'House of Incest' by Anais Nin (1936)


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. 

I am ill with the obstinacy of images, reflections in cracked mirrors. I am a woman with Siamese cat eyes smiling always behind my gravest words, mocking my own intensity. I smile because I listen to the OTHER and I believe the OTHER. I am a marionette pulled by unskilled fingers, pulled apart, inharmoniously dislocated; one arm dead, the other rhapsodizing in mid-air.

 I laugh, not when it fits into my talk, but when it fits into the undercurrents of my talk. I want to know what is running underneath thus punctuated by bitter upheavals. The two currents do not meet."

There is a fissure in my vision and madness will always rush through. 

I am the most tired woman in the world. I am tired when I get up. Life requires an effort which I cannot make. […] I know that I am dead. As soon as I utter a phrase my sincerity dies, becomes a lie whose coldness chills me. Don’t say anything, because I see that you understand me, and I am afraid of your understanding. I have such a fear of finding another like myself, and such a desire to find one. I am so utterly lonely, but I also have such a fear that my isolation be broken through, and I no longer be the head and ruler of my universe. I am in great terror of your understanding by which you penetrate into my world; and then I stand revealed and I have to share my kingdom with you.
But Jeanne, fear of madness, only fear of madness will drive us out of the precincts of our solitude, out of the sacredness of our solitude. The fear of madness will burn down the walls of our secret house and send us out into the world seeking warm contact.

In the house of incest there was a room which could not be found, a room without window, the fortress of their love, a room without window where the mind and blood coalesced in a union without orgasm and rootless...

If only we could all escape from this house of incest, where we only love ourselves in the other, if only I could save you all from yourselves.

We all looked now at the dancer who stood at the center of the room dancing the dance of the woman without arms. She danced as if she were deaf and could not follow the rhythm of the music. She danced as if she could not hear the sound of her castanets. Her dancing was isolated and separated from music and from us and from the room and from life. The castanets sounded like the steps of a ghost. She danced, laughing and sighing and breathing all for herself. She danced her fears, stopping in the center of every dance to listen to reproaches that we could not hear, or bowing to applause that we did not make. She was listening to a music we could not hear, moved by hallucinations we could not see. 

She looked at her hands tightly closed and opened them slowly, opened them completely like Christ; she opened them in a gesture of abandon and giving; she relinquished and forgave, opening her arms and her hands, permitting all things to flow away and beyond her.
I could not bear the passing of things. All flowing, all passing, all movement choked me with anguish.
And she danced; she danced with the music and with the rhythm of earth's circles; she turned with the earth turning, like a disk, turning all faces to light and to darkness evenly, dancing towards daylight.