“Everything that happens, when it has significance, is in the nature of contradiction. I imagined that somewhere outside, in life, lay the solution to all things. I found that what I had desired all my life was not to live – if what others are doing is called living – but to express myself. I realized that I had never the least interest in living, but only in this which i am doing now, something which is parallel to life, of it at the same time, and beyond it. Wether I die today or tomorrow is of no importance to me, never has been. 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… Suddenly you are in a city that you never expect to be in again and you have only to pass the night there, but it takes all the courage in the World to do so. The people are of the same race as you, they go about their business as people do anywhere, they build the same sort of house, no better, no worse, they have the same system of education, the same currency even, and yet, they are absolutely different from the other people you know, and the whole atmosphere is different, the tension is different. It’s almost like looking at yourself in another incarnation. You know, with a most disturbing certitude, that what governs life is not money, not politics, not religion, not training, not race, not language, not customs, but something else, something you are trying to throttle all the time and which is really throttling you, because otherwise you woulnd’t be wondering how you were going to escape. This bridge is the end, the end of me, the end of my known world. This bridge is insanity, there is no reason why it should stand there and no reason why people should cross it. People everywhere are producing crops and goods for other people – and I am like a ghost sliding between all this unintelligible activity. I want to find some kind of work, but I don’t want to be a part of this thing, this infernal automatic process. I was a contradiction in essence, as they say. People took me to be serious and strong-minded, or to be happy and reckless, or to be sincere and earnest, or to be negligent and carefree. I was all these things at once – and beyond that I was something else. I searched the known and the yet unknown world and all the answers are over the bridge, that binds all that is true with what is real with what is imaginary and what is going to be. At this point nothing is hardly enough. At the point of rock bottom, at the point of peak, in any isolating true moment, music is very important. Music is a tonic for the pineal gland. It is the can-opener of the soul. It makes you terribly quiet inside, makes you aware that there’s a roof to your being.”
Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller.
Tropic of Capricorn is a semi-autobiographical novel by Henry Miller, first published in Paris in 1938.
The novel was subsequently banned in the United States until a 1961 Justice Department ruling declared that its contents were not obscene.