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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Henry Miller in Livorno

Today we escaped the Florentine heat. Traveling with two Germans through the public transportation system was cause for some minor irritations on their part (why is the que so long and only two windows open? This train is 15 minutes late?! Eh Italians...) but we soon settled into my first air conditioned compartment since arriving in Italy. What a relief! The 1.45h trip to Livorno was a teasing look at the countryside: beautiful open fields, Cyprus and shimmering silver leafed trees conceiling ochre buildings flew by at a rumbling pace. After a short bus ride from the station we were soon burying our toes in the pebble studded sand, already collecting multicolored unicorn shells. Be weary of picking them up IN the water though. Little protruding toes from a live crab still inhabiting his home are quite startling.

I had brought my watercolors with me with every intention of creating little postcard sized paintings of the Mediterranean. I could probably blame my lack of artistic inspiration on the harsh light sucking away color in it's dramatizing of contrast between reflection and watery depths. But really it was because I had picked up "Henry Miller on Writing." Not exactly your typical "light" beach read. Yet his articulate bluntness and character of critical thought grabbed my gut with a death grip. Instead of painting I feasted on his words til the sun began to set and we had to catch the train back to Florence. And even then, as now, his words remained with me. I wanted to laugh and weep and run around screaming, simultaneously. So my art inspiration for the day will be to share a passage from "Why Don't You Try to Write?" that particularly spoke to me.

"Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." p. 25 from "Henry Miller on Writing."


  1. UGH. WOW. Brookie...I'll run around with you screaming, weeping, and laughing over that one!!
    Thank you so much for writing this blog- I check it regularly and always think that you are as talented a writer and philosopher as you are an artist...(extremely that is).

  2. Couldn't agree more with the last line of the previous comment. As I read this post, I thought "She ought to be a writer!"