Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reading Anais Nin

Sometimes, I think I'm a bit whimsical. As I nearly finished cooking dinner today, I was seized with a sudden craving for onion soup. Despite having no idea how onion soup is made, I proceeded to cook and invent a recipe for onion soup out of the contents of my fridge, while eating the dinner that I'd already made.

Yesterday, I was seized with a sudden compulsion to read the diaries of Anais Nin. Exercising great self-restraint, I did not immediately drop my studies and rush to nearby bookstores and libraries in a frenzied book hunt but, instead, waited until wrapping up classes and meetings today to head to the library.

Now, I'm reading volume one of The Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1934). I was completely drawn in on page one; she writes of living in the provincial town where Madame Bovary poisoned herself, of a townsman being one of "Balzac's misers", and of lanes through which Marcel Swann would drive to dinner. Here's another passage that made me stop and reread:

"You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterly, for instance), or you take a trip [...] and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. 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, and it awakens them and saves them from death.

"Some never awaken. They are like the people who go to sleep in the snow and never awaken. But I am not in danger because my home, my garden, my beautiful life do not lull me. I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, from which I can only escape by writing."

(Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, Volume One)

I liked reading that; I often do feel as if reading a book (Herman Hesse, Demian or, perhaps, The Diary of Anais Nin) or hearing a symphony (The Rite of Spring for one) had the effect of shaking me out of a stupor.

photo at top © 2009 Kay


  1. Onion soup is quite easy to make - provided you have the right ingredients. I sometimes have cravings for it too; it is just that tasty. :)
    How did yours turn out?

  2. I agree with you about reading Anais Nin's journals. They can really take you out of a stupor. As a professional writer, Nin's words have inspired many of my own. In fact, i dedicated my recent book of poetry to her, DEAR ANAIS: MY LIFE IN POEMS FOR YOU, available on Amazon.

    Come visit my blog, or website,