dead, if not all of you. It means that you entertain illusions. It's a sort of spiritual clap, I should say.
The dreamer whose dreams are non-utilitarian has no place in this world. In this world the poet is anathema, the thinker a fool, the artist an escapist, the man of vision a criminal.
The stabbing horror of life is not contained in calamities and disasters, because these things wake one up and one gets very familiar and intimate with them and finally they become tame again. No, it is more like being in a hotel room in Hoboken let us say, and just enough money in one's pocket for another meal.
Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not yet understood.
Civilization is drugs, alcohol, engines of war, prostitution, machines and machine slaves, low wages, bad food, bad taste, prisons, reformatories, lunatic asylums, divorce, perversion, brutal sports, suicides, infanticide, cinema, quackery, demagogy, strikes, lockouts, revolutions, putsches, colonization, electric chairs, guillotines, sabotage, floods, famine, disease, gangsters, money barons, horse racing, fashion shows, poodle dogs, chow dogs, Siamese cats, condoms, peccaries, syphilis, gonorrhea, insanity, neuroses, etc., etc.
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.
Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself.
The world is not to be put in order; the world is order, incarnate. It is for us to harmonize with this order.
Any genuine philosophy leads to action and from action back again to wonder, to the enduring fact of mystery.
We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.
One can be absolutely truthful and sincere even though admittedly the most outrageous liar. Fiction and invention are of the very fabric of life.
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.
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 world itself is pregnant with failure, is the perfect manifestation of imperfection, of the consciousness of failure.
What have we achieved in mowing down mountain ranges, harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or moving whole populations about like chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same restless, miserable, frustrated creatures we were before? To call such activity progress is utter delusion. We may succeed in altering the face of the earth until it is unrecognizable even to the Creator, but if we are unaffected wherein lies the meaning?
We do not talk -- we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests.
Instead of asking -- How much damage will the work in question bring about? why not ask -- How much good? How much joy?
Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life.
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.
If men cease to believe that they will one day become gods then they will surely become worms.
Life is constantly providing us with new funds, new resources, even when we are reduced to immobility. In life's ledger there is no such thing as frozen assets.
One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one.
The prisoner is not the one who has committed a crime, but the one who clings to his crime and lives it over and over.
The American white man (not to speak of the Indian, the Negro, the Mexican) hasn't a ghost of a chance. If he has any talent he's doomed to have it crushed one way or another. The American way is to seduce a man by bribery and make a prostitute of him. Or else to ignore him, starve him into submission and make a hack of him.
The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference.
It is the American vice, the democratic disease which expresses its tyranny by reducing everything unique to the level of the herd.
I have always looked upon decay as being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth.
In the attempt to defeat death man has been inevitably obliged to defeat life, for the two are inextricably related. Life moves on to death, and to deny one is to deny the other.
Honest criticism means nothing: what one wants is unrestrained passion, fire for fire.
Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.
Every man with a bellyful of the classics is an enemy to the human race.
Actually we are a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues, newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like. To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world besides the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this insane activity represents progress and enlightenment?
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.
We live in the mind, in ideas, in fragments. We no longer drink in the wild outer music of the streets -- we remember only.
When you know what men are capable of you marvel neither at their sublimity nor their baseness. There are no limits in either direction apparently.
Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement.
What holds the world together, as I have learned from bitter experience, is sexual intercourse.