Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Diary of Anais Nin - Volume IV (1944-1947)

"Over and over again I discover the diary is an effort against loss, the passing, the deaths, the uprootings, the witherings, the unrealities. I feel that when I enclose something, I save it. It is alive here. When anyone left, I felt I retained his presence in these pages." (127)

It has been several years since I have read Nin and in that time I surely have changed, as has she, this a later volume of her diaries, and the magic wasn't entirely there for me this time around. Reading Nin the first time around presented me with a diary that was art, made me realize that the project I had been involved with, this diary and its earlier incarnation were meaningful - that a diary could be a powerful thing, a beautiful piece of writing in and of itself, and that it could be written to be shared with other people, Nin often showing her diary to others and discussing publishing it. Questions about diary writing and what its purposes present themselves upon the reading of a diary, and they are answered, some of the questions at least, when reading Nin's diary.

This volume has her living in New York and working on several books, surrounding herself with talented homosexuals, and living her life as World War II comes to a close, seeming less like a person I would like this time around, a little too particular. She makes quite a few observations about homosexuals that are too little to grand, but perhaps of their time, and here are a choice few.

But when I speak with Gore [Vidal] about the elations, the high modds, he tells me: "I never feel the high moments, only the depressions." Do they [the homosexuals] really live with less intensity than I do, less color, less feeling? Muted instruments. I was right when I described neurosis as a form of deafness, nearsightedness, a partial atrophy of the senses.

The homosexual fears totality, the absolute in love. So he divides the physical from the love. But now I find that because of my sympathy, and because I see in the homosexual the same hostilities and rebellions toward the willful or possessive or dominant parent, I am in sympathy with their perverse way of circumventing the man-and-woman relationship. (124-125)

Because I am a woman, the homosexual entrusted me with his childishness. The ephemeral sexual encounters, the disregard of the other's personality, the needs, oh, the endless needs of assurance, reassurance, admiration, encouragement. Something about the psyche as crippled as I was by my father's desertion, something creating difficulty in developing, in assurance, in maturing.

I saw in Pablo expressions of a very young boy. Moments of innocence which lighted his face, gestures of a childlike tenderness, not sexual. I saw them fall asleep in the middle of a party, as deeply as children. I saw their spontaneity in art, which I enjoyed: they could draw, write, sing, dance, almost without training, as children do. There were even facial immaturities, immature teeth, hands. All the elements which compose charm and delight, and gifts such as attend the growth of artists, seem to maintain in their personality, in spite of maturity and aging, the sensibilities, the curiosity, the ever-alert responsiveness to life of the child.

This quality, the quality of renewal, perpetual youthfulness, which I liked in the artist, I find in the homosexuals. Except here it is marred by anxiety, remorse, inhibitions, self-censorship. Why would they not be proud and simple about it? Why do they not have romantic and lasting attachments? Why do they not write romantic novels about homosexual love? There is a furtive quality to it all. Or else it comes out in irony, satire, or mockery of itself. This quality of caricature, which I first met in Henry [Miller], I see all around me. It is a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, distortion, a burlesque which denigrates all it touches, diminishes it, attributes falsity to sincerity, and hypocrisy to sentiment, and denies feeling altogether. In fun, I have often threatened my homosexual friends to write a serious, a deep, a moving book on homosexuality. It seems to me the subject is distorted and its possibilities of beauty avoided. It is always treated with shame, like men's quest for prostitutes. (187-188)

The book ends with Nin arriving in Mexico. In two weeks, I will be arriving in Mexico. The volume's conclusion and its symmetry with my own life had me very excited, was read as a sign of sorts.

No comments:

Post a Comment