Miller was not a Geologist nor was he the ‘last invader.’ Discuss.

bs and oranges2Henry Miller’s “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch” is the quintessential love-letter to Big Sur.

The book is replete with countless gorgeous passages speaking to the area’s natural beauty and the wonderful people who lived here back in the salad days of the 40s and 50s.

Here’s Henry, upon first setting eyes on Big Sur:

“When I first beheld this wonderous region I thought to myself — “Here I will find peace. Here I shall find the strength to do the work I was made to do.”

Further — and this, I believe, is the most succinct and accurate approximation of Big Sur I’ve yet to come across — he describes the area’s “magnetic, healing ambiance.”

He also talks about the concept of the “last invader,” the idea that those living in Big Sur at the time represented the last wave of settlers to the reason. Echoing a distinctly American strain, Miller alludes to the imagesprelapsarian impulse encoded in our DNA, the idea that we must preserve this peace and solitude at all costs and not let anyone else in to ruin it.  (Ed: no one bothered to ask the Native Americans about their opinion on this.)

Our point? Miller’s ability to encapsulate the essence of the area cannot be surpassed. His ability at predicting the future, however, leave a bit to be desired.

Towards the end of “Oranges” — on page 403, to be exact — he talks about how he gazes out into Big Sur’s barren, rolling hills and valleys and envisions…Greece, noting:

“I sometimes think how wonderful will be the day when all these mountain sides are filled with habitations, when the slopes are terraced with fields, when flowers bursts forth everywhere [Ed: no word on if he envisioned an "In n' Out"]

“I picture….colossal stairways curving down to the sea where boats lie at anchor….I hear laughter like pealing rapids, rising from thousands of jubilant throats.

“I can visualized multitudes living where now there are only a few scattered families. There is room here for thousands upon thousands to come. It could happen, in fact, in a very few years from now. What we dream is the reality of tomorrow [Ed. This is not true. A dream is just a dream.]

We could go on, but you get the point. We love Henry for his boisterous irrepressible spirit and frquent forays into optimistic thinking, but while he may have been a Bohemian/Metaphysicalist/etc. bar none, he, alas, wasn’t a geologist.

In fact, by the time you finishing reading this blog, Bixby Bridge will have sunk 18.5 feet into the hillside.  JK y’all.

In closing, fifty years on, Miller’s vision of a crowded, bustling Mediterranean Eden have yet to come to past. Mother Nature had the last word. Simply put, given the region’s rugged landscape, further development is, geologically speaking, impossible. (This is lamentable because the In n’ Out in Seaside isn’t set to open until November at the earliest.)

Well! Looks like we’ll just have to settle for a still-relatively-under-developed, but nonetheless-increasingly-crowded Eden for the time being!

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Support the Henry Miller Library, a 501 c 3 nonprofit arts organization (for as little as $2 a month) by joining The Digest!

The Henry Miller Library, a 501 c 3 nonprofit arts organization that exists thanks to YOUR support. So why not sign up for the exclusive HML Monthly Digest?!
For as little as $2 (!) a month you’ll get “early-bird specials” for select events, rare video and photos, and more! (You don’t need a Paypal account to sign up!)

Click here to sign up:

May’s Digest, for example, included a discount on the “Emil White of Big Sur” book, an essay on Miller’s “Black Spring,” a rare vide of Jonathan Richman at the Library (circa 2010), pics of Magnus digging up a sewer pipe and Morgan with her pet spiders, and MORE!

Get in with the in crowd today – and better yet, share this with you friends!  It’s all for a great cause!  Thanks!

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June 12 and 13 at HML – A benefit for Ventana Wildlife Society’s Big Sur Condor Project w/ screening of “It’s a Wild Life!”

$15 tickets available here!


A benefit for Ventana Wildlife Society’s Big Sur Condor Project feature film showing of Kennan & Karen Ward’s It’s A Wild Life all about Big Sur and the local Monterey Bay! Condors, Bobcats and our magnificent coast filmed over the last 7 years!

