tropic of cancer

tropic of cancerGoing down to Tainan we passed the Tropic of Cancer.  We are now officially in the tropics.  The Tropic of Cancer, according to Wikipedia, is “the northernmost latitude at which the Sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This event occurs at the June solstice, when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun to its maximum extent.”  It’s called the Tropic of Cancer since, when it was named, the sun was in the constellation of Cancer during the summer solstice.

As Wikipedia goes on to explain:

Cancer, the Crab, plays a minor role in the Twelve Labors of Hercules. While Hercules was busy fighting the multi-headed monster, Hydra, the goddess Hera, who did not like Hercules, sent the Crab to distract him. Cancer grabbed onto the hero’s toe with its claws, but barely breaking the rhythm of his great battle with Hydra, Hercules crushed the crab with his foot. Hera, grateful for the little crustacean’s heroic but pitiful effort, gave it a place in the sky. The crab did not win, so the gods didn’t give the crab bright stars. Cancer’s brightest star is Acubens. It is a whitish color.

I like that story.  I’ll rewrite it as “The Twelve Labors of Erik,” and like Hercules I’ll crush the cancer with my foot.

Tropic of Cancer is also of course a book by Henry Miller.  I first read it as an easily excitable teenager.  The book is famous for its graphic descriptions of sex — and it was long banned in the US — but all I can remember is Miller’s constant stream of thoughts and images.  It was my introduction to modernist literature.

I hear not a word because she is beautiful and I love her and now I am happy & willing to die.


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