Anaïs Nin’s Greatest Human Triumph

By 1973, Anaïs Nin and Hugh (Hugo) Guiler had been married for 50 years, yet neither of the two ever ceased trying to discover themselves or to understand their relationship. Also by 1973, Nin had for decades been splitting her personal life between Guiler in New York and Rupert Pole in California, trying (and not really succeeding) to keep the two men unaware of each other. In Nin’s unexpurgated diaries Mirages and Trapeze, we discover how Nin used her double life as a means of attaining a sense of wholeness—for in Guiler she had security, artistic understanding, a meaningful social life and access to medical and psychological care; in Pole, she had sexual passion and sensual fulfillment. Since there was seemingly no man alive capable of giving Nin everything she needed, she resorted to two—but this was by no means an ideal situation. As one discovers in Trapeze, Nin was often terribly frustrated by both the point of using each as someone to escape to because of the other.

Guiler, who was a complicated man with two distinct sides—a banker obsessed with money and a sensitive artist who dabbled in engraving and film— from the very beginning was unable to sexually satisfy his wife, who turned to multiple lovers six years into the marriage. Eventually, in 1947, she met the ideal lover in Pole. During that time, Nin was financially bound to Guiler—neither she nor Pole were capable at the time of supporting themselves alone. The arrangement led to resentment and a feeling of being trapped on Nin’s part, and as she spent more and more time away from Guiler, he began to realize he was losing his wife and, like Nin, turned to psychoanalysis to help cope with the situation. The dichotomy between banker and artist widened, and Guiler often felt inadequate as a banker (he had a habit of reckless speculation and was always trying to compete with his dead father, a successful businessman) and as an artist (he was, whether he admitted it or not, competing with his wife). The marriage deteriorated to the point when, in 1949, Guiler floated the idea of divorce by Nin—which, because of her need for security, she rejected. For the next three decades, the Guiler marriage stumbled from one crisis to the next, and, near the end of her life, she declared she and Guiler were “bad for each other.”

After Nin’s success with the Diaries in 1966, she became the breadwinner of the Guiler family. While she abhorred living with Guiler for even short periods of time because of his constant psychological and financial floundering, she would not divorce him out of a sense of gratitude for all he’d done for her—a sense she often labeled as “guilt.” Instead, she supported him and allowed him in his later years to continue filmmaking and to live a comfortable life. While Nin was resigned to the failure of the marriage, Guiler continued to see personal evolution through psychoanalysis and science, which brings us to a letter he wrote to Nin in 1973 after she had spent a “miserable month” with him:

New York, September 13, 1973

Darling: I am terribly sorry to have given you a miserable month after my return from Europe. I am so glad to hear that you have also recovered physically and emotionally. [Psychologist Inge] Bogner says it is crises like this one that strengthen us—or [give us] the ability to surmount them. But she has already helped by saying that most of what happened was due to forces (some of them world forces) that were not under my control.

Certainly it is now clear to me that I brought back from my work only the worries and the tensions, and that I could not expect you to understand that there were also many real satisfactions in the work itself. The truth is that I never really felt adequate in the business world, an inadequacy that was symbolized by my apparent difficulty with arithmetic. Great light has been thrown on this kind of problem by an article by a woman scientist [Maya Pines] in last Sunday’s NY Times. It is a long extract from a book, which Harcourt Brace is bringing out next month [The Brain Changers, 1973]. I hope you will see to it that they send you a copy. Essentially, scientific experiments have proved that our brain is in two segments—the right side inarticulate in language, mute, understanding only in images, and it is clearly related to our dream life. The left side is intellect, analytical (like a Virgo), and is something like a computer. [Each of] these two segments are locked under their own shell and normally connected by hundreds of fibers. But when these fibers are severed (as in the case of an operation for epilepsy) the result is two personalities in the same person, and the left, intellectual personality is always trying to give rational explanations of apparent irrational (or strange) reactions in the other. You helped me to keep these two personalities joined, rather than severed as they would have been with any other kind of wife. So I think that while my father had something to do with my actions, the whole thing is more mysterious than just that, and the woman scientist herself says that no one has been able to penetrate that area.

What is remarkable is how you have been able to throw so much light on an area [business] which was, as you say, alien to you, and in this sense you have achieved, for yourself, as well as for me, an extraordinary equilibrium, helped probably by your persistent efforts to be articulate, which in someone less balanced would have made a Virgo of you. In this sense your writing did more than make you a great artist, but also kept the connection between the two shells in a state of communication, and this to me stands out as perhaps your greatest human triumph.

Love, Hugo

While this letter could be filed under the “too little, too late” category (they would permanently separate only a year later), it certainly provides insight into how Guiler saw himself within the context of his marriage, and it demonstrates his recognition of Nin’s incomparable ability help others find themselves.

Hugh Guiler, New York, 1974

The Quotable Anais Nin is now in print!

The first print addition of The Quotable Anais Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations is now available for purchase. Not only does this volume contain most of Nin’s iconic quotations, it also includes many which are either largely unknown or previously unpublished. And all of them are cited with book titles and page numbers, not to mention that some of the myths surrounding Nin’s quotes are dispelled.

quotablecoverDivided into sections (Lust for Life, Love and Sensuality, Consciousness, Women and Men, Writing and Art), all of the entries are sorted by book titles and page numbers, making it easy for readers to find the quotes they are looking for.

