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February 18, 1972 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1972-02-18

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Fridoy, February 1$, 1972


Page Five

~rdi. Fbur 8 92TEMCIA AL

ANAIS NIN, Volume 1, 1931-
1934; Volume 11, 1934-1939;
Volume III, 1939-1944; Volume
IV, 1944-1949. Harcourt, Brace
$7.59, paper $2.95.
Author of several works of
fiction, two books of literary
criticism, and a book of short
s4ories, Anais Nin has finally
received international acclaim
through the publication of four
volumes of her diaries. The Dia-
ries, which span from 1931-
1949, focus on Nin's growth
and struggles in her writing
and personal life.
Nin' shares with us her
dreams, family difficulties, and
experiences in psychoanalysis.
She writes very compellingly of
her moments of frustration,
anxiety; creativity, and ecs-
tacK Ni's descriptions of her
relationships with other artists
and friends provide a fascinat-
ing view of the artistic world
of that period. She includes let-
ters from friends, and reac-
tions to the current world events
that are shaping their lives. Nin
struggles between a sense of
social awareness, and her belief
that the artist must continue to
create despite the madness of
wars and World chaos.
Volume One of the Diaries
describes Nin's emergence into
the cafe society of Paris. She
begins to establish contacts
with other struggling artists,
kpd by 1932 her first book, D. H.
Lawrence: an Unprofessional
Study is published. Nin de-
scribes the development of her
friendships with Henry Miller
And Antonin Artaud, and her
reconciliation with her father
who had left the family when
she was a child.
Nin has her first experience
with psychoanalysis with Dr.
Rene Allendy, and later seeks
therapy with Dr. Otto Rank.
She is exploring new ways of
living and is reaching out in
many directions for new experi-
ences and adventures.
In Volume Two, Nin goes to
New York City to work with Dr.
Iank and to become an analyst
herself. She becomes too involv-
ed with the lives of her pa-
tients, and loses her objectivity.
In the diary she writes ". . . I
.realized once more that I was a
writer, and only a writer, a
writer and not a psychoanalyst.
I was ready to return home and
write a novel." Nin returns to
Pars and enlarges her circle of
friends to includes writer Law-
rence Durrell, and the revolu-
tionary Gonzalo. She moves
into a houseboat on the Seine,
and writes three novelettes
which form her book Winter of

in: Ending the years

of Silence

Artifice. It is a time of fear
and despair. As the war ap-
proaches, it becomes apparent
that Nin and her friends must
leave Paris.
Volume Three describes Nin's
move to New York City and
her feelings of isolation and
loneliness there. Winter of Ar-
tifice had been published in
Paris but received little ack-
nowledgement, and copies of the
book didn't reach the U.S. cri-
ties. Nin is unable to f i n d
American publishers who are
interested in her writing.
She sees a coldness in New
York and the Americans she
meets sadden her. The cafe so-
ciety is gone. She finds solace
in new Haitian friends and in
the jazz and dancing of Harlem.
Nin begins to develop a circle
of friends which include Rich-
ard Wright, Canada Lee, Andre
Breton, Caresse Crosby, and
many others. She buys a sec-
ondhand printing press and,
with Gonzalo, she begins to
handprint her books. The first
book is Nin's book of short
stories Under a Glass Bell. After

and those of her friends. Much
of the material she uses in her
fiction comes from her diaries.
One can see experiences and
emotions reworked and clarified
to express a unified idea. Most
of her works involve the sub-
conscious world of dreams and
images. She is more concerned
with showing human psyches
than giving details about the
precise appearance and move-
ments of her characters.
In the diaries, and in Cities
of the Interior emphasis is on
the search of women to find an
identity. They are not content
to live through men and they
seek to create new lives with
meaning for themselves. In
Ladders to Fire, a part of Ci-
ties of the Interior, Nin writes
This seeking of man the
guide in a dark city, this aim-
less w a n d e r i n g through
streets touching men ,and
seeking the guide - this was
a fear all women had known
... seeking the guide in men,
not in the past or in mythol-
ogy, but a guide with a living
breath who might create one,

