Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

In “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare” (1945), on the roads across America, Henry Miller assaults modernity:

"This world which is in the making fills me with dread... It is a world suited for mono­maniacs obsessed with the idea of progress - but a false progress, a progress which stinks. It is a world cluttered with useless objects which men and women, in order to be exploited and degraded, are taught to regard as useful. The dreamer whose dreams are non-utilitarian has no place in this world. Whatever does not lend itself to being bought and sold, whether in the realm of things, ideas, principles, dreams, or hopes, is debarred. In this world the poet is anathema, the thinker a fool, the artist an escapist, the man of vision a crimi­nal."

Miller as primitive man, as stranger in a strange land: "We need their paper boxes, their but­tons, their synthetic furs, their rubber goods, their hosiery, their plastic this and that. We need the banker, his genius for taking our money and mak­ing himself rich. The insurance man, his policies, his talk of security, of divi­dends - we need him too. Do we? I don't see that we need any of these vultures."

All the more true in our postmodern high-tech world?…