LETTERS AND THINGS
Afterward came letters and seeds of change. The words of these people reflect the feelings of countless others who come into contact with the transforming powers of Anaïs Nin.
Ann Roche: Anaïs Nin seemed a woman with a strong sense of her own identity and mystery capable of radiating hope and reassurance to these around her still adrift in a sea of self-search. She seemed to reach out her hand to me, as if saying step forward.
Suzanne Benton: I came home feeling as if I was a beautiful pitcher of white cream. The creamy contents had securely found its way to the opening and was coming out in an exquisitely sculptured thread.
James Mundy: The weekend exists eternally for those who were there. It is focal and constantly expanding spherically. It is the stark beauty of forty whole parts (solid masses) coming together into a fluid. The atomic radiance of Anaïs in black and gold. The grand motherly grace of Frances Steloff with her long white hair trailing down her back; her robe. The deliberate precision of Evelyn Hinz, voice, her honest perceptions, mystical sphinx face. The deep velvet darkness, the sensual warmth of yes surging out from Beatrice Harris … (Valerie and Adele’s) precision created one of the most beautiful movements thus far in my life.Bebe Herring: The days in Rye with Anaïs, with all, were for me a birth. For years, I have been in labor with myself, and afraid to risk the final delivery. I think I was afraid of the responsibility an artist has, and I tried to escape it.
I have had a dream, always, of being in a “House of Mirrors”, the kind I saw first as a child at the circus. I am standing in this dark house, and everywhere I turn, “I” am there, reflected in a thousand mirrors. To escape the House, to escape stasis, I must break the mirrors, one by one, with my own fists. But I am, always, afraid to raise my hand, afraid that one of those Bebe-faces is the real self, the real existence, and not a mirror.
In Rye, I came to an understanding of my dream and an understanding of what I must do. I MUST begin to break those false selves, and begin right away. I have tried, for so long, to escape, to delegate my responsibility to others. “Here, you live for me.” It won’t work. So now, I have surfaced, come up from the depths of sleep, shed a marriage on the way, and I am moving into being through becoming.
Because of Anaïs’ midwifery, miracles will be born of all of us. I have learned not to kick my way into the future or to hold, screaming, to the past. Anaïs truly taught me the importance of risking and giving. And we, all of us celebrants, have so much to give.
Jeffery Mundy: The interstices are the places of the sources. When a hand is held, or grasps between grasses for earth, or reaches skyward; fingers lock, inbetweenness begins, and here, in this space of touching, the magic sparks are kindled… the magic circles structure moved us into the desired state of mind. People there I am sure I love and know. If the artist is anybody, he is somebody to who things made matter very little, but who is obsessed by the making . . . the weekend is something still alive, it is present and still growing spherically. Ah, the magic of the circle.
Dr. Elaine Marks: Anaïs Nin is a most seductive and vulnerable woman. I made a great effort not to succumb; I was unsuccessful.
Helen Bidwell: Two types of impressions have been distilled finally: my shock at finding myself self-absorbed and stuttering about lack of content; and joy and calm and release evoked by memories of the events and people at the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the women, feeling very deep an affinity for myself as a woman … I am continually more grateful for the pivotal weekend handed us all.
Moira Collins: Anaïs Nin, by sharing her Way of Life has shown us that although existing can be tricky it still is a gift … My overwhelming impression of the Weekend was a party which never really started and never stopped, a continual celebration where one didn’t have to wait around to open presence. It was a VICTORY FOR BEING party.
Lele Stephens: Two worlds, forever in flux, within and without, and only the artist, who dances on a silver cord between the two, can synthesize and illuminate.
We journeyed to Rye to meet a myth and found a woman. Anaïs Nin. Always and ever, in her art and in her life, inhaling the outer, exhaling the inner. We offered her a crown of adulation. She declined.
Something to believe in, she said, yes, that is necessary But do not cast me as a goddess I have come like you, to celebrate art and friendship.
