I’ve taken to reading Anais Nin’s Diary series, one book at a time, and a bit out of order it seems. After finishing Volume One (1931-1934) last year, jumped to Volume Five, the last of her published diary from 1947 – 1955. Nin was a master of diary writing, taking a notebook with her wherever she went and recording events in her life, starting at the soft age of 11. In this Volume, Nin shares how her life is without roots, without a home-town, and instead we find her home the world of her travels and visions, from Acapulco and its languorous beauty, to San Francisco, to New York, which she finds chiseled and toxic, and her revisit to Paris. It it amazing how she often attracts talented and creative people in her life. Through all her anguish and happiness I find a woman who knew how to experience life and who, as a writer, could describe it with indelible clarity and wonder. Here is a piece from Summer 1953:
A martini makes an ordinary glass shine like a diamond at a coronation, makes an iron bed in Mexico seem like the feather bed of a sultan, a hotel room like the terminus and climax of all voyages, the pinnacle of contentment, the place of repose in an altitude hungered for by all the restless ones.
Create space and order in the house. It is very important. It is like the empty room of the Japanese, ideal for the gestations of the imagination and inner visions. Uncluttered. Our clutter interferes with freedom of thought. Air and lightness.
Costume in New York is a white wool coat, a white dress, a white hat with two slim abstract birds in flight. A painter asked me: “Aren’t you afraid the birds will fly away?”
“No, I always fly off first and they follow me.”
You dream of the evening and of what it will bring at twilight, it is the hour I love best and which always saddens me. You cease the day’s efforts, you recline, you bathe, you dress for some event. I love bridges best of all, planes, taxis, the diaries, the hour of dress, the in-between hours, the only moment when I exist alone.
Volume Five concludes with Anais Nin’s description of her controlled experiment with LSD, which for her reaffirmed in her mind the quality of her creativity in writing and questioned whether one needs drugs to find a heightened awareness of vision and dreams. You can read this experience from the diary in Anais Nin’s Doors of Perception in this blog’s pages. (See header.)
Another thing I absolutely love about Anais is the fact that when American publishers declined on her work, she bought her own press and published her own books. Under the Glass Bell was one book, which ended up getting such high praise her books eventually won publication from the very publishers who had refused her. This gives hope to me and all other writers who are considering self publication.
More on Anais Nin at a later date…