Wheel of Fortune in literature

Tarot of the Spirit

“The world would only begin to get something out of value from me the moment I stopped being a serious member of society and became – myself. The State, the nation, the united nations of the world, were nothing but one great aggregation of individuals who repeated the mistakes of their forefathers. They were caught in the wheel from birth and they kept at it till death – and this treadmill they tried to dignify by calling it ‘life’. If you asked anyone to explain or define life, what was the be-all and end-all, you got a blank look for answer. Life was something which philosophers dealt with in books that no one read. Those in the thick of life, ‘the plugs in harness’, had no time for such idle questions. ‘You’ve got to eat, haven’t you?‘ This query, which was supposed to be a stopgap, and which had already been answered, if not in the absolute negative at least in a disturbingly relative negative by those who knew, was a clue to all the other questions which followed in a veritable Euclidean suite. From the little reading I had done I had observed that the men who were most in life, who were moulding life, who were life itself, ate little, slept little, owned little or nothing. They had no illusions about duty, or the perpetuation of their kith and kin, or the preservation of the State. They were interested in truth and truth alone. They recognised only one kind of activity – creation. Nobody could command their services because they had of their own pledged themselves to give all. They gave gratuitously, because it is the only way to give. This was they way of life which appealed to me: it made sound sense. It was life – not the simulacrum which those about me worshipped.” Henry Miller – Sexus

Actually, aside from the Wheel, there’s quite a few other Major Arcana showing up in the above paragraph – Death, The Fool, The World, The Emperor, The Hanged Man… I know there must be thousands of literary examples of the Wheel, but this one really caught my eye today.


4 thoughts on “Wheel of Fortune in literature

  1. Magic Mentha April 23, 2011 / 8:32 pm

    My instinct is to say, ‘Whoaaa, man. That’s deep.’

    But seriously…what a profound thought!

    Makes me feel all pathetic and materialistic in comparison. Not to mention insecure and petty…but these are sort of the human condition. I do hope to get to more of a place that this excerpt describes at some point but I feel like what happens before that point is equally important?

    Well, I also kind of love sleeping. Now that my sleep is so fucked up I really miss luxuriant sleep and self care. Sometimes I think there is a certain wisdom in hedonism. Then again, without the struggle and removal of the things that once comforted me I wouldn’t grow.

    Time to turn in!!!!


    • Monica April 25, 2011 / 9:12 pm

      Yeah, pretty good eh. Actually I agree with you on sleeping. And given that Mr Miller enjoyed good food and sex whenever he could, I’m not sure he’d disagree with a good night’s sleep either, despite saying otherwise above. I think despite the heavy theme of sex in his books, they were more about awakening and living life richly and deeply, shunning the mediocrity of suburbia and a regular job for a wilder life lived free. Not for everyone though!

  2. Digital Dame April 24, 2011 / 1:27 pm

    What a wonderful find! I wonder how many references like this I’ve run across… and missed the Tarot connection? I’ll have to be more alert.

    Reminds me of the saying by Buddha, that desire is the root of all suffering.

    • Monica April 25, 2011 / 9:16 pm

      Yes tarot is everywhere 🙂 One day I’m writing about crystals, next about literature…. Funny thing about desire is Henry Miller certainly desired a lot, especially the physical pleasures. His desires were more those of a seeker drunk on life rather than mainstream materialistic though.

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