ideas of contemporary signifi-
Nin spoke at Northwestern
University in Chicago last Jan-
uary on "Women and Women
Writers". At that time she ar-
ranged to have a private talk
with several U-M students in-
cluding myself following her
speech. The following questions
and answers are taken from her
speech and the conversation we
had after the speech.
Q. You have received much
recognition recently as a woman
writer and as a member of the
woman's movement. How long
has this been going on and
how do you feel about it?
Anais Nin: The past two
years. Well, it was a surprise to
me. I thought I was doing my
own individual private thing
and I wasn't going to be pulled
out into some public role . . .
and it's a difficult one because
of the dissensions between wo-
men themselves, the splits . . .
The world I saw was not com-
plete. There are problems that
are political that we're talking
about today. For example, my
writing about the house, t h e
French servant. (She nearly
died of an abortion.) It never
occurred to me then that the
local woman could alter the
laws and make this person able
to have an abortion.
Q: I'm interested in what you
see as a way of women sup-
porting men through this stage
of transition and recognizing
the strengths they have and
working with them?
A.N.: Recognizing that they
have ,the same problems of lib-
erationas we have, that so-
ciety has made tremendous de-
mands on them, the cultural
patterns have made heavy de-
mands on them and that liber-
ation can only happen, as I
wrote a few days ago, simul-
taneously. The woman can help
to unburden the man, and
above all, I think, more import-
ant than how we can help each
other is that we ought to stop
blaming each other. What psy-
choanalysis has shown us is in
relationships we mesh uncon-
sciously and we play and inter-
play with each other in such a
way, so the blame, if there is a
blame, is a divided thing. And
I don't think it makes us any
stronger to put the blame on
society or on the man for what-
ever situation we find ourselves
in. but to find out how does this
meshing take place, how does
this psychological, perhaps neg-
ative, sort of relationship hap-
Q: How .did you discover the
need to write?,
A.N.: The reason I discover-
ed writing was a traumatic

thing. When I was nine years
old a doctor made a false diag-
nosis. I had appendicitis and he
said that I had tuberculosis of
the hip and would never walk.
So he put me in a cast. This was
in a very small town out of Bel-
gium, out of Brussels. The min-
ute I was put in a cast, you see,
I had to find some way of ex-
pression, I had to write. My
father brought me things to
paint but I really preferred
writing. I started to write por-
traits of the whole family and


newspaper and it said 'house-
boat for rent'. Of course, I went
to see it. It belonged to Michael
Simon. I got the houseboat, it
became a reality, it became a
short story, it became a novel,
it became a way of life at the
time of the war. I think it
would not have been started, if
first of all seeing the boat, but
then dreaming that I wanted it,
and then developing it to its
full meaning.
And it did have a metaphoric
meaning . . . it was . .. between
the right bank and the left bank
(of the Seine River in Paris),
and during the period that the
war (WWII) was coming on and
everybody was in despair, the
houseboat was like a Noah's Ark
It was the only place where peo-
ple could sort of regain their
strength because everybody was
running away and was very des-
Q: I wondered if organized re-
ligion played any part in form-
ing your writing?
AN: No, I'm detached from all
dogma. I think you can be re-
ligious without the dogma and
you can be political without the
dogma. ... At sixteen I gave up
Catholicism for that r e a s o n.
Particularly because it prevented
me from reading what I wanted
to read.
Q: How do you balance pas-
sionate living and the disci-
pline of work?
AN: They're never very easy
to balance . . . the discipline of
the writer is one that I really
have high respect for, but, at
the same time, I'm quite willing
to interrupt it if a great mo-
ment of life comes, or a visitor
or something that is worth-
while. It's a flexible discipline,
you see.
Q: Do you have any plans for
writing more fiction?
AN: No, because I don't see
the end of the editing (of her
diaries). The fiction separated
me so much from the world,
made a wall, that somehow I
prefer working on the diary
... because the diaries brought
the connections and the fiction,
for some reason, didn't .. .
Q: When I read the diaries
and the fiction, I was aware
that much in the fiction was
taken from the diaries, but they
did seem different as you pre-
sented them in d i f f e r e n t
AN: No, they're not really the
same. I feel that a step further
is taken in the fiction . . . so
the novels are something else
entirely. You can see the roots
in the diaries but they're trans-
formed into another dimension
. . . they go further.
Q: Do you not transform ex-

