Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

American Writer, Novelist and Painter

"All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience."

"Ideas have to be wedded to action; if there is no sex, no vitality in them, there is no action. Ideas cannot exist alone in the vacuum of the mind. Ideas are related to living... Warrior, jailer, priest - the eternal trinity which symbolizes our fear of life."

"No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in."

"No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which any one can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our own guidance."

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."

"Remorse is impotent; it will sin again. Only repentance is strong; it can end everything."

"I struggled in the beginning. I said I was going to write the truth, so help me God. And I thought I was. I found I couldn't. Nobody can write the absolute truth."

"In expanding the field of knowledge we but increase the horizon of ignorance."

"It's good to be just plain happy; it's a little better to know that you're happy; but to understand that you're happy and to know why and how and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss."

"The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble."

"The greatest miracle is the discovery that all is miraculous. And the nature of the miraculous is- utter simplicity."

"We kill because we are afraid of our own shadow, afraid that if we used a little common sense we'd have to admit that our glorious principles were wrong."

"Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life."

"An artist is primarily one who has faith in himself. He does not respond to the normal stimuli: he is neither a drudge nor a parasite. He lives to express himself and in so doing enriches the world."

"How different the new order would be if we could consult the veteran instead of the politician."

"The real enemy can always be met and conquered, or won over. Real antagonism is based on love, a love which has not recognized itself."

"Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement."

"Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has not other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."

"The buzz of the mosquito can drown out the ocean's roar."

"The earth is a Paradise, the only one we will ever know. We will realize it the moment we open our eyes. We don't have to make it a Paradise - it is one. We have only to make ourselves fit to inhabit it."

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

"The moment one is on the side of life "peace and security" drop out of consciousness. The only peace, the only security, is in fulfillment."

"The study of crime begins with the knowledge of oneself."

"The poem is the dream made flesh, in a two-fold sense: a work of art, and as life, which is a work of art."

"The word which gives the key to the national vice is waste."

"The more one penetrates the realm of knowledge the more puzzling everything becomes."

"The world is not to be put in order, the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order."

"We do not talk - we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests."

"We have two American flags always; one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it it means danger, revolution, anarchy."

"Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself."

"Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become the path himself."

"Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."

"When one is trying to do something beyond his known powers it is useless to seek the approval of friends. Friends are at their best in moments of defeat."

"We live at the edge of the miraculous."

"The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love."

"The only law which is really lived up to wholeheartedly and with a vengeance is the law of conformity."

"Until we accept the fact that life itself is founded in mystery, we shall learn nothing."

"The ordinary man is involved in action; the hero acts - an immense difference."

"Develop an interest in life as you see it - the people, things, literature, music. The world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people. Forget yourself."

"An artist earns the right to call himself a creator only when he admits to himself that he is but an instrument."

"It is the American vice, the democratic disease which expresses its tyranny by reducing everything unique to the level of the herd."

"If there is to be any peace, it will come through being, not having."

"Instead of asking – 'How much damage will the work in question bring about?' why not ask 'How much good? How much joy?’"

"Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning."

"There are lone figures armed only with ideas, sometimes with just one idea, who blast away whole epochs in which we are enwrapped like mummies. Some are powerful enough to resurrect the dead. Some steal on us unawares and put a spell over us which it takes centuries to throw off. Some put a curse on us, for our stupidity and inertia, and then it seems as if God himself were unable to lift it."

"Living apart and at peace with myself, I came to realize more vividly the meaning of the doctrine of acceptance. To refrain from giving advice, to refrain from meddling in the affairs of others, to refrain, even though the motives be the highest, from tampering with another's way of life - so simple, yet so difficult for an active spirit. Hands off!"

"Most men tend to imprison themselves without the help of authorities."

"Until we lose ourselves, there is no hope of finding ourselves."

"True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself."

"There is the happiness which comes from creative effort. The joy of dreaming, creating, building, whether in painting a picture, writing an epic, singing a song, composing a symphony, devising new invention, creating a vast industry."