Henry Miller: Who Put the Demons There?

"A billion men seeking peace cannot be enslaved. We have enslaved ourselves, by our own petty, circumscribed view of life. It is glorious to offer one's life for a cause, but dead men accomplish nothing. Life demands that we offer something more -- spirit, soul, intelligence, good will. . . . War is only a vast manifestation in dramatic style of the sham, hollow, mock conflicts which take place daily everywhere even in so-called times of peace. Every man contributes his bit to keep the carnage going, even those who seem to be staying aloof. . . . Nothing can bring about a new and better world but our desire for it. Man kills through fear -- and fear is hydra-headed. Once we start slaying there is no end to it. An eternity would not suffice to vanquish the demons who torture us. Who put the demons there? That is for each one to ask himself. Let each man search his own heart. Neither God nor the Devil is responsible, and certainly not such puny monsters as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin et alia. Certainly not such bugaboos as Catholicism, Capitalism, Communism. Who put the demons in our heart to torture us?"

- Henry Miller, "Epidaurus and Mycenae," in The Henry Miller Reader (New Directions, 1959)


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