-Christian Du Bois Larson

Anais Nin at Macdougal Street handpress

Anais Nin 1963

a favorable review by Edmund
Wilson, she begins to become
noticed by the American public.
In Volume Four, Nin details
her friendships with Gore Vidal.
Edmund Wilson, Maya Deren
(a film maker), and a group of
homosexual young men whom
she sees as her "children". Nin
is working on her five volume
continuous novel, entitled Ci-
ties of the Interior. This por-
tion of the Diary ends with a
description of her cross-country
trip in a model 'A' Ford.
The Diaries provide a very
complex portrait of a woman
who writes on universal feelings
in a very personal way. She is
concerned with exploring and
understanding her own feelings

help one to be born as a wo-
man, a guide they wished to
possess for themselves alone,
in their own isolated woman's
soul. The guide for woman
was still inextricably woven
with man and with man's
. . . no one should be en-
trusted with one's image to
fashion, with one's self-crea-
tion. Women are moving
from one circle to another,
rising towards independence
and self-creation.
Nin was writing about this
struggle of woman before the
women's movement b e c a m e
such a well-known part of our
culture. A look at her fiction
and diaries indicates , many


Manny Farber's Negative Space'

Manny Farber, NEGATIVE
SPACE. Praeger, $7.95.
The name of Manny Farber is
a legendary one in the field of
film riticism, m e a n i n g that
everyone who reads about the
movies has encountered it in
passing, but few are familiar
with much of his work. Indeed
most of F'arber's concrete repu-
tation rests with the popularity
of a single brilliant, bizarre, and
utterly original 1957 essay, "The
Underground Film," which fre-
quently has been anthologized
with considerable influence on
the path of subsequent American
film criticism.
But besides this one essay,
Farber's works remained hidden
until now in their original places
of publication, back issues of half
a dozen non-film magazines from
The Nation to Cavalier, where
few film fans venture. A genuine
assessment of Manny Farber's
contributions to film criticism
seemed unattainable.
Yet suddenly as part of the
huge flow of recent film books
comes the unexpected event, the
publication of Negative Space,
An Important sampling of Far-
ber's film writing beginning with
1943. Although the essays here
constitute only a small percent-
age of Farber's total output of
film writing, there is enough in
Negative Space to convince us
readily that Farber's coterie
reputation is well deserved. Far-
ber's distinguished book immedi-
ately qualifies to rank with
James Agee's On Film, Pauline
Kael's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and
the recently released Andrew
Sarris book, Confessions of a
Cultist, as the best volumes of
film essays by a single author
ever published.
Who is Manny Farber? He was
the film critic for The New Re-
public from 1042 to 1946, for
'the New Leader in 1949, for The
Nation from 1950 to 1952. Then

