A couple of weeks ago, while straightening up my desk at work, I came across in one of the drawers a sheet of notebook paper on which I had listed ten or twelve movies that I was interested in borrowing from the audio-visual department of the library. One of these was the film treatment of the book Henry and June by Anaïs Nin. The book consists of excerpts depicting the passionate love affair of American novelist, Henry Miller, and Anaïs Nin, as compiled from her unexpurgated diaries.
I borrowed both the DVD of the film and the book itself at the same time. Having viewed the movie [which I recommend only if: a) you are interested in the subject of Miller and Nin; or b) you are partial to lesbian sex scenes], I am slowly making my way through the book.
I wrote down the first few words of two brief passages that resonated with me. The first is this observation of Anaïs Nin’s concerning men:
“I have seen romanticism outlast the realistic. I have seen men forget the beautiful women they have possessed, forget the prostitutes, and remember the first woman they idolized, the woman they never could have. The woman who aroused them romantically holds them.”
She could be talking about me here, in relation to a woman I knew in the mid-1970s in London and New York and have never forgotten. I still have a bundle of the letters she wrote to me; letters that are too painful for me to read. I have some poems she wrote…
The next little snippet consists of two consecutive sentences written by novelist Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin at the height of their affair. The words express very well what I felt toward the woman mentioned above at the height of ours. In that regard, the first sentence here could have been seen as somehow true only in light of the second:
… “Oh, it is beautiful to love, and to be free at the same time. “
… “I don’t know what to expect of you, but it is something in the way of a miracle.”
That miracles do not exist in time, but sometimes threaten to break through to give us a glimpse of the transcendent, is perhaps why we are able to endure time's tyrannies.