Monday, September 8, 2014

My year long comittment to Anais Nin...

When Nin became too familiar with herself or anyone else, she dismantled her deepest convictions and reassessed them. Obeying a compulsion to explore personal identity as a means of understanding human nature, Nin repeatedly breaks her mirror and pieces it back together. The result is a glittering, fractured mask of self and other. Here are five of Nin’s most luminous reflections. 1. “The truly faithless one is the one who makes love to only a fraction of you. And denies the rest.” Nin was a bit of an Ethical Slut, which is to say, she had a moral approach to intimate relationships that eschewed the conventional regard for monogamy. Cheating, by Nin's standard, is not defined by having more than one lover, but by a lover’s failure to embrace their partner wholly and fully. This implies that one should love their partner(s) not in spite of physical or psychological imperfections, but including or even because of them. 2. “Pain is something to master, not to wallow in.” Nin was prone to emotional anguish that sometimes manifested itself physically, and though she was drawn to the opiate-craving June Miller and other dabblers, she was suspicious of drug addicts and their avoidant behavior. She believed in confronting all feelings, positive or negative, and struggled to come to terms with the discomforts of her hypersensitive constitution. 3. “The only abnormality is the incapacity to love.” When we allow ourselves to be tyrannized by notions of normalcy, our best interests can become alien to us. Maybe, as Nin suggests, we should stop having monstrous "debates" about who should be allowed to marry or semantic disputes over the definition of family. Instead of trying to define what’s normal, we should recalibrate our connection to that which is natural: our ability to love. Otherwise, as Nin says in another entry, we’re liable to put ourselves "in bondage to the past." 4. “And the day came when the risk it took to stay tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Seeing a tarantula molt is like watching a person lying flat on their back trying to wriggle out of a pair of skinny jeans very, very slowly. Afterward, the tarantula is so vulnerable that even the smallest disturbance can seriously injure it. It’s not a comfortable process for the spider, but staying in the undersized exoskeleton isn’t an option. As Nin points out, there are moments in life when taking a risk and making a change are absolutely essential for personal growth. But even if the change is unavoidable, making it takes courage. 5. “We are going to the moon—that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.” Astrobiologists may be pursuing intelligent life elsewhere, but Nin believed in endless possibility, beauty, and variety here on earth, and she longed for others to feel the same way. As she says in the first volume of her diary, “I want to be a writer who reminds others … I want to prove that there is infinite space, infinite meaning, infinite dimension.” Lisa Ekanger

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