By Alex Rivera
Over the last two weeks I have had the pleasure of reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn. Like much of his work, the novel can barely be said to follow any kind of plot or contain any universal theme. Rather, the book tracks the manic chains of thought and acts of debaucheries that comprise the ingenious and chaotic enigma that is Henry Miller. As a young, married man hiring and firing for a dying telegraph company in the 1920s, Miller interacts with and comes to befriend many of the city’s most disenfranchised, insane, desperate, and dangerous figures. As the protagonist and narrator of the story Miller himself represents an artist and a modernist. He is truly indifferent to, yet utterly capable of discerning, the world around him. One day he steals change from a blind beggar for beer, the next he gives away his paycheck to a spoiled kid with a sad story, whilst all the while hardly having clothes on his own back. In another instance, rather than obey his boss and fire a down on his luck, impaired thief for being Jewish, he is willingly fired himself. However, in the next moment he is seducing and violating his young neighbor whilst she cares for his ill wife. Miller is therefore truly removed from moral boundaries, and free from any obligations. From this standing he observes and dissects his own being and society through his surroundings, current essence, and past. Beyond recommending this book, I would deem Miller’s genius a necessity to anyone who would consider himself or herself a critic, thinker, or artist.