Henry Miller’s Destination


In Chapter 9 of Nexus, Henry and Osiecki are looking for a place to drink. It’s Osiecki’s birthday. Henry didn’t want to come out, but Osiecki offered him a bite to eat, and he couldn’t turn that down. He eats a sandwich and drinks three cups of coffee before they really hit the town.

A cab comes by. “Looking for a place?” asks the driver, and the two men get in. Henry isn’t too happy: he doesn’t like the idea of getting into a cab to “destination unknown.”

It struck me as strange to read this, to think that Henry Miller was ever troubled by a momentary loss of control, that it would trouble him to put his life into the hands of a cab driver. But now it makes sense to me.

It seemed strange because Henry Miller can seem like the writer of “going with the flow.” He’s all about acceptance of fate, for better or worse, and the fact that you can never know to what heights misfortune can take you. And indeed, he gets a good story out of this adventure, which he goes on to relate in the chapter.

But of course, half of Henry Miller’s life-story is that he always knew where he was headed. For all the ups and downs, he knew he would be a writer one day, provided he could keep body and mind together. He wasn’t following fate blindly, but always on alert for opportunities that were thrown up at him. So it shouldn’t be surprising that, since he’d already got what he needed that night – the sandwich and coffee required to keep going – he wasn’t too keen on this mysterious cab headed for who knew where.

As I’ve said, Miller did in fact get a good story out of the experience. But at the time he hadn’t even figured out how to write yet: he was still attempting to write fiction and hadn’t even thought of writing about himself. He had only the vaguest idea of the direction his own life was taking him – his goal to reach the mysterious state of being a writer. And he was always wary that a misstep would finish him before he even reached his destination. So it’s not surprising he was nervous about that enigmatic cab driver.

(Image is from Pixabay.)

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