Anaïs Nin — A Spy in the House of Love

This one goes out to all my night owls:
At sixteen Sabina took moon-baths, first of all because everyone else took sun-baths, and second, she admitted, because she was told it was dangerous. The effect of moon-baths was unknown, but it was intimated that it might be the opposite of the sun's effect.

The first time she exposed herself she was frightened. What would the consequences be? There were many taboos against gazing at the moon, many old legends about the evil effects of falling asleep in moonlight. She knew that the insane found the full moon acutely disturbing, that some of them regressed to animal habits of howling at the moon. She knew that in astrology the moon ruled the night life of the unconscious, invisible to consciousness.

But then she had always preferred the night to the day.

Moonlight fell directly over her bed in the summer. She lay naked in it for hours before falling asleep, wondering what its rays would do to her skin, her hair, her eyes, and then deeper, to her feelings.

By this ritual it seemed to her that her skin acquired a different glow, a night glow, an artificial luminousness which showed its fullest effulgence only at night, in artificial light. People noticed it and asked her what was happening. Some suggested she was using drugs.

It accentuated her love of mystery. She meditated on this planet which kept a half of itself in darkness. She felt related to it because it was the planet of lovers. Her attraction for it, her desire to bathe in its rays, explained her repulsion for home, husband and children. She began to imagine she knew the life which took place on the moon. Homeless, childless, free lovers, not even tied to each other.

The moon-baths crystallized many of Sabina's desires and orientations. Up to that moment she had only experienced a simple rebellion against the lives that surrounded her, but now she began to see the forms and colors of other lives, realms much deeper and stranger and remote to be discovered, and that her denial of ordinary life had a purpose: to send her off like a rocket into other forms of existence. Rebellion was merely the electric friction accumulating a charge of power that would launch her into space.

She understood why it angered her when people spoke of life as One life. She became certain of myriad lives within herself. Her sense of time altered. She felt acutely and with grief, the shortness of life's physical span. Death was terrifyingly near, and the journey towards it, vertiginous; but only when she considered the lives around her, accepting their time tables, clocks, measurements. Everything they did constricted time. They spoke of one birth, one childhood, one adolescence, one romance, one marriage, one maturity, one aging, one death, and then transmitted the monotonous cycle to their children. But Sabina, activated by the moonrays, felt germinating in her the power to extend time in the ramifications of a myriad of lives and loves, to expand the journey to infinity, taking immense and luxurious detours as the courtesan depositor of multiple desires. The seeds of many lives, places, of many women in herself were fecundated by moonrays because they came from that limitless night life which we usually perceive only in our dreams, containing roots reaching for all the magnificences of the past, transmitting the rich sediments into the present, projecting them into the future.

In watching the moon she acquired the certainty of the expansion of time by depth and emotion, range and infinite multiplicity of experience.

It was this flame which began to burn in her, in her eyes and skin, like a secret fever, and her mother looked at her and said: "You look like a consumptive." The flame of accelerated living by fever glowed in her and drew people to her as the lights of night life drew passerby out of the darkness of empty streets.

When she did finally fall asleep it was the restless sleep of the night watchman continuously aware of danger and of the treacheries of time seeking to cheat her by permitting clocks to strike the passing hours when she was not awake to grasp their contents.
There is no bleaker moment in the life of the city than that one which crosses the boundary lines between those who have not slept all night and those who are going to work. It was for Sabina as if two races of men and women lived on earth, the night people and the day people, never meeting face to face except at this moment. Whatever Sabina had worn which seemed to glitter during the night, lost its colors in the dawn. The determined expressions of those going to work appeared to her like a reproach. Her fatigue was not like theirs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this.