'Nin’s is the lengthiest and most complete record of any developing artistic
consciousness, Fitch writes. “For this reason, she has been called by some the
‘most important psychologist of women.'” Feminist Kate Millett, author of Sexual
Politics, called the diary “the first real portrait of the artist as a woman.”'
Nin spilled her secrets into a journal - or a sequence of journals. There is a photograph of her standing beside a pile of them - taller than herself, if I remember correctly. I have my own pile of journals started from when I was in my 20's almost as tall and certainly heavier than me and still growing. It started as an effort to be understand being alive. School, home and newspapers all provide what Mindell calls the consensual reality but in the darkness under the skin there are impulses not covered by logic or values. Into the journals went all the misfit thoughts and feelings. I wanted to understand, to observe myself unflinchingly. To be honest with myself. The journal is a paradox - at once honest and covert - diaries are a clandestine activity.
In her diaries, Nin constantly wrestles and writes about the dilemma of truth and fiction, autonomy and need. The incestuous abuse visited on her by her father must have shut the door to honesty for Nin at an early age . Later in life she had many secret affairs, two husbands, two separate lives on either coast of America. Lies were part of the fabric of her life. As was her copious writing. She wrote as in confession in her journals. And in her fiction she presented situations from her life, thinly veiled. Confession and hiding hand in hand. Ultimately, all our words are a kind of lie (the word 'moon' is not the actual moon).
And now this evening here I am currently spilling and spinning out words for my coming show. Spinning them out raw, polishing, excising, developing. Well unfortunately, not really. I am actually writing the publicity copy for the show tonight. Spinning and honing, honing the spin, hoping to hook the attention of the widest range of people possible. I offer 'confession' and promise the 'honesty' critics have praised my work for in the past. Although I am not a believer in absolute truths. There is the truth of the moment. There is the truth of the perspective.
Anyway, with the show, I am determined to take risks. Among other things, I am going to write, as Bukowski did (in New Poems, Book 4) about Writing itself. Presumptuous? Boring? Self-indulgent?
I shall put down the truth rawly, imperfectly, as I do when I write in my journal.
Then I will polish that rawness.
Who said this? To create truth onstage, you must lie beautifully.
Wish me luck.