wood "B" movie, the staunchest,
most articulate defender of the
low-class American film, which
Farber calls by his coined term
of "termite art." He is the
haunter of derelict movie the-
atres, the 42nd Streets of every
city, in search of the honest
movie: unpretentious, tight, log-
ical, and "masculine." He is the
espouser of mad causes, whose
weird film preferences make per-
feet sense ten years after he has
stated them.
Farber is a painter turned film
critic who, alone among film
critics prior to 1960, seemed to
really watch movies instead of
just listening to their screenplays
being- recited, who was keenly
aware of visual style in addition
to content. He is not only a cri-
tic but a film theorist-aestheti-
cian, whose theories derive loose-
ly from his paintings. Finally,
Farber is a genuine film lover
who, surprisingly different from
many critics, feels passionately
about the movies, including those
he hates. He is probably the
toughest of all critics to please.
Farber's unqualified loves are
few and they easily can be run
through. In 1943 he dedicated his
critical energies to building a
brilliant case for Warner Broth-
ers' Merrie Melodies cartoons,
expertly distinguishing a m o n g
the styles of three animators:,
"surrealist" Tex Avery, "show-
biz satirist" Bob McKimson, and
"c o m i c character" specialist
Chuck Jones (later of Road Run-
ner fame).
In the following years Farber
expanded his critical taste to in-
clude a series of tough-guy Hol-
lywood directors (Howard Hawks,
William Wellman, William Keigh-
ley ) who made slick, hard, but
unpretentious gangster and ad-
venture movies beginning in the
1930's. This bunch was labelled
by Farber "the most interesting
group to appear in American
culture since the various group-
ings made the 1920's the explo-
sive era."

tard. Farber's last cause in
Negative Space is Canadian un-
derground film-maker Michael
Snow. whose work Farber adores
without reservation. He calls
Snow's Wavelength, "The Birth
of a Nation" of underground
But outside of Farber's circle
of favorites lie the great bulk of
film-makers today. And in de-
scribing his dislikes, "the'water
buffaloes of film art," Manny
Farber is his most exciting, for
he is one of those critics who
seems most joyously inspired
when writing negative comments.
Furthermore his juiciest phrases
all are reserved time and again
for stabs at the most hallowed,
sacred of all films and film per-
sonages. Revered populist film
director Frank Capra is "strict-
ly a mechanic" who "character-
istically doublecrosses his social
criticism." John Huston is "a
smooth belnd of iconoclast and
sheep." The Quiet Man, the most
popular film of John Ford with
both audiences and critics alike
is "a bit worse than that potboil-
er, Willie C o m e s Marching
H o in e" (normally considered
Ford's most feeble work. Estab-
lishment critics' favorite film of
the 1940's, The Best Years of Our
Lives, is "a horse-drawn truck-
load of liberal schmaltz." And
the worshipped cultist film, Lola
Montes (Andrew Sarris's favorite
film) is "nothing but crazy ,
m a k e - u p, improbability, and
graceless acting." Other unfor-
tunate acting is to be found in
the in o d e r n French - Italian
movies featuring Jeanne Moreau
"Jeanne Morose") and Monica
Vitti ("Monica Unvitale".
What kind of film does Manny
Farber desire? He wants movies
which deal with people first in-
stead of themes, feeling that
many movies are "dehumanized
by a compulsion to grind out aI
message." He wants a genuine
nonconfirmity in film-making (as
with the crime movies of Sam1
Fuller), not fashionable liberal

the effect was of a highly at-
tenuated ballet." Farber objects
to both 1950's "method" acting
("acting in bits.. ..garish touch-
es of character and meaning")
and "the self-conscious langour"
of the modern European actor
ever since Antonioni created the
Flat Man, "a two-dimensional-
no past and no future." Finally
Farber wants audiences to stop
seeking out the pictures with ,he
big messages (usually the worst,
most over-bloated movies of even
the best of directors). Rather
they should look to what usually
is considered the most unlikely
place to find art: the action pic-
ture at the bottom of the double
Manny Farber is for "termite-
fungus-centipede art," a crazy
but ultimately meaningful term
for the artistic "B" movie. Says
Farber. "These are the only
films that show the director test-
ing himself as an intelligence
against what appears on the
screen." His ideal director bur-
rows into his pulp material and
transforms it miraculously into
a work of genuine ambience and
atmosphere, in which the style of
the picture is synonymous with
its message. This is the essence
of what constitutes Manny Far-
ber's beloved Underground Film,
a term which will be filled with
meaning for those lucky enough
to read Negative Space.

