"A desirable but insustainable emotional state brought on by extreme excitement and some form of mystical expectation". This was how Peter Greenaway defined ecstasy in "Rosa, the Death of a Composer". It appears that the ecstasy was one of the main motors for "Anaïs Nin", both the person and Andriessen's newest piece of music theatre. Andriessen himself created the libretto that brings evidence of ecstatic moments Nin had with Antonin Artaud, René Allendy, Henry Miller and her own father, composer Joaquin Nin.
"Even when I possess all – love, devotion, Henry, Antonin, Allendy – I still feel myself possessed by a great demon of restlessness driving me on and on. I am rushing on, I am going to cause suffering; all day I feel pushed, pushed.
I cover pages and pages with my fever, with this superabundance of ecstasy, and it is not enough. I pace up and down the cave. I have Henry, and I am still hungry, still searching, still moving – I cannot stop moving.
Only Henry senses the monster, because he too is possessed. I too will leave a scar upon the world." (...)
This is how "Anaïs Nin" begins, by Nin's own words taken from one of her interviews. Few more excerpts from the libretto illustrate Nin's passions:
"Artaud – the face of my hallucinations. The hallúcinated eyes. The sharpness, the pain-carved features. The man-dreamer, innocent and diabolical, frail, nervous.
“Je suis le plus malade de tous les surrealistes.”
I was haunted by Artaud.
I met Artaud at the Viking. I was trembling. And then began a night of ecstasy. We left the café, we walked in a dream, in a frenzy, Artaud torturing himself with mad talk about eternity, God. We kissed violently; an ecstasy. He said: “Mon amour, mon grand amour! Entre nous il pourrait y avoir un meurtre.” (...)
First day of Father story. King Father arrives after conquering a paralyzing lumbago. Pale. Suffering. Impatient to come. He appears cold and formal. He conceals his feelings. His face is a mask.
He talked about his love affairs as I do, mixing pleasure with creativity, interested in the creation of a human being through love. Playing with souls. And I watched him. And I knew he was telling me the truth, that he was talking to me as I talk to my journal. That he was giving me himself. This self was generous, imaginative, creative. And at certain moments, inevitably untrue.
Meals were brought to the room. I wore my satin negligee. The hours passed swiftly.
Then he said, “You are the synthesis of all the women I have loved. I don’t feel toward you as if you were my daughter.”
“I don’t feel as if you were my Father.”
“What a tragedy. What are we going to do about it? I have met the woman in my life, the ideal, and it is my daughter! I’m in love with my own daughter!”
“Everything you feel, I feel.”
There was a long silence.
Father asked me to move nearer. He was lying on his back and could not move.
We kissed, and that kiss unleashed a wave of desire. And when his hand caressed me – oh, the knowingness of those caresses – I melted. With a strange violence, I lifted my negligee and I lay over him.
“Toi, Anaïs! Je n’ai plus de Dieu!"
My yielding was immense, with my whole being.
Anaïs Nin: Incest. From A Journal of Love. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers New York, San Diego, London Copyright 1992 by Rupert Pole All rights through: Gunther Stuhlmann.
Antonin Artaud, Oeuvres, Lettres à Juliette Beckers et Anaïs Nin. Édition établie, présentée et annotée par Évelyne Grossman, Éditions Gallimard, 2004.
René Allendy, L’Amour, Éditions denoël, 19, rue Amélie, 19, Paris VII, 1942.