David Williams: It is pleasant to note the new emerging network of friendships. How quickly we to the bottom of each other’s natures but never to the usual amenities of age, occupation, and marital status … It became apparent that our most adventuresome and deepened encounter with Anaïs Nin would come through simple, more intimate conversation. She distilled in us all our normally scattered energies for eye-to-eye expression and listening. I’m trying now to listen to my friends creatively and with care … Also I now find my new allegiance to film is becoming more personal, cheaper, modest but fervent. Only in this way can one best approximate the self-expression that is usually, historically the province of the writer, composer, or painter, … The weekend inculcated in us Anaïs Nin’s healthy creative, enriched approach to experience and relationship. A most successful transfusion!
Trew Bennett: The Celebration and the concentric magic circles are still in motion and our encounter is an on-going event … Anaïs inspired us to believe in ourselves as artists and to do it in our own way . . . My daily chores continue, my pottery spins, my friends come and go, and Anthony and I continue our marriage, but all these things are touched with the nourishment and awareness that the Celebration helped to create…
(about Anaïs) She really is who she is (echoes from House of Incest: Does anybody know who I am?)! She is all I fantasized and hoped she would be — gracious, warm, delicate, unique, and giving; I found her so whole. One quality particularly impressed me, and that is her seemingly infinite calm and openness juxtaposed with her gossamer aura of privacy, which never takes the form of hesitation, withdrawal, or “no”, but is as elusive and beautiful as she is… The Weekend fulfilled my desire to meet Anaïs and feel that there was exchange between us. It also brought me into focus with myself. It especially made me feel closer to all women and to the woman in myself.
Lex Crocker: I am still coasting on the energy of the weekend. I feel deeply that it has affected my life forever. My heartfelt thanks for awakening me to what I always felt life should be like, but which everything in my life and society had always negated. Those three days revealed to me again the possibilities in the dreams of childhood, dreams I had almost forgotten about.
Poem for Anaïs Nin
marina, gentle woman from the
carries a book of dream-poems in her
and sings under a tree to the sky
and the stars,
with a softness in her heart
and a tender breath of love
to the birds
which follow her
everywhere.a tear falls from her cheek,
becoming a river,
on which people sail and dream
and gaze wondereyed at the
never knowing the sorrow which flows beneath them
marina dons her golden wings and
flys away into the sky
leaving the birds to eat the
seeds of her fruit
as she becomes a maiden
of the sun
and spills her radiant rays
on you and me
William Claire: I remember the startling clarity in the eyes of Frances
Steloff … the circular warmth of a library … a curtain string blowing in the
light breeze … the shadows outside chasing away the doom …
what Thomas Merton called ‘the hidden wholeness’ in a country room …
Anna Balakian’s mind bristling with delight …
Everyone tuned into the light …
And everywhere Anaïs moving like love …
with the grace and softness of an imperial dove…
Sas Colby: In colors the weekend was
MAGENTA & YELLOW!
Georgiana Peacher: The world of tomorrow, creation and joy and relief from earth’s avertible sorrows, currented in our week-end through live bodies revealing inner beauties on canvas cloth clay paper metal screen and waves of air placed in vibrations with interlacing tones from gentle larynges of sensitive souls. I learned about prevention from work as clinical psychologist and speech pathologist, first in a veterans’ hospital, 1946-48, treating men my age made aphasic and hemiplegic by brain wounds in World War Two, then at a university medical center, 1948-67, sharing rehabilitations with people from infancy through nineties. Undertowing every moment we thought that more could be done by prediction prophylaxis and that American medicine, American society circuited on base attempting cure after injury. In l966 the oeuvre of Anaïs Nin produced a sudden and intense abreaction and rebirth in me, opening my psyche to new and immense dimensions of life. In April 1967, I left a clinical professorship, headed for Paris to learn to live and write. I have far to go in this quest, but by my fifth rebirthday, as I began to fulfill deep wishes, comprehended a bit of my dilemma and ecstasy. For people who go mad, I sense they suffer from those infinite creations, innate in supraconscious of all, crying for life and also from lack of sharing, need for live interappreciation. While we gathered in our island beyond time, my mother lay in a hospital, victim of a mugging, brain-damaged speechless and paralyzed. The reason I mention this permeation into my weekend is that this event would have shattered me with guilt and anxiety depression, kept me from appearing at any happy house had it happened prior to my freedom into creation. But because I’ve had time to write and think and use prior reception from year’s affiliation with a progressive psychiatric department, I turned negative relationship into its complement, pleasure, by finally humanizing mythical perfection feels, met my tricky interior deviltrix,
recognized my complicity with my forefathers “owning” men women children called slaves (dip in familial collective unconscious), my country’s napalming Asiatic mortals and lands (descent in national collective unconscious),
perceived my impotency as sole savioress of humanity;
drowned beneath dissents to fish in thalamic core and there found the microscopically undetectable golden thread-link to exterior cortex-intelligence, trail toward controlled creatrixship;
and thereby became capacitated to proceed without collapse into self-destruction as formerly occasioned at times like when a patient died of stroke on his way to see me.