became, by a traumatic acci-
dent, a writer. But afterwards
that was established as a neces-
sity, and I always used to say,
when I finish the book I will
rest, and the next day I would
be at the typewriter again.
Q: How has your involve-
ment with flamenco dancing
affected your life?
A.N.: Music and rhythm were
very important to me but they
were secondary to the writing.
Whatever I did on the side, if I
learnedvabout painting or colors
or costumes or the dance, ul-
timately like rivers they wvent
back to the ocean and they be-
came something when I added
it to the writing. . . . I look for
that rhythm in writing and in
America I thought the writing
would have a tremendous pul-
sation and rhythm because of
jazz. I was always looking for
that in modern American writ-
Q: Is there anyone in psychol-
ogy today who satisfies you?
AN: I think that everything is
offered to us and we have to
make the selection. There are
women who have written about
psychoanalysis which is valu-
able to women . . . and women
will write more and more about
this. . . . I think woman will
now probably develop her own
psychonalytical theories.. . . But
I think that it is absolutely false
to say that it is of no use to
the development of women be-
cause there's two things that it
does: It gives you a sense of
having power over your destiny
and it helps you to peel off the
false selves, if it does nothing
Q: What do you consider to be
the relationship of dreams to
your life?
AN: I try, as much as possible
to live them out. The best ex-
amples I can give of that is vis-
iting the house of Maupassant
in Brittany. . . . A storm had
brought a ship into the garder
during the wildest part of that
storm and left it there. And
when I visited those people, I
had a desire to sleep in tha'
boat. And they said, no yot
can't, because it's full of garder
tools. Then I had a dream tha
night that I did get on the boat
and I made a twenty year jour.
ney on it.
The next day I went back to
Paris and I looked down at the

periences now that you're just
writing in the diaries?
AN: No, what may happen is
that from writing the fiction
one gets to write the diary bet-
ter. So that what may happen
is that I may one day write in
the diary something well done
. . . but, you know that there's
a development, like a musician,
the diary takes a feeling, it's
very simple and evasive,then
you start working on it as an
Today's Writers ...
Meryl Gordon is a third-year
English major who recently met
with Anais Nin in Chicago.
Gerald Peary is writing a
doctoral t h e s i s on gangster
movies of the 1930's.
artist and have variations and
developments. The struggle you
do with any craft, if you are
thinking, and you're trying to
find the words for the think-
ing, you're also finding words
that clarify the thought, clarify
your inner state, when you are
in a state of chaos. For ex-
ample, Miller (Henry Miller)
said that the writing pulled him
together, made a synthesis
when he felt most chaotic.
When I felt confused, the writ-

ing of the diary would clarify
the confusion more, than say
meditating or thinking about
the confusion.
Q: Have you stopped writing
in the diaries, and if so, why?
AN: I haven't stopped. The
diary staited as a letter to my
father and it may end as a cor-
respondence with the world, be-
cause I spend so much time
answering letters that I'm not
writing very much in the diary,
and perhaps that's the pur-
pose of it. Perhaps the whole
journey of the diary, I'm not
sure yet. I haven't thought this
out yet, may be communicating
with others and not needing the
diary. So I'm not alarmed by
the fact that I spend more
time answering letters than
writing the diary.
* * *
Anais Nin is presently living
in Los Angeles and editing the
fifth volume of her diary. At
sixty-eight she genuinely lilies
having student contact. "I'm
enjoying it now because for
twenty years I was living in si-
lence. The silence was really a
terrible thing." The growth of
the women's movement is very
exciting to her and she says,
"I'm glad if the diaries are use-
ful, I'm glad if I'm useful."



Get to knowt etwoof
Vo eoethe three of yO 0
Get to know what you both really like.
What you both really want out of life.
Get to enjoy your freedom together until you both
decide you want to let go of a little bit of it.
But make it your choice.
Research statistics show that more than half of all
the pregnancies each year are accidental. Too many
of them, to couples who thought they knew all about
family planning methods.
Get to know how the two of you don't have to
become the three of you.
(Or t-hcpfour' of vc -

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