Guest post by Adam Barron
My parents, Louis and Bebe Barron, were close friends and collaborators with Anaïs Nin beginning in the 1940s. They recorded her reading some of her works and scored some of her husband Ian Hugo’s (Hugh Guiler) films with their ground-breaking electronic music. My mother told me that Anaïs was my Godmother, and she told me a story about the events surrounding my birth in 1959. I never believed it was really true until I looked up “Bebe Barron” in Anaïs’s diary index, and there was the story of a bizarre Greenwich Village baby shower, given by actress/filmmaker Maya Deren:
Maya Deren, a few years before she died, felt isolated from the community and tried to reintegrate her life in the most naïve way imaginable by giving Bebe Barron a “shower” for her expected baby, a traditional shower like the housewives of the West give, with pink decorations, pink pastry, pink-wrapped gifts. Because we loved Bebe we all joined in this celebration…
The pink shower party could not neutralize the studio, which was like a voodoo shack, filled with masks, drums, necklaces, shells, African baskets, textiles, pillows, and filled with friends provincial mothers would not have wanted around their babies, musicians, filmmakers, writers, electronic engineers, science-fiction writers, all such dangerous influences from a bourgeois’s point of view!
…Maya Deren could not permit this afternoon to remain innocent, bourgeois…and asked Bebe when she was expecting her child. Bebe told Maya in a few weeks, then Maya said: “You are wrong, it is coming much sooner, I can tell by the constellations and the formation of the clouds.” Suggestible Bebe began to have her child on her way down Maya’s stairs. (Diary 6 p. 350)
Was this power of suggestion, or the effect of an herbal cocktail Maya gave her, as my mother claimed? After the event, Anaïs started a short, but exquisite diary for me, with the story of my birth followed by blank pages in order for me to continue it someday.
Aided by my diary’s auspicious beginning, journal writing is now a vital part of my life. It helps me to relax, gain personal perspective, and record events for posterity. I’ve come to view Anaïs as the “good witch,” or Godmother, providing me life-giving forces to balance the negative ones I encounter. Sometimes I can feel Anaïs’s inspirational presence.
Following an extended illness, my mother passed away two years ago, after living a full life. Steven Reigns, the force behind 2008’s “Anaïs @ 105″ event, which my mother and I attended, loaned me a 1949 recording entitled “Anaïs Nin, Folio II, Reading From Her Own Prose Poem House of Incest (unabridged), Contemporary Classics, Sound Portraits, Louis and Bebe Barron.” It had been a very limited release on vinyl, all but lost today. I later purchased a copy myself.
The reading was beautifully done and the quality well preserved. Steven challenged me with: “Why not sell it as a CD?” Maintaining the original spirit, I had the recording cleaned up, and I designed a jacket cover and a booklet based on my mother’s liner notes, originally done in beautiful calligraphy. It was decided that all post-production profits will go to charities for Haitian relief. This collector’s-item-quality CD will be available for only $16.00 plus shipping.
The album is a tribute to the creative work of Anaïs and my parents, and to their strong bond and friendship. I hope it will delight existing and new Nin fans alike.
Stay tuned for ordering information.
A special note: my parents also recorded Anaïs reading stories from Under a Glass Bell, entitled “Folio I, Under A Glass Bell,” a recording that seems to be lost. If you have a copy, or know the whereabouts of one, please contact the blog editor here.
To see Bebe Barron’s last interview, which was presented at Anais @ 105, click here.
To see an excerpt of Bebe discussing cybernetics, click here.
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.
There has not been a conference dedicated to Anais Nin since the centennial conference in Santa Barbara in 2003. Sometimes Nin is included within the context of other conferences, such as the bi-annual Durrell conference, but rarely has there been a gathering unique to Nin herself. Before 2003, the last Nin major gathering was in 1994 at Long Island University, which was well attended by Nin scholars, family members, and friends from around the world. Last year’s Anais at 105 (organized and hosted by Steven Reigns) evening at UCLA is proof that interest is still there–the 300 seat auditorium was overflowing and dozens had to be turned away.
I, and others such as Ruth Charnock (see our guestbook), would like to gather opinions and feedback from potential speakers and organizers. Obviously, there needs to be a venue (such as a university), and there needs to be an infrastructure through which this could be accomplished. Perhaps this blog could be such a platform for organization–I am open to any and all suggestions. Please feel free to leave comments or to e-mail me at mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Electronic music pioneer Bebe Barron talks about her friend and mentor Anais Nin. Video by Ian MacKinnon and Steven Reigns.