inspiration of individuals
bountiful variations in human gifts
professional creativity in critique at
heights so delightfully free from pedantic violation to spirit.
vibrant intrasensitivities sometimes subsonic yet electrically transmitting
portend to me a future explosion of these entities, helping ourselves and each other and continuing the apparent intensified efforts at heightened personal endeavors and warm positive relationships so evident in those who love the writing and essence of Anaïs Nin. This will live, this contagion, this ultraconscious. And to think, this culminated from work of magicians!
Adele. Larry. Valerie.
I thank them and everyone
Not General George
Beatrice Harris: Anaïs led me to the weekend … A flowing cape embracing her, she led me down the cavern that resounds with echoes of the past. Her words ignite a light in me, revealing wishes hidden in the shadows … as many times in rhythmic flow of words between us, she has led me to myself … a part untouched.The journey is not unknown to her. Her eyes and ears unveil meaning in what others keep in darkness. I followed Anaïs into the house … It was difficult for me to speak the diamond meaning of Anaïs’ friendship to the myriad of veiled faces in the room-my feelings felt too intimate to share … and all I said, too little … as one small wave is not the ocean.
I was immersed in and surrounded … by hands that created … that made beauty out of earth and cloth and color … that made paintings out of words … that transformed the inner world … by faces that spoke of pain and joy … and choices to be made . . o by eyes that delighted in their vision and some that closed out overwhelming light … by bodies that glided or moved assuredly … and others that stepped weighted with a burden.
Yet all were there to have fired the impetus to creation … to share with others courage and hidden dreams … and to seek in Anaïs the inspiration to walk a path, untraveled.
The weekend moved in magic tempo. First the slow building melody of voices bridging distance … the rapid beat when hearts have touched in common understanding … the climactic dance in words presenting inner revelations.
The knowledge burst … that I could too … that Will was conscious recognition of desires unfulfilled.
Sas Colby, creator of the fantasy masks and capes, is one whose life was to greatly benefit by the Weekend. She sells capes to many participants (including Anaïs Nin and Frances Steloff). Her work is well received in gallery shows in California, where she becomes friends with the photographer John Pearson, and on at least two occasions participates in artists’ symposiums with Anaïs.
The weekend results in others taking dramatic steps. Adele and I, for instance, establish Magic Circle Press with the hope of reviving the love of books for their visual and tactile beauty, as well as for their literary or artistic content. We also sponsor another weekend with other artists and writers, many admirers of Anaïs Nin, based on Dream and Myth. Georgiana Peacher feels less alone as she works to complete the silk-screened folios of her novel. Trew Bennett and others feel renewed in their struggles to support themselves in work centered on their art.
Anaïs inspires independent creativity. A group of the women later put out a book of their own poetry, called Moonseed. Suzanne Benton will organize a theatre performance in New York City called “Four Chosen Women “, starring Anaïs. David Williams goes to Paris to study with filmmakers, where he searches for a houseboat on the Seine. And so it goes, all kinds of new plants growing across the country…
The following chapters in two different ways capture the essence of this energy.