i am planning another trip to the anais nin archive at UCLA. i last went there three years ago to do research for my MA thesis on the critical reception of anais nin’s work. it was a spiritual experience.
i admit that i have a thing for “originals.” i was surprised that i was allowed to handle nin’s journals, letters, papers, ephemera, without any gloves. and i thought, “i am holding anais nin’s journal in my hand. i am running my fingers over her liquid-like lettering and i can feel the indentations of the pen…”
when i remember my archival experience, i can’t help but conjure Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” because i am sure that the stuff i hold is saturated with her aura.
i imagine the photo of Nin working at her very own Gemor printing press; she stands in a dark room, straight-backed, with one foot lifted and prepared to push down on the pedal of the machine. and i also think of the photo of Nin sitting on the floor of her bank vault amongst her original diaries. they are piled around her like little buildings and she sits smiling on a narrow street in the middle of her very own city.
i can’t wait to return.
maybe i am a sucker. or maybe i just believe that inanimate things carry energy inside them, making them anything but inanimate. maybe this is not the most “logical” thought. maybe it means that i believe in other-worldly, divine presences.
the first time i was in israel i was asked if i thought that things or places could contain holiness independent of human thought or desire. or if holiness is imbued upon a thing only through human interaction. in other words, is israel by itself a holy place? or is it only holy if humans give it meaning? (or, i suppose i should ask, is israel holy at all?)
yes i think it is people that give things holiness despite my being a sucker for, and my belief in other-worldly, spiritually enlightened encounters. because people have power to make thoughts into realities (“i now pronounce you man and wife”).
in any case, i am humbled by this contact with the remains of a life to which i feel deeply connected.