...following one's instincts alone is human, that faithfulness in love is unnatural, that morality is man-made ideology, that self-denial, which is necessary to be good, is denial of the bad natural self out of self-protection, and thus the most selfish thing of all.
Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) began her diaries at age 11 years old as a personal letter to the father who deserted her, her mother and brother. It became a necessary part of her existence, written with melodic lyricism of sex and love. Worked and reworked into a hefty fifty year record, it took the shape of a hybridized art form, serving as a confessional and confidante, a scribbler's notebook, an extremely candid autobiography, a self-research project, and to those who knew her personally, a literary monument interspersed with fiction; leaving many critics to call it a 'journal-novel.'
Fire flows like a continuous intimate moment focused on the many facets of love, covering Nin's multiple romantic relationships from Hugh Guiler (her husband), simultaneous liaisons with Gonzalo Moré and Dr. Otto Rank (her psychoanalyst) to name a few, to the long standing, complex affair with Henry Miller. Set between Europe and America, Nin paraded alternately as friend, paramour, muse, seductress, artist, woman; duplicitous, illusive shape-shifter.
The entries stand as an authentic, reflective self-exploration, an unrepressed, uninhibited, immodest record of her life, without artifice or shame or apology. Nin habitually wrote as soon as events happened to preserve their emotional power. She faced her writing with the obsessiveness and desperation of an addict needing her 'opium' . Without it, she felt neither real nor original nor alive.
Intimate thoughts and emotions pulsate through her pen organically, passionately, sensually, frenzied. More than mere scribblings of unregulated emotions, Nin self-analyzes with insight deep and incisive, of a degree less from an intuitive or sharpened sense of perception than a honed, disciplined psychoanalytic understanding of human behavior.
Gonzalo is a sensual volcano, afire, never enough. I am ready to ask for mercy! I did not believe, after all the idealism, the chastity, the emotionalism, that we could descend into this furnace of animal desire. Now it is several times in one moment, until we lie dead with exhaustion. He smears his face with honey and sperm, we kiss in this odor and wetness, and we possess each other over and over again madly. Yet I cannot have an orgasm. Why, why, why?
Fire, a small but flammable portion of what must be a complex, multi-layered set of journals, is as fascinating as a novel compact with sensational characters all portrayed in vibrant colors. Crafted by the tool of a skilled artist - as a woman with the beauty of Venus and the sensual power of the feminine mystique; as a writer with the elegant hand for sultry, poetic prose and a touch of the surreal; as an unbound dabbler in the unconventional and an astute analyzer of it - it is obvious that Nin's greatest creation is herself.
I live in a sort of furnace of affections, loves, desires, inventions, creations, activities, and reveries. I cannot describe my life in facts because the ecstasy does not lie in the facts, in what happens or what I do, but in what is aroused in me and what is created out of all this... I live in a very physical and metaphysical reality all together...
Fire clearly represents the feverish push toward Nin's most ardent desire; the neurotic, breathless, unbridled motion toward satisfaction, the climactic discovery, that is to say - the ultimate knowing and understanding of herself.
This is the story of my incendiary neurosis! I only believe in fire. Life. Fire. Being myself on fire I set others on fire. Never death. Fire and life. Le jeux.