Every couple of months I would pull out the briefcase and re-read the materials and each time I saw more of the story that threaded it.
What I heard was the voice of Henry busting into his life, sparks of genius and opinionated blustering, made audible by the white- space, a one-man audience named Emil whose heart and mind were generous and deep enough to hold the millions of imagined ‘others’ that Miller was addressing, even in his unpublished days. ‘Dear Emil ‘and the pipeline was open. Emil was the perfect audience, the oracle whose attention helped a gob of spit become a voice.
When I heard that the Henry Miller Library had purchased the Emil Schnellock collection I was curious- what part of the story was I missing? And that’s how I came to be driving up the Coast highway in late October 2011 after 3 days on the UCLA campus in the Charles Young Library Special Collections room where I perused the Henry Miller Collection. My drive north through fog was a continuation of the séance taking place in my head after reading through decades of letters between the two old friends- exquisite corpses both.
In my own reflection on posterity now that I’m around the age of Henry when he became known as the sage of Big Sur, I know that what we hold holds us. As a multi-media artist, who turned 40 with Henry (through his books, essays, and letters to Emil published in 1988/New Directions, which I dragged all over Paris looking for my own voice in 1996) and Emil (through his mysterious absent-presence and personal struggles around responsibility and freedom, as well as the legacy that came to me due to the fact that of the 4 Schnellock siblings, none had children and I became heir) I was compelled to mine this archive and put it through the art crucible. So much of what they wrote was earmarked for posterity – and here we are, posterity.