What do you think? How does this quote make you feel? Is Nin correct? Can man feel the same level of loneliness that a woman feels? I caste my vote with Nin.
“Man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in the woman's womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy. The memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. Woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. When man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child rearing and man bearing. Man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to be. But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934
Since I am not a man, I have no comparison as to how a man experiences loneliness the way I feel loneliness when I feel it. And I have no clue what a man experiences in the sexual act when he lies in the womb of a woman, as Nin puts it. Not sure what she means by "But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her." Not sure how that relates to loneliness. I think she means that is completion, wholeness or something or another. But that can only be momentary. One does not live connected that way to another all the time. Only for a moment can you share that intimacy.
Wholeness comes from within a person, whether male or female, for we are each unique individuals and you can't look outside yourself for fulfillment or completion, but one must look inward to find one's value, one's worth, one's self. Only by truly loving yourself, call it self love, can you be free of the need for the other to complete you. Being lonely at times is one thing. Loneliness is another thing all together. In the end we will each be alone in that final moment.
A priest once taught me the difference between loneliness and solitude. It remains the greatest gift any one has ever thought to give me. I will, however, disagree with you Cheryl on one small account. I believe that intimacy is something that can last forever, even when the one you love is gone. The woman that I loved and the only friend that I ever had passed away last year and I still know her embrace. I always will. The joy and appreciation of that intimacy is not in the least bit lessened.
I dont believe that it is a matter of man vs woman in the realm of loneliness. What one makes of being alone is up to the individual. I see both men and women subject themselves to doomed, miserable relationships so as not to be alone. The simple fact is this - loneliness is the renouncement of self. Solitude is the celebration of self. Man and woman are both every bit as capable of failing or achieving in this regard.
I understand where you are coming from, Gatzby, and in the greater sense of things, I do agree with you that intimacy can last forever. I lost my husband when I was 35 and there are somethings that never leave you, that will be forever locked away in your heart to re-experience whenever you wish.
I do think Nin was speaking however on a more prurient level of what happens in real time. And that moment of orgasm only exists when it occurs. As you one can't re-experience physical pain in the mind, it's a scientific fact, I tend to think that physical moment of orgasm experienced between two people in the moment can't also be recreated by the mind. The memory of the feeling of togetherness or being loved by someone can, I think. But I fear we are splitting hairs here. My point was that Nin was talking on a visceral level in time, which is why we repeat certain things or acts to recapture the feeling that is fleeting. Otherwise having done it once would suffice for life, don't you think?
Gatzby, I think you are quite right that intimacy can last forever. Thank you for this wonderful addition to this discussion.
Cheryl, thank you for your thinking on this Nin writing. She was, in my opinion, a person of enormous complexity and resiliency. After all these years, I am still not sure what to make of her save that she loved to slap tradition in the face for the sake of emotional living. She seems to have lived on the margin of impossibility for reasons that I do not understand, yet.
thank you kind sir. i am grateful for the opportunity to share with you all.
wow. Nin's diary passage can be interpreted in layers -- so how on earth do people communicate when one sits upon one layer and another approaches from of a completely different layer? (egads, language is complicated!) i only recognize the paradox -- man and woman are the same even as different. (Michealangelo brought clarity for me there -- that giant "eureka!" -- referenced by his sketches). and Gatzby (hi Sir!) ... on the definitions of the priests? -- well, those kindly and meek scholars have always impressed their wisdom and knowledge deep within my soul. i really liked the clarifiication between lonliness and solitude. even as words can become mumbled at times (or jumbled?), that kind of crystal-clear simplicity works for me.
Certainly, this is a poetic way to see things, and something not politically correct. It resonates with me. I think I understand the way a woman might see things, as the one who brings forth man. This is the Hebrew Scriptures way of seeing women, as mothers of sons (daughters not counted.) In my life, making love has been a strange and sometimes wonderful thing. So, I understand the image of fulfillment not as climax, but as in the being together. There is always the old canard that men want intercourse and women want touching. Anais Nin would disagree with this, I think. As for loneliness, I think both of us have the capacity for crushing loneliness that all the busyness in the world can erase it.
I think you're right, Cheryl. I'm glad it wasn't designed to be once for all time!
Gatzby, I never heard that, "loneliness is the renouncement of self. Solitude is the celebration of self." That is quite moving. I have occasionally felt lonely and when that was true, I was abandoning myself the way I was accusing others of abandoning me. I think I have learned not to do this now.