A new world is being born, a new type of man is in the bud. The great mass of men, destined now to suffer more cruelly perhaps than man has ever suffered before, have become paralyzed with fear, have withdrawn into their own shell-shocked souls, and neither hear, see nor feel, except in relation to the daily needs of the body. The body, which was once the temple, has become a living tomb. The body has lost its relation to the world in which it moves. It is in this way that a world dies.
Henry Miller, The World Of Sex (1940?), available in Henry Miller, On Writing. In French, this is translated as (extrait de Le monde du sexe, Buchet/Chastel, 1968):
Un nouveau monde est en train de naître, un nouveau type d’homme bourgeonne aujourd’hui. La grande masse de l’humanité, destinée de nos jours a souffrir plus cruellement peut-être que jamais, finit par être paralysée de peur, s’est repliée sur elle-même, ébranlée jusqu’à lâme, et n’entend, ne voit, ne sent plus rien que sous le rapport des urgences quotidiennes du corps. Le corps jadis temple, est devenu tombeau vivant. Le corps a perdu toute attache avec le monde au sein duquel il se meut. Et c’est ainsi que meurent les mondes.
I have just started reading the essay, putting it aside only to share this quote and what it evokes. If I am not sure to understand what this ‘new world being born’ could be, or who his ‘new type of man’ will be — not even sure there could be any — the body as a living tomb sure does resonate with me.
Have you ever wandered in a modern cemetery? A few years ago I liked doing that, a lot. Modern cemeteries are so square and dull, so sad too, and so empty despite them being filled with tombs neatly arranged one next to the other. Not one stepping out of line. Tombs often richly adorned, like if one was trying to compensate in death for the emptiness of existence in one’s lifetime. Or to apologize for it?
Adorning and neatly organizing, is it not something many of us dream to achieve in every aspect of life? Even in sex — too often, the only living portion — so many people like it to be organized, and tidy, with neat little labels to avoid confusion. I am this, and I like to do that, what about you?
As a remedy to these dull but tidy modern cemeteries, one needs to take a (long) walk, or two or many more, in le cimetière du Père-Lachaise, in Paris. Once you step out the more modern part of le Père-Lachaise, chaos and poetry slowly explode. Order and labels disappear to make room for life itself. Life that is blooming everywhere you look, always in unexpected ways. Le Père-Lachaise is an amazing place, maybe not because of the famous people that are buried there but because it is so easy to get lost in it, and to be surprised. Every single time.