"Everything we shut our eyes to,
everything we run away from,
everything we deny, denigrate or despise,
serves to defeat us in the end.
What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become
a source of beauty, joy, and strength,
if faced with an open mind."
by:
Henry Miller
(1891-1980) American writer
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Reader comments about this quote:
I'm not sure if I agree, at least I doubt if the last part is true, but the quote certainly does make me think!
 -- Maggie, Cuxhaven     
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    I believe the last part is quite relevant because the quote says 'can' become a source.... That's the part that struck me, and I have experienced too.
     -- Harry Siemens, Winkler     
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    Quotes of this caliber have to be true and empowering.This is an awesome quote.
     -- Anonymous, queensbury,NY.     
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    This quote lends insight into how hard it really is to be open minded. Many things that we think of as evil are really only the social constuction of the powerful and influencial. Open mindedness is hard; one will definitely break his/her original morals if one truely has an open mind.
     -- John Donich, Los Angeles     
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    I can truly appreciate this quote, as I have suffered through many situations that have compelled me to think completely about separate issues. And although many people do not wish to conform to the freedom had in examining things with an open mind, I am more than willing to do so!
     -- Odette     
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    Open eyes, open ears, open minds do not precuse closed mouths.
     -- JDoN, Michigan     
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     -- Anonymous      
    My first thought was that the ugliness of slavery usually doesn't work out very well in the long run for the slaveholders...and that ends up a beautiful thing.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    The quote is about dealing with problems and not sticking your head in the sand.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Considering this is coming from a literary pornographer, I'm pretty sure he's talking about some sexual perversions that are ever present in human society. Is pedophilia one of those nasty, painful, and evil things that can become beautiful if only we'd open our benighted minds? As an unbranded quote, it might rate three stars. Considering its author, one star.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Ken, said well
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    More wars and intolerance have been waged because of blatant ignorance. To seek to understand those whose ideas we find deplorable is better than to simply burn them at the stake. I would not expect a religious fundamentalist to agree. Miller doesn't say that we can see the beauty in genocide -- he says that by NOT shutting our eyes to it, it can be a SOURCE of beauty, joy and strength. If we stopped shutting our eyes to the tyranny in America, we might find the inspiration (joy and strength) to put a stop to it. As far as "literary pornagraphy" goes, I suppose it is evil to even IMAGINE two people having sex. Wow, talk about a ridiculous and denigrading ideology.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Miller was what he was: a pornographer. People who want to buy pornography are free to do so at their will and imagine anything they want. I refuse to call it beautiful, however. I won't call child abuse beautiful or joyful. I won't call any number of things a source of strength. I think you might be reading more into Millers quote than he intended. I do believe, however, that you must acknowledge with open eyes the ugly nature of human beings along with the good if you are ever going to deal with it. But at least, describe it accurately. Otherwise, you are just perpetuating a self-destructive lie.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Perhaps the best defense against such ideologies is thorough knowlege of them -- and the understanding of why people fall for them. The mind can handle the full spectrum without becoming beholden to the 'dark side...'
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Ken, you are ignorant, atleast as it pertains to this topic. What you have taken from Miller's work (assuming you've even completely read any of his works) is very narrow, superficial and distorted, which is much more indicative of you than it is of Miller or his work. What he's talking about in this quote, basically, is ideology and the indoctrination thereof. Take the words "anarchism" or "socialism", for example. "Ooooh ... Ahhhhh ... murmur," right? These are conditioned responses to concepts most have never intellectually researched for themselves, in an objective, non-biased way; they just take the default line, which has been created and engendered to support the agendas of a very small faction of society - essentially, the ruling class. Those who do research ideas like the examples I mentioned (again, just as examples - try to control your urge to label me, for it is an exercise in futility) foregoing preconceived/indoctrinated notions about them, most often find them to be drastically different in nature than they've been lead to believe. Some may and often do even find them to be very aligned with their own ideals - things they felt strongly about, yet had previously been unable to articulate for themselves. This experience of alignment regarding something you feel passionately about (as Miller felt about perfect liberty, for THAT is what Miller's work is about; you just need to look a little deeper if you can) is beautiful ... is inspiring ... is empowering.
     -- Anonymous, Greenbough, Alabama     
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    Excellent points, E Archer.
     -- Anonymous, Greenbough, Alabama     
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    Referring to the other aspects of Miller's life to create a dammning perspective on this quotation shows how ignorant you people really are. Your arguments are based on your own opinions of Miller's frivolous hobbies, and without even considering the possible context of the quotation you immediately assume it is "wrong". Your opinion is valued, if only to show how "wrong" ignorant you can be.
     -- Anonymous, London     
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    Henry Miller was a pioneer and a revolutionary in his field, his sexual rants are a large part of the Tropic of Cancer which is constantly hailed by critic. Ken, you dolt.
     -- Anonymous, Greenbough, Alabama     
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