An example of a quotation is the following, found in the section Lust for Life is as follows: “I want to live only for ecstasy. Small doses, moderate loves, all half-shades, leave me cold. I like extravagance.” —Diary 1, pg. 174

Or this, found in the Consciousness section: “The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” —Mirages, pg. 287

Rare photographs of Nin along with six engravings by her husband Hugh Guiler (aka Ian Hugo) decorate the pages, making this book a work of art as well.

It is the perfect way to possess the best of Anais Nin’s quotations and perhaps the perfect gift for the literarily inclined or those seeking inspiration and aha moments.

To preview or order the new PRINT VERSION, click here.

To order the EBOOK version, click here.

As you probably know, it is one of the missions of Sky Blue Press to keep Anais Nin’s flame alive, so please spread the word about this newest effort. Thank you.

Volume 4 of ANAIS: An International Journal released on Kindle

When Volume 4 of Gunther Stuhlmann’s ANAIS: An International Journal appeared in February 1986, Anaïs Nin’s husband, Hugh (Hugo) Guiler, aka Ian Hugo, had recently died suddenly in his New York apartment. Long the “silent” partner of Nin, the “East Coast” husband and banker-turned-artist whose experimental films are still revered today, Guiler is the main focus of this issue, with a remembrance by Nin’s brother Joaquin, excerpts from interviews and studies, his own thoughts on the arts of engraving and making movies as well as recollections of growing up in Puerto Rico and Scotland under extreme conditions, which influenced his life and art.

"Ian Hugo" from a photomontage by Val Telberg

“Ian Hugo” from a photomontage by Val Telberg

Also included in this issue is critical correspondence between Anais Nin and Henry Miller at the dawn of their relationship, most of which is focused on their respective writing efforts. These letters make it clear how much one influenced the other’s work, from Miller’s unadulterated criticism of Nin’s use of the English language to Nin’s efforts to keep Miller focused on the essentials in light of his tendency to go off on tangents and to exhaust every thought running through his over-active mind. We are given tangible examples of how Miller’s commentary on Nin’s fiction actually found its way into the finished products.

There is a study on Otto Rank by Nin scholar Sharon Spencer, whose hypothesis that Nin and Rank were lovers was spot on, and a look at Nin’s friend Caresse Crosby and her famed house, Hampton Manor, which attracted the likes of Nin, Miller, and Salvador Dali, among many other artists in the early 1940s.

To preview and/or order volume 4 of ANAIS: An International Journal, click here.

To preview and/or order ANAIS volume 3, click here.

For volume 2, click here.

For volume 1, click here.

To view other new Nin-related publications, click here.

The Barrons: The music behind ‘Bells of Atlantis’

Bebe and Louis Barron in their studio

Bebe and Louis Barron in their studio

If Anais Nin was known for her diaries, she should also be known for her circle of friends, which included the electronic music pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron. The friendship ultimately turned into collaboration with Nin and Ian Hugo (Hugh Guiler, Nin’s husband) on his experimental film Bells of Atlantis (1952). The music and images work together to provide the audience with a full range of stimulation, both aural and visual, not to mention literary as Nin recites lines from her House of Incest (1936), upon which the film is based. Thanks to NPR, a retrospective of the Barrons and their impact on the music world can be seen here.

Bebe Barron died in April 2008; a video of her last interview can be seen here, conducted by Steven Reigns and Ian McKinnon.

Ian Hugo: Filmmaker

ian-hugo

When Hugh Guiler, Anaïs Nin’s banker husband, began his artistic career as an engraver, he chose to use the name Ian Hugo, supposedly so that his art would be separate from his career. In Guiler’s mind, there was a sense of intolerance between the financial and artistic worlds, and he did not want the two intertwined. Guiler’s engravings found their way into Nin’s hand-printed editions during the 1940s, perhaps most notably the Gemor edition of Under a Glass Bell (the promotional photo of which can be seen on the cover of A Café in Space, Vol. 2). By 1950, Guiler began experimenting with film and became a truly respected avant-garde filmmaker, using superimposition and other effects to reflect his vision on the screen. 

 

At a May 27, 1977 lecture, he said after screening his Bells of Atlantis (based on water images presented in Nin’s first work of fiction, The House of Incest, and in which Nin appears and narrates): “Thank you for your kind response, which I am sure is also meant as a tribute to Anaïs Nin. I do think that this film does bring her closer to you—to her style as a poetic writer of the first order, and her presence as an extraordinarily sensitive, and warm human being. I can certainly testify personally to this through the almost 54 years that we were married, to the time of her death in January of this year.” (It should be pointed out that there was an audible gasp by the audience, since they only knew Ian Hugo as an artistic collaborator of Nin.) “And I will add that her physical beauty seemed to glow as if from some inner light which, as I now see more clearly, enabled her to explore, day by day, ‘the lost continent within ourselves’ (a phrase by the poet Marianne Moore in referring to Bells of Atlantis). And it is only now that I fully realize how much I owed to her presence and her encouragement all those years in trying to explore my own ‘lost continent’ which I first tried to reach out to in making this film.” The complete lecture will be published in next year’s A Café in Space.

 

The 9 minute film, finished in 1952, with a score from electronic music pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron, can be viewed (in less than pristine quality) by clicking here. (Courtesy of UbuWeb) There is also a filmography of Guiler’s work, thanks to Robert Haller.