TITLE: Without Wonder, Without Awe AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 07, 2016 10:55 AM DESC: ----- BODY: Henry Miller, in "The Books in My Life" (1969):
Every day of his life the common man makes use of what men in other ages would have deemed miraculous means. In the range of invention, if not in powers of invention, the man of today is nearer to being a god than at any time in history. (So we like to believe!) Yet never was he less godlike. He accepts and utilizes the miraculous gifts of science unquestioningly; he is without wonder, without awe, reverence, zest, vitality, or joy. He draws no conclusions from the past, has no peace or satisfaction in the present, and is utterly unconcerned about the future. He is marking time.
It's curious to me that this was written around the same time as Stewart Brand's clarion call that we are as gods. The zeitgeist of the 1960s, perhaps. "The Books in My Life" really has been an unexpected gift. As I noted back in November, I picked it up on a lark after reading a Paris Review interview with Miller, and have been reading it off and on since. Even though he writes mostly of books and authors I know little about, his personal reflections and writing style click with me. Occasionally, I pick up one of the books he discusses, ost recently Richard Jefferies's The Story of My Heart. When other parts of the world seem out of sync, picking up the right book can change everything. -----