Anaïs Nin, Anna Kavan

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“I have always admired Anna Kavan among the few writers who dared to explore the nocturnal world of our dreams, fantasies, and imagination. It takes courage and great skill in expression. As the events of the world prove the constancy of irrationalism, it becomes absurd to treat such events with rational logic. But people prefer to accept the notion of the absurd rather than to search for the meaning, the symbolic act which is quite clear in whoever is willing to decipher the unconscious. R.D. Laing writes in The Politics of Experience: ‘We all live in hope that authentic meetings between human beings can still occur. Psychotherapy consists in the paring away of all that stands between us, the props, masks, roles, lies, defenses, anxieties, projections ,and introjections, in short, all the carry-over from the past. Transference and countertransference that we use by habit and collusion, wittingly or unwittingly, as our currency for relationship.’

The writer who follows the designs and patterns of the unconscious achieves the same revelation. From the very first Anna Kavan went into this realm with The House of Sleep (a significant beginning) then with a classic equal to the works of Kafka titled Asylum Piece, in which the non-rational human beings caught in a web of unreality still struggle to maintain a dialogue with those who cannot understand them. In later books the waking dreamers no longer try, they simply tell of their adventures. They live in isolation with their shadows, hallucinations, prophesies. We admire the deep sea divers exploring the depths of the sea. We do not admire enough those who are able to describe their nocturnal experiences. Those who demonstrate that the surface does not contain a key to authentic experience, that the truth lies in what we feel and not what we see, or how we see it. Familiarity with inner landscapes would in the end illume the mysteries of the human mind. The scientist can report psychological findings but the writer has been there. His is a first hand report. And this is not a personal, unique voyage to the antipodes of the mind—the unconscious is a universal ocean in which all of us have roots.”

— Anaïs Nin, from The Novel of the Future amended to serve as an Introduction to Ice (not used so far) /via housesofsleep.tumblr.com

 

Illustration:

Ice-inspired illustration: a halucinatory half-frozen diorama, built and photographed by Kris Hofmann. The scene was built inside a kind of huge aquarium, filled with water, and photographed from every side as it slowly froze solid.

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