Kennan and Karen Ward stayed in Big Sur for over six years, mainly at Big Creek, to do this portait. The result is stunning.

Please come and sit back under the redwoods for what will be a truly wild story. (In part told by Feynner Arias!)

In the film we’ll see the remote wilderness where a family of endangered condors raise a chick high in a redwood tree, witness a one-eyed bobcat as she learns new hunting techniques in a struggle to survive…

Experience the beauty of this wild coast with a man who has made this rugged environment his home for thirty years.

Discover the unique and hidden secrets of this wild land we call Big Sur!

VIP Ticket includes: bottle of wine, Reading the Wild by Bev Doolittle, a raffle ticket, and more. The night will include presentations by filmmaker Kennan Ward and VWS’ Joe Burnett, a silent auction and a raffle.

“You haven’t seen Big Sur until you have seen this movie.” US Congressman, Sam Farr Representing California’s Central Coast stated!

$15.00 Very limited seating! * Please carpool.

No need to print out tickets; it will be will call, so just bring your ID.

Bring your own snacks and drinks if you like. We have coffee, tea and our famous Pop Corn.

To learn more about this fantastic film, please visit the film’s Facebook page and


* We have very limited seating due to the new rule

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June 14th (TWO events!) at the Henry Miller Library: Jerry Cimino of the Beat Museum!

On Sundays from July through September 2015, the Henry Miller Memorial Library will host some of the country’s most accomplished authors, artists, journalists, and thinkers in its new “Under the Persimmon Tree” series!

June 14th features Jerry Cimino, founder and director of San Francisco’s inimitable Beat Museum!

Jerry will be presenting both an afternoon and evening session at The Henry Miller Memorial Library on June 14th:

4pm Session: “The Beat Generation in America”
Though they met in New York City, the Beat Generation gained international fame here on the west coast in 1957. How the Beat Generation influenced American culture and how that influence spread around the world.
Discussion and reading performance with Q&A.
This event is by donation. For more information and to reserve your spot, click here.
7:30 Session: “This is The Beat Generation”
In a multimedia performance, Jerry Cimino, The Director of The Beat Museum in San Francisco, will tell the story of The Beat Generation, how they met, lived, loved and wrote along with who they influenced and how they changed the world. Photos, stories, readings and movie clips.


This event is also by donation. For more information and to reserve your spot, click here.
The Henry Miller Memorial Library is located in the heart of Big Sur, 25 miles south of Carmel and ¼ miles south of Nepenthe restaurant on Highway 1.     Questions?  Call us! 831-667-2574.
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Henry Gets Surreal: On the Artistic Achievement That is “Into the NIght Life”

Israeli artist nightlife1Betzalel Schatz’s wife was the sister of Henry Miller’s fourth wife, Eve. Years before Schatz had lived in Big Sur and had collaborated with Miller on “Into the Night Life,” the hand-printed art book for which Henry wrote directly on the silk screens and Schatz created the artwork.

The project was — and remains! — a historic and innovative artistic achievement.

A master serigrapher, Schatz printed enough pages for 800 copies of the book, but only 200 were initially bound. As the story goes, upon finishing the book, they exuberantly drove to Hollywood and sold the first copy to Will Rogers!

The book represened a departure in book-making. Two hundred and forty stencils were made in order to reproduce the conents of the eighty pages which comprise the book. For some of the double pages, which are paintings in themselves, as many as twenty colors were used. The text alone covers 51 pages and, as noted, are in Miller’s own handwriting.

Betzalel Schatz

Betzalel Schatz

The text was taken from Henry’s “Black Spring,” which was first published in Paris in 1936 and subsquently reprinted in “The Cosmological Eye.” The text was chosen because of its imagistic style and because it lent itself to imaginative treatment by the artist. The text is full of archaic symbols and images, as well as childhood souveniers, all poetically rendered.

