Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What fear is this?

I keep chiding myself for splitting my attention but continue the habit anyway. For months, I've slugged thru Anais Nin's biography and am so happy to be nearly finished. What I can say of the woman from Baer's book is negligible compared to what Nin says of herself in her own writing. That's the thing with bios, the focus is less about the creation and more about the creator. Nin comes off as a megalomaniac, a liar, someone whose reality and whose fiction intermingled until there was no separation. In that, I must give her respect because the woman absolutely created her reality, even when it was uncooperative. But it's a guarded admiration. The maintenance of her "reality" depended upon the acquiescence of others to her ongoing charades. Still I am ambivalent. It's my belief that we each acquiesce with awareness, and that awareness depends on our ability to be honest with ourselves. So Hugo (Nin's husband) and Rupert (Nin's other husband) must surely have known something was amiss in their presumably monogamous life with her. Yet neither confronted the truth of that, and so, allowed the charade. This kind of reality blocking happens all the time.

What is clear - getting back to the split attention - is how difficult it is to savor Nin's bio when it's competing with another on Frida Kahlo and yet a third on Garcia Lorca. Each excites me and because I lack the discipline to control my appetite, I pick one up and read a few pages, then another to read a few paragraphs and then the another for a few minutes before sleep. It's a bio buffet over here, appealing to the dilettante in me and not the purist.

This is how the minutes of my life are split up. These are the halved atoms and separated molecules of the space that makes time. Feed the eyes. Why this frenzy? Is it just the fear of time flying? Is it the fear of time present?


Lyle Daggett said...

Hi, Ann -- the bios all sound interesting. I do the same thing with books, I'm always reading several at once.

Another good one, from several years ago, is the bio of Kenneth Rexroth by Linda Hamalian. As poet bios go, it struck me as fairly balanced, treating frankly his human flaws and giving him his due for his amazing body of poetry and other writing. (I say this never having known or even met Rexroth, knowing him only through his writing and other people's writing about him.)

Hamalian also edited the updated edition of Rexroth's Autobiographical Novel (the edition published by New Directions back in the 90's), which is also wonderful to read -- not always a reliable source for facts as such, but Rexroth was a great storyteller.

Ann said...

Lyle -
I'm not as familiar with Rexroth the poet as I'd like to be, and associate him mainly with translations. This morning, bouncing off your comment, I found this amazingly detailed article on the bio you mention:
Thanks -