15 January 2010

the silvery holes of her sieve

Sabina felt lost.
  The wild compass whose fluctuations she had always obeyed, making for tumult and motion in place of direction, was suddenly fractured so that she no longer knew even the relief of ebbs and flows and dispersions.
  She felt lost. The dispersion had become too vast, too extended. A shaft of pain cut through the nebulous pattern, Sabina had always moved so fast that all pain had passed swiftly as through a sieve leaving a sorrow like children's sorrows, soon forgotten, soon replaced by another interest. She had never known a pause.
  Her cape which was more than a cape, which was a sail, which was the feelings she threw to the four winds to be swelled and swept by the wind in motion, lay becalmed.
  Her dress was becalmed.
  It was as if now she were nothing that the wind could catch, swell and propel.
  For Sabina, to be becalmed meant to die.
  Anxiety had entered her body and refused to run through it. The silvery holes of her sieve against sorrow granted her at birth, had clogged. Now the pain had lodged itself inside of her, inescapable.
  She had lost herself somewhere along the frontier between her inventions, her stories, her fantasies and her true self. The boundaries had become effaced, the tracks lost; she had walked into pure chaos, and not a chaos which carried her like the galloping of romantic riders in operas and legends, but which suddenly revealed the stage props: A papier-mâché horse.
  She had lost her sails, her cape, her horse, her seven-league boots, and all of them at once. She was stranded in the semi-darkness of a winter evening.
  Then, as if all the energy and warmth had been drawn inward for the first time, killing the external body, blurring the eyes, dulling the ears, thickening the palate and tongue, slowing the movements of the body, she felt intensly cold and shivered with the same tremor as leaves, feeling for the first time some withered leaves of her being detaching themselves from her body.
  ... she now could see the very minute fragments of her acts which she had believed unimportant causing minute incisions, erosions of the personality. A small act, a kiss given at a party to a young man who benefitted from his resemblance to a lost John, a hand abandoned in a taxi to a man not desired but because the other woman's hand had been claimed and Sabina could not bear to have her hand lie unclaimed on her lap: it seemed an affront to her powers of seduction. A word of praise about a painting she had not liked but uttered out of fear that the painter would say: "Oh, Sabina . . . Sabina doesn't understand painting."
  All the small insincerities had seeped like invisible rivulets of acid and caused profound damages, the erosions had sent each fragment of Sabina rotating like separate pieces of colliding planets, into other spheres, yet not powerful enough to fly into space like a bird, not organic enough to become another life, to rotate on its own core.
  ... And all her seeking of fire to weld these fragments together, seeking in the furnace of delight a welding of fragments, into one total love, one total woman, had failed!

Anaïs Nin, A Spy in the House of Love (1982: 92-3)