In true surrealist form, rather than having a title for each painting, the painting is simply paired with Miller’s text, on the opposing page, from “Black Spring.”

Here is the corresponding text to one painting:

“Where am I to lay my head if there is nothing but bears and mackintoshes and peanut whistles and broken slats? Am I to walk forever along this endless pasteboard street, this pasteboard that I can punch a hole in, which I can blow down with my breath, which I can set fire to with a match? The world has become a mystic maze erected by a gang of carpenters during the night. Everything is a lie, fake. Pasteboard”


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great write-up in the Monterey County Weekly for the Patchy Sanders show, this Thursday, May 7th at 7:30 pm at the Henry Miller Library!

“Patchy Sanders does have a few straight-forward bluegrass numbers that could keep a crowd of the strictest purists happy. The full-throttle banjo-propelled “Darkest Skarlet Wild Rose” is a smoking whirlwind of southern hospitality and sweet harmonies, straight out of the Doc Watson playbook.”

Read the whole thing!!  Reserve your spot here!


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May 17th at the Henry Miller Library – Robinson Jeffers in Big Sur: A Celebration of an American Poet!


A celebration of a major American poet and the rugged Big Sur coast that inspired him.

This celebration of the power and beauty of Big Sur and the poet who wrote most vividly about it is for anyone who has never heard of Robinson Jeffers.

It’s for anyone who has heard of Jeffers, but has never read or heard a Jeffers poem. It’s for those who have read some Jeffers but didn’t get what he was trying to say.

And of course, it’s for those who LOVE Jeffers’ poetry because his keen observations of the natural world and his passion for preserving it touches something deep within. (Photo courtesy of the Tor House Foundation.)

Come hear poems describing Jeffers’ early encounters with rugged Big Sur read by local treasure and teller of tales Taelen Thomas, well-known for his depictions of Mark Twain, Jack London, John Steinbeck, Dylan Thomas and many others.

Enjoy music by singer/guitarist Alisa Fineman and flautist Elise Rotchford. If you’re a Big Sur history buff, pore over historical photographs predating Highway One, mounted side-by-side with Jeffers poems describing those places.

Members of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance are eager to discuss the enormous influence the prophetic Jeffers had on the early environmental movement.

And to all local artists and photographers: You are invited to display and, if you wish, sell Big Sur-inspired paintings, prints, and photographs.

If you or your organization is interested in being represented in any way in this afternoon of poetry, drama, visual arts, music and fellowship, please contact Jean Widaman at 238-5102 ( or Magnus Toren at 667-2574 (

The Henry Miller Memorial Library is located at  48603 Highway One, Big Sur, California; 25 miles south out of Carmel, 1/4 mile south of Nepenthe Restaurant.

Questions?  Call us at 831.667.2574.

And now, let’s let Jeffers speak for himself:


Robinson Jeffers

A little too abstract, a little too wise,
It is time for us to kiss the earth again,
It is time to let the leaves rain from the skies,
Let the rich life run to the roots again.
I will go to the lovely Sur Rivers
And dip my arms in them up to the shoulders.
I will find my accounting where the alder leaf quivers
In the ocean wind over the river boulders.
I will touch things and things and no more thoughts,
That breed like mouthless May-flies darkening the sky,
The insect clouds that blind our passionate hawks
So that they cannot strike, hardly can fly.
Things are the hawk’s food and noble is the mountain, Oh noble
Pico Blanco, steep sea-wave of marble.

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Check our our “Instagram,” yeah?

The Henry Miller Memorial Library: slowing and awkwardly crawling towards the 21st century!

Fans of the HMML know we have a blog, a Facebook, and even a Twitter.  Well guess what? Now we have an Instagram!

Go there, like us or whatever, GET YOUR THEO FIX, and please share your photos with us?

Who knows – now that we’re spending more time than ever on these digital networks perhaps, at long last, a sense of fulfillment and profound happiness will overwhelm us – just like all those commercials have promised!

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