Meanwhile, we can go right on believing that we’re “good.”

Lafayette and Houston (You Know It Takes A Destructive Form, Yet You Have No Control Over It) ©MAIERMOUL
Lafayette and Houston (You Know It Takes A Destructive Form, Yet You Have No Control Over It) ©MAIERMOUL

Woman was supposed to be unselfish, devoted, helpful, nourishing. And if she departed from this sort of behavior for one moment, she felt burdened by guilt.

But Djuna begins to question it. “Am I really good” she asks, “or am I trying to fit a form, a structure, a pattern that was given to me?” She asks herself why she’s always involved in relationships with rebels, with people who aren’t bound in the ways that she is, irresponsible people who do whatever they want. Eventually she understands that she tried to cast out her own imperfections by putting them on to others. When we do this, we feel responsible for those “bad” people, because we know they’re doing something for us. They’re living in the dark side of ourselves. Meanwhile, we can go right on believing that we’re “good.” But Djuna discovers that these other people are more honest than she is, that she’s cheating by refusing to act out her dark desires. This is a difficult admission, but it has its compensations. If you cast your shadow, or your double, onto others, you will experience great anxiety. You’re responsible for this person’s life, and you know it takes a destructive form, yet you have no control over it. On the other hand, if it’s your own destructive drive, you can become aware of it and control it.

Anais Nin, Conversations with Anaïs Nin, Wendy M. DuBow, University Press of Mississippi

The magic beauty of simultaneity, to see the loved one rushing toward you at the same moment you are rushing toward him, the magic power of meeting exactly at midnight to achieve union, the illusion of one common rhythm achieved by overcoming obstacles, deserting friends, breaking other bonds– all this was soon dissolved by his laziness, by his habit of missing every moment, of never keeping his word, of living perversely in a state of chaos, of swimming more naturally in a sea of failed intentions, broken promises, and aborted wishes.

The importance of rhythm in Djuna was so strong that no matter where she was, even without a watch, she sensed the approach of midnight and would climb on a bus, so instinctively accurate that very often as she stepped off the bus the loud gongs of midnight would be striking at the large station clock.

This obedience to timing was her awareness of the rarity of unity between human beings. She was fully, painfully aware that very rarely did midnight strike in two hearts at once, very rarely did midnight arouse two equal desires, and that any dislocation in this, any difference, was an indication of disunity, of the difficulties, the impossibilities of fusion between human beings.

– Anais Nin, The Four-Chambered Heart