Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anais Nin: My secret fantastical self....from another life. (updated)

When I was about seven years old, I used to tell people that my mother was Diana Ross. Why? Because my own mother is Danish, blond, and we look nothing alike. I always floated around the reality of that, seeing either myself as a typical "white" girl in Texas, or something fantastical. 

In recent days, literally days, I have discovered Anais Nin. I remember "Henry and June." I remember a good girlfriend in Sydney giving it to me saying I'd reminded her of the author, (circa 95-picture below)

The back of the book my friend,
Nadine gave me in Sydney.

...but it was in the delving and scanning of social media that I saw her most publicized quote: 

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." - Anais Nin

Her name, the undulation of a capital A and the smaller neatly -tucked letters, and then the upswing of the capital N with "in", the flip of "na" in the second and third letter. I was mesmerized. Not sure why.....but an hour of my life was lost in the intensity of "Googling" her. I devoured all the information. Her Wiki page, The Anais Nin Trust  the pictures, the pinterest sites devoted to her quotes, The official Anais Nin blog. I was not at all overloaded. No slow seeping headache sunk in, no heavy eyelids, ceased my search.  I was up, up, up in the beautiful words. I was lost in the life story so strangely paralleled to mine, yet different and delicately dangerous too. To be clear: She makes my life look "normal." But, the similarities exists, none the less.

Lizzy Crocker,  from an article in the DailyBeast about her next to be released Diary "Mirages":

Anais and Rupert Pole
"Mirages ends in 1947, five years after her affair with Miller ended, when Nin meets the handsome and retiring Rupert Pole, a much younger man and “the One” who seemed to satisfy all of her needs. “With words, I touch the face of Rupert… I feel for the first time the reality of a phrase June used to say to Henry, ‘Up to the hilt, my love,’” she writes.
Anais and Hugh (married 53yrs)
But in the end, there was no one person who could complete Ana├»s Nin. She continued to lead a bifurcated life, dying in 1977 with two husbands—Hugh Guiler, the man she married in 1923, and Pole—neither of whom knew of the other’s existence. "

The first of many details I noticed was her death. 1977. Hm.  The year I was born. My fantasy being spun in fast moving cloud-like thoughts. She lived in France, and New York, and Los Angeles. And then, her mother....Danish, like mine.  Lightening strikes in my silly mind. Her father was Spanish. I understood the complexities of bi-racial life, but couldn't imagine hers in that day. Further fascinated, I read on about her open sensuality, and linguistic affairs of delicacy and eloquence. Her marriage to Hugh Parker Guiler, a generous and unconditional loving banker, lasted 53 years until her death.  She also (yes, also) was married to Rupert Pole for 11 years, and before that had a decade long affair with Henry Miller and still happened to live this strangely full and spectacular life of words, and travel. The stories, my dear french lasciviousness, the stories are what drew me in; that, and her pictures.

Like a painting picks a person, walking aimlessly at a show only to be stunned and paralyzed by the intrigue or emotion spoken to them from canvas and oil, her face draws me in. Her words too familiar, to the point of de ja vu. Did I read her many years ago? Did I write a paper I don't remember? Bizarre, but bewitchingly, I can't place it, nor can I stop day-dreaming her life. Coffee, wine, artists, slender cigarette filters, french laughter that rolls and cackles from deep in the smoky lungs of prostitutes sitting in arm with socialites. All swirled and spinning in thick colors. The dark lights just as a Van Gogh painting or sincere and specific like Proust prose, all appear to me in wondrous twists and cobblestones of Montparnasse circa 1930's.  I can smell the sour Seine, and the stale smell of moldy old parlors. It calls to me, and I bought all her books in one frenzied amazon cart-filled purchase. 

I know, I know, she is widely celebrated or hated. Entire grad school classes devoted to her subject, scholars and laymen and hundreds of thousands before me studied and admired her. Somehow, in my idealistic, romanticized habit of over-identifying, I selfishly feel a connection. An energetic surge to envelope her, and see the cosmic coincidence in finding her in a time of my life so torrid, and raw. A liking, so many have assumed to themselves, I steal from her to keep for myself. Last night, I stayed up in bed, long into the night reading her first diary: "The Diary of Anais Nin, volume one 1931-1934"

Her words sing off the pages, her descriptions pure and so effortless in their complicated essence of simple life observation. I consume them. Below, are a few excerpts that literally stop my breath and shock me with her enlightenment. A knowing, or perspective that could so easily be breezed over as merely "pretty perceptions." The diaries are my favorite. She was writing for herself. The beauty in her own dialogue is what stuns me. The truth without any purpose or audience perceived is the precious sweet spot that beckons and captivates me.
"I had a sense of preparation of love to come. Like the extension of canopies, the unrolling of ceremonial carpets, as if I must first create a marvelous world in which to house it, in which to receive, adequately, this guest of honor.
In absolute unoriginality, I felt as if she spoke my words, pulled them from me and lit them up in the sky. My life right now is a metanoia, awakening, a beginning and an ending. It is an illumination of things most people laugh at or dismiss. The depths of which remain my silent tote of beauty. A mystery so small and personal, I fear declaring it's existence as it reflects and randomly shimmers beyond my control;  but I won't let it, the loss too great. I fear it losing it's shine in the interpretation of others.

"I want to be a writer who reminds others that these moments exist; I want to prove that there is infinite space, infinite meaning, infinite dimensions." 
I envy her unabashed hopes and the lack of concern for their receipt on the other end of humanity and the doldrums of an average person, planted in their disbelief and deep-unfounded mud of reality as they've been taught. Those persons, they are who hold me and my own dreams back....for now.

"You live like this, sheltered in a delicate world, and you think you are living." 
She goes on: "Millions live like this ( or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, it awakens them and saves them from death."

I lose myself in recognition and relating to how she describes the psyche of a man, specific in this case, but honestly, well appropriated for most (that I tend to be attracted to, anyway):

"The brain of a man is filled with passageways like the contours and multiple crossroads of a labyrinth. In it's curved folds, lie the imprints of thousands of images, recordings of a million words."

Lastly, ( and I could go on for hours) I laughed out loud at the mention of "Arabs" in a succinct collection of words that paint the hologram that I identify my other half, non-Danish, heritage with:

"I remember reading that the Arabs did not respect the man who unveiled his thoughts. The intelligence of an Arab was measured by his capacity to elude direct questions. This was true of Indians, of Mexicans. The questioner was always suspect."

That description could be solely for my father, a man of constant paranoid intelligence, a radar sweeping everything and everyone for the mole or the threat of danger to his knowledge, money or peace. It was suffocating and primal. As I've aged, I see it is one of the many things I am drawn to in a person. 

In perfect honesty, I am not a prude, nor in the very least repressed, but she may very well be the only woman whose sexuality scares me with its depth and freedom. Her unrelenting passion bubbling under her surface. It is, even for me, too much at times....and I think that is why she leaves me numinous, and lost trying to reconcile the brain, the beauty and the becoming writer she is, was, remains, can still be. Posterity in word and grace glittering in infamy.  Of whom do I speak, you ask, Is it her? or is it me?

Does it matter?

If it does, I speak of her. Truly. That said, the flashing mirrored sun light that flies through and blinds me, is the very light that inspires me more, to be. To dream. To blossom. 

For not to, would be to stay in "hibernation"; and I'm too far gone in the depths of living for that now, ( in her words) "Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity and stumble from defeat to defeat." 

I've got that down. For now....

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