Anaïs Nin reads from ‘House of Incest’ with futuristic electronic soundtrack in ‘Bells of Atlantis’

Hugh Parker Guiler (1898–1985) was Anaïs Nin’s husband from 1923 until her death in 1977. He was a successful banker who used the name “Ian Hugo,” to keep his art and experimental filmmaking career separate from the disapproving financial world.

In 1954, “Hugo” made a short film called Bells of Atlantis, featuring Nin, who appears as a mythical queen of Atlantis, reading from her 1936 surrealist novella House of Incest and an electronic music soundtrack courtesy of Louis and Bebe Barron (who made a similar score for Forbidden Planet two years later). Kinetic artist Len Lye also worked on the film with Guiler.

From The Anaïs Nin Blog:

At a May 27, 1977 lecture, [Guiler/Hugo] said after screening his Bells of Atlantis... “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.”

Although the quality here is fairly beat—it’s all there is—just imagine how utterly visionary and weird this film would have seemed at the time it was made, contemporaneous as it was with the early work of Stan Brakhage and Kenneth Anger.


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Anaïs Nin on her feminist heroes (and LSD)
06:10 am


Anaïs Nin

Characteristically serene and sweet, diarist and erotic writer Anaïs Nin waxes poetic on some of her favorite rebellious women, including psychoanalyst Lou Andreas-Salomé (who could hold her own against Freud and Nietzsche) and Caresse Crosby, the infamous libertine, anti-war crusader and publisher of Joyce, Kay Boyle, Hemingway, Hart Crane, D. H. Lawrence, René Crevel, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound.

Nin expounds on her penchant for female rabble-rousers, as well as peacemakers, leading into her LSD experience (the drug was administered by Dr. Oscar Janiger) “a world accessible to the poet, accessible to the artist,” in which she “became gold.”

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Anaïs Nin: Talking about her Diaries, Henry Miller, Muses, Dreams, Art and Death

It is always good to have reader feedback on Dangerous Minds and recently Jenny Lens’ interesting comments on Anaïs Nin made me dust off my copies and revisit Nin’s books and diaries. This, of course, led me to check out what is available on YouTube, which uncovered these 4 clips, which appear to have been mainly taken from the documentary Anaïs Nin Observed (1974).

In the first clip, Anaïs explains how her diary started out as a letter to her father, and how it became an “inner journey.” This leads on to Nin reunited with Henry Miller where they discuss the importance of the artist as a liberator.

In the second clip Anaïs discusses art, the artist, and creative anger, concluding that she likes to “feel I have transcended my destiny.”

In the third, Anaïs discusses her favorite heroines, including Lou Andreas-Salomé, the Russian psycho-analyst and author, who was friends with Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Andreas-Salomé was one of the first to write psycho-analytically about female sexuality, long before she met Freud, and was his associate in the creation of psycho-analysis. Nin also talks about Caresse Crosby co-founder of the Black Sun Press, publisher of Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence and Ezra Pound, amongst many others, patron to the Arts, and inventor of the modern bra. Anaïs then goes on to talk about volume 5 of her Diaries and her experiences of taking LSD, and how she turned into gold. The clip cuts out just as Nin discusses not passing judgement on her characters.

In the fourth, Nin and Henry Miller discuss “death in life,” dreams and the importance of recording them, and whether analysis will destroy the need for them.

More of Anaïs Nin (and Henry Miller), after the jump…

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