Liminal Madness: Henry Miller’s Odyssey
He wasn’t crazy—he was mad. There’s a difference.
-Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi
In Victor and Edith Turner’s work on “Pilgrimage as a Liminoid Phenomenon,” they discuss French folklorist and ethnographer Arnold van Gennep’s rites of transition which correlates with which one experiences on a pilgrimage. This process comprises of three stages. The first stage is separation to separate oneself from home or the comfort of one’s familiar environment; the second stage is limen or margin which puts one in a state of liminal transition or threshold; the final and third stage is aggregation which will be the central focus of this paper. Aggregation is when the passage is…show more content… This is evident in the onset of the book where he encountered a woman named Betty Ryan of whom he’d met in Paris. She described Greece as if she were to paint it on a canvas which greatly intrigued Miller. He heard about Greece from his Greek friend Durrell from post cards, but never really ventured the idea of visiting. As a starving writer craving for inspiration, this individual tend to get lost in her own story as Miller says, “…I discovered that I was near Olympia that she had gone astray and I with her, but at that time it was just Greece to me, a world of light such as I had never dreamed of an never hoped to see.” This sparked his motivation to explore Greece and experience the awe and wondrous joy that Betty Ryan felt. What compelled Miller to finally go on his trip was not a casual talk about how nice Greece was, but rather, it was the fact that he was wandering and getting lost within Ryan’s story about Greece as if he was already there. Once Miller left France for Greece, his journey did not consist of a plan of action nor is there a mindset of a structured liminal pilgrim. His trip to Greece started out as nothing more than a mere vacation; a place to relax and clear his mind for a new story. This mindset however, quickly changed as he arrived in Athens to meet his friend Durrell. When they met, Miller learned how “enthusiastic, curious-minded [and] passionate” Greek people are. He also said that passion is