“They both wanted to exchange bodies, exchange faces. There was in both of them the dark strain of wanting to become the other, to deny what they were, to transcend their actual selves.” —
Anaïs Nin, Ladders to Fire
“… and the very folds of the curtains contained secrets and sighs.” —
Anaïs Nin, from Under a Glass Bell (Gemor Press, 1944)
“Greyness is no ordinary greyness, but a vast lead roof which covers the world like the lid of a soup pan. The breath of human beings is like the steam of a laundry house. The smoke of cigarettes is like a rain of ashes from Vesuvius. The lights taste of sulphur, and each face stares at you with the immensity of its defects. The smallness of a room is like that of an iron cage in which one can neither sit nor lie down. The largeness of other rooms is like a mortal danger always suspended above you, awaiting the moment of your joy to fall. Laughter and tears are not separate experiences, with intervals of rest: they rush out together and it is like walking with a sword between your legs. Rain does not wet your hair but drips in the cells of the brain with the obstinacy of a leak. Snow does not freeze the hands, but like ether distends the lungs until they burst. All the ships are sinking with fire in their bowels, and there are fires hissing in the cellars of every house. The loved one’s whitest flesh is what the broken glass will cut and the wheel crush. The long howls in the night are howls of death. Night is the collaborator of torturers. Day is the light on harrowing discoveries. If a dog barks it is the man who loves wide gashes leaping in through the window. Laughter precedes hysteria. I am waiting for the heavy fall and the foam at the mouth.” — Anaïs Nin, House of Incest
“Eroticism is one of the basic means of self-knowledge, as indispensable as poetry.” — Anaïs Nin, In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays
“I walked into my own book, seeking peace. It was night, and I made a careless movement inside the dream; I turned too brusquely the corner and I bruised myself against my madness. It was this seeing too much, this seeing of a tragedy in the quiver of an eyelid, constructing a crime in the next room, the men and women who had loved before me on the same hotel bed.
I carry white sponges of knowledge on strings of nerves.
As I move within my book I am cut by pointed glass and broken bottles in which there is still the odor of sperm and perfume.
More pages added to the book but pageslike a prisoner’s walking back and forth over the space alotted him. What is it alotted me to say?” — Anaïs Nin, House of Incest
“What can I do with my happiness? How can I keep it, conceal it, bury it where I may never lose it? I want to kneel as it falls over me like rain, gather it up with lace and silk, and press it over myself again.” — Anaïs Nin, Henry and June
Collages by Val Telberg for Anaïs Nin’s House of Incest
“In the house of incest there was a room which could not be found, a room without a window, the fortress of their love, a room without a window where the mind and blood coalesced in a union without orgasm and rootless like those of fishes. The promiscuity of glances, of phrases, like sparks marryng in space. The collision between their resemblances, shedding the odor of tamarisk and sand, of rotted shells and dying sea-weeds, their love like the ink of squids, a banquet of poisons.”
“In some strange way I am not with you, I am against you. We are destined to hold two truths. I love you and I fight you. And you, the same. We will be stronger for it, each of us, stronger with our love and our hate. When you caricature and nail down and tear apart, I hate you. I want to answer you, not with weak or stupid poetry but with a wonder as strong as your reality. I want to fight your surgical knife with all the occult and magical forces of the world.” — Anaïs Nin, Henry and June
“She only believed in intimacy and proximity, in confessions born in the darkness of a bedroom, in quarrels born of alcohol, in communions born of exhausting walks through the city. She only believed in those words which came like the confessions of criminals after long exposure to hunger, to intense lights, to cross-questioning, to violent tearing away of masks.” —
Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin Vol. 1, 1931-1934.
House of Incest, Anaïs Nin
Photomontage by Val Telberg
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (Kenneth Anger, 1954)
“All that is sacred and taboo in our world is meaningless.” —
Anaïs Nin, from preface to Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer
“My first vision of earth was water veiled. I am of the race of men and women who see all things through this curtain of sea and my eyes are the color of water. I looked with chameleon eyes upon the changing face of the world, looked with anonymous vision upon my uncompleted self. I remember my first birth in water.” — Anaïs Nin, House of Incest
“Only the truth disguised in a fairytale, and this is the fairytale behind which all the truths are staring as behind grilled mosque windows. With veils. The moment I step into the caverns of my lies I drop into darkness, and see a mask which stares at me like the glance of a cross-eyed man; yet I am wrapped in lies which do not penetrate my soul, as if the lies I tell were like costumes.” — Anaïs Nin, House of Incest
“Worlds self made are so full of monsters and demons.” — Anaïs Nin, House of Incest