Tropic of Cancer: SFW quotes

Despite what my review suggested, it’s actually pretty easy to find quotes in Tropic of Cancer that wouldn’t draw the attention of the Parents Television Council (or whatever the book version of them is.)

“When into the womb of time everything is again withdrawn, chaos will be restored and chaos is the score upon which reality is written.”

“For a hundred years or more the world, our world, has been dying. And not one man, in these last hundred years or so, has been crazy enough to put a bomb up the asshole of creation and set it off.”

“New York makes even a rich man feel his unimportance. New York is cold, glittering, malign. ย The buildings dominate.ย  There is a sort of atomic frenzy to the activity going on; the more furious the pace, the more diminished the spirit. ย A constant ferment, but it might just as well be going on in a test tube. ย Nobody knows what it’s all about. ย Nobody directs the energy. ย Stupendous. Bizarre. ย Baffling. ย A tremendous reactive urge, but absolutely uncoordinated.”

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Tropic of Cancer is totally NSFW

Henry Miller would have loved the Internet.

I don’t mean like role-playing games or white text on black MS DOS screens, for which he was, technically speaking, still alive. I mean like today’s Internet, all self-absorbed and indulgent like it is. All “this is what I ate for breakfast, and this is who I hung out with, and this is the boring shit we did.” That Internet Henry Miller would have been all about.

It’s actually a fun activity to read books written before 1950 and mine them for unintentionally prescient quotes. Tropic of Cancer, the seminalโ€”trust me, semen-sounding words will not be the raunchiest elements of this postโ€”autobiographical novel from Miller, is full of these kinds of snippets, lines like “so fast and furiously am I compelled to live now that there is scarcely time to record even these fragmentary notes.” Seriously, the man would have loved Twitter.

I had few expectations going into Tropic of Cancer, about which I knew essentially two things: (1) It is perhaps the most banned book of all time, whose 1934 publishing predated its actual release in the U.S. by nearly 30 years, and (2) there’s a boob on the cover. And honestly, I think some part of me figured that 1934 smut couldn’t possibly be 2011 smut; like maybe Miller would talk about how he had “lain” with some ladies, or kicked it with a few prostitutes, but that’s it. Hilariously, however, my illusions about this book’s PG-13 rating were dispelled somewhere around page 5 (fahreals NSFW):

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