A friend of mine recently watched the film Henry and June, I had never read anything by Anaïs Nin so I thought I would read her Unexpurgated Diary upon which the (according to said friend) unremarkable film was based…
I began the book in between cramming for a biology final: I took it in as a rest for my mind while I diligently memorized the ins and outs of mitosis and glycolysis- I am simultaneously in awe of the body: the complexity and beauty of the world, while being aware that it matters not that I have an inking as to the workings of it all.
Ah well, I accidentally enrolled myself in a class meant for science majors and now I am quite certain that although the study of life is truly fascinating I will not be pursuing the discipline in a high stakes scholastic setting or any field in which my very life depends upon defining the molecular inner-workings of matter – that it all works splendidly is good enough for me. Dread is an awful thing.
But never mind that, back to Anaïs. The cover flap tried to entice me with the promise of a story of a woman’s “sexual awakening.” I think I missed the “asleep” part – it seems to me that the woman was always wide awake. Fairly caffeinated and ready to go in fact. Her proclamations of inexperience were…not convincing, learning new positions is not exactly an awakening, more like a class one has audited for enrichment.
If I had perhaps 3 and 1/2 less problems in my own life I may have been more sympathetic. Maybe I am just too old. If your biggest problem in life is whom to spend the afternoon in bed with, well, lady, I’ll gladly switch places with you.
It is the wrong time for me to read about a privileged, beautiful, desired woman. I can not relate. I’m probably just jealous, uncharitable as that may be…but I do admire her courage in writing frankly about her desires; it is perhaps only slightly less provocative today then when she wrote it however, which is depressing. But it seems to me that the trouble with sex is that it is always relegated to all or nothing. When sex is everything- it is rendered meaningless, and when it is nothing- everything else is meaningless.
But I try not to be bitter, Between Nin and Miller the expression of the depth of human feeling, emotional and physical desire is fully realized in all its uncomfortably naked intimacy – the reader often feels like an intruder or voyeur, but also glad to know that some people try to love one another so thoroughly.
We are all so full of feeling, sometimes trounced by it; the tricky part is to avoid what sometimes overtakes our worn out souls: a desire to be anesthetized.