Let me begin by advising you to put down that slice of pizza before you read this. I made the mistake of eating just that and while my ironclad stomach was fine, I found myself making some bleh lip movements and much nose wrinkling.
On a Sunday afternoon, when the shutters are down and the proletariat possesses the street in a kind of dumb torpor, there are certain thoroughfares which remind one of nothing less than a big chancrous cock laid open longitudinally. And it is just these highways, the Rue St. Denis, for instance, or the Faubourg du Temple–which attract one irresistibly, much as in the old days, around Union Square or the upper reaches of the Bowery, one was drawn to the dime museums where in the show windows there were displayed wax reproductions of various organs of the body eaten away by syphilis and other venereal diseases. The city sprouts out like a huge organism diseased in every part, the beautiful thoroughfares only a little less repulsive because they have been drained of their pus. (p. 40)
What cracks me up is again looking at the back cover blurbs:
"…a rush of spirit into the world as though all the sparkling wines have been uncorked." — William H. Gass, the New York Times Book Review
"Here is a book which, if such a thing were possible, might restore our appetite for the fundamental realities." — Anais Nin
Uh, I don’t agree. And it’s not the language the author uses, highly sexually oriented and in a low-opinionated way, but rather the rather depressing and dirty vision he sees and relates via the narrator. C’mon, no one can say that pus, even as a white blood cell reaction to fighting disease, is not a nasty thing.
A point made in this observation of Paris and New York however is that it is attractive to people; it attracts them to itself, this sliced-open cock of a street. What’s Miller telling us about human nature?