Diagnosis for the Modern Man, 1962

I’ve been reading Stand Still Like the Hummingbird by Henry Miller. It is a compilation of essays, many of which have a unique philosophical and almost motivational flare; so much so that I wish he had started a religion instead of L. Ron Hubbard. Here’s an example of what he was on about way back in 1962:

…the American is incapable even of enjoying the little which is permitted him…I mean, his physical wealth. His car may take him wherever he wishes to go, but what is he met with on arriving at his destination? If it is a restaurant, the food is usually unpalatable; if it is a theater, the spectacle bores him; if it is a resort, there is nothing to do but drink. If he remains home with his friends, the conversation soon degenerates into a ridiculous argument, such as schoolboys enjoy, or peters out. The art of living alone, or with one’s neighbors, is unknown. The American is an unsocial being who seems to find enjoyment only in the bottle or with his machines. He worships success, but on attaining it he is more miserable than ever.

The remedy? Well I’m not even halfway through the book, but I’ll let you know when I find out. Based on the earlier pieces, I’d wager that the answer is something he declares on page 13:

No, happiness is desirable, but it is a by-product, the result of a way of life, not a goal which is forever beyond one’s grasp. Happiness is achieved en route. And if it be ephemeral, as most men believe, it can also give way, not to anxiety or despair, but to a joyousness which is serene and lasting. To make happiness the goal is to kill it in advance.

By the way, you can read the whole thing at Google Books.

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