I first stumbled upon the name Anais Nin in my teenage years. I was reading alot of early to mid 20th century american-european literature. You know, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Kerouac. It was very much the era of the confessional, although frankly that term carries a little too much of a catholic guilt undertone for my liking. A more apt expression would be to say that these writers were documenting a lifestyle (often bohemian, definately on the fringes of society) and time period through the lens of their experience and under the influence of writers who had come before them. Nin herself is perhaps best known for her diaries and was very much part of bohemian circles wherever she went, being invovled socially and romantically with writers and artists. She appears in films by both meya derren and kenneth anger; two prominant underground film makers of the time, the former being especially important culturally for creating avant garde works in the predominantly male-dominated counterculture although to reduce both Anais and Maya’ contributions to their paticular gender is to pay them a great disservice. I mean, Kenneth Anger is also pretty damn vital too, especially considering his representations of homosexuality, but to say that this is all there is to his work is as bad as just giving props to Deren and Nin for being female.
Anyways, barely structured and formless ramblings aside, Nin is also known for her Erotic Writings. I’ve only read one book by Nin, much to my shame, and it was a collection of such writings called Little Birds and was a well worth while read. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to read any of her works to seize the chance.
fuck, where was i going with all this? My head keeps telling me that i need to write posts on Deren and Anger but that’s not where this started.
Oh yeah, Nin. She write good. She lived interesting life surrounded by interesting people. She documented a vital time in 20th century society, art and counterculture in a frank manner. She’s a damn fine writer of erotic fiction. She held her own in social circles dominated by men.
This is her talking about drugs, specifically LSD, taken from one of her diaries:
[Huxley] reminded me that drugs are beneficial if they provide the only access to our nightlife. I realized that the expression “blow my mind” was born of the fact that America had cemented access to imagination and fantasy and that it would take dynamite to remove this block! I believed Leary’s emphasis on the fact we use only one percent of our mind or potential, that everything in our education conspires to restrict and constrict us. I only wished people had had time to study drugs as they studied religion or philosophy and to adapt to this chemical alteration of our bodies.
[LSD’s] value is in being a shortcut to the unconscious, so that one enters the realm of intuition unhampered, pure as it is in children, of direct emotional reaction to nature, to other human beings. In a sense it is the return to the spontaneity and freshness of childhood vision which makes every child able to paint or sing.
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