Sunday, 22 July 2007

Idealizing, Part II.

From Always Merry and Bright: The Life of Henry Miller:

'Typically, during the years that Henry was catching the clap and learning about women from burlesque, he also built up an intense idealism about love and was always looking for a woman to worship. His mother always told him how much he had adored her, and he seemed to be seeking another woman to serve. Cora Seward, a schoolmate at Eastern District High, seemed to meet his need fully. He was thoroughly intimidated at first glance by the physical Cora - with her firm upstanding breasts, full mouth, and apple blossom cheeks - but he was completely annihilated by the image of her which his yearnings created. She seemed too perfect ever to be possessed. Everything about her appeared radiant, romantic and distant; her porcelain blue eyes shimmered like icebergs, mirrors of her Arctic soul; her hair was perfectly blonde, like Guinevere's in The Idylls of the King. He was as helpless as Galahad. . . All he wanted to do was adore her from afar.

'Though the other boys thought it easy to jump in front of her and give her a squeeze in the dark before she could resist, Henry could never treat Cora in that common way. He made no progress in his love affair: he really didn't want to make any. After all, for sex there were plenty of beery old sluts slinking around Herald Square - Henry needed a woman to worship.

'In the summer of that year, Cora went to Asbury park with her family while Henry began his drudgery at Atlas Cement. With Cora physically removed, he liked her all the better, and he wrote long, serious letters to her. She answered him only a few times during this bitter season, but whether or not a letter waited on the mantelpiece for him, he experienced a lot of romantic anguish.

'Several times he had the same dream. He and Cora, a perfect Cora, were at a party together. As usual, Henry played hard to get, ignored her and even treated her disdainfully, until George Wright announced that Cora, disgusted with his behaviour, had fled the house. Wild with grief, Henry rushed out to bring her back. But it was too late! Repeated, the dream became wearisome. Worse, the dream was true - Henry was driving her away. He said that he wanted Cora, but he wanted a divine ideal; he could not accept the fleshly Cora and rejected her by his reverence.'

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