He asked me innocently, what then had brought me to his home and without a minutes hesitation I told him an astounding lie. A lie which was later to prove a great truth. I told him I was only pretending to sell the encyclopedia in order to meet people and write about them. That interested him enormously, even more than the encyclopedia. He wanted to know what I would write about him, if I could say.It's taken me twenty years to answer that question, but here it is. If you would still like to know, John Doe of the city of Bayonne, this is it. I owe you a great deal, because after that lie I told you, I left your house and I tore up the prospectus furnished me by The Encyclopedia Britannica and I threw it in the gutter. I said to myself I will never again go to people under false pretenses, even if is to give them the Holy Bible. I will never again sell anything, even if I have to starve. I am going home now and I will sit down and really write about people and if anybody knocks at my door to sell me something, I will invite him in and say Why are you doing this? and if he says it is because he needs to make a living I will offer him what money I have and beg him once again to think what he is doing. I want to prevent as many men as possible from pretending that they have to do this or that because they must earn a living. It is not true. One can starve to death, it is much better. Every man who voluntarily starves to death jams another cog in the automatic process. I would rather see a man take a gun and kill his neighbor in order to get the food he needs than keep up the automatic process by pretending that he has to earn a living. That's what I want to say, Mr John Doe.
Henry Miller