Friday, April 4, 2014

Blogging from A - Z Challenge: April 4 D

D is for Delta of Venus

The following story is related by Anais Nin herself in the Preface to Delta of Venus. It is one of my favorite writer’s stories. I have poorly paraphrased it here, but I have copied exactly as she did, the letter she wrote to the collector below the story.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The Collector:

When Anais Nin was in Paris, the heady days when Henry Miller was her lover, none of them were published and all they did was drink their money away and talk about literature.
 Henry made a little money from writing erotica.
Apparently, he didn't like this job, felt it reduced and demeaned his work, but he had forged a relationship with a man he only knew as “The Collector” who paid handsomely for the words. Needing money, Henry wrote, the only specifications he had were to keep the description to a minimum and stay as close to the facts of sexual congress as possible.

Anais Nin, naturally became fascinated with this collector, and offered to write for him herself. It was agreed that she would be paid the same amount for her erotica (rather astonishing when you think about the way women and men still get paid today) and so she embraced this and sent The Collector one hundred pages.

She was paid one hundred dollars for her trouble, with only one instruction: Less poetry, be specific.
She took to writing again, more when her irresponsible writer friends needed money and the result was always the same; handsome payment with the instruction, Less poetry, more specific.

Fascinated by The Collector, soon all the friends started to write, but being literary types, all of them felt hampered by the fact that they were not allowed to write anything other than the specifics of intercourse. Anais Nin joked that the dryness of the collectors work, by necessity fed the beauty of the other writing they engaged in, the work around the work, because they felt so bereft having to write about sex in such a meaningless, cold and calculated way. All of them, male and female felt the same, stripped of their humanity when writing for him, filled with the vibrancy of love and life when they wrote for themselves.

Then one day, frustrated to the point of rage, Anais Nin wrote the collector the following letter:

“Dear Collector: 
We hate you. Sex loses all its power and magic when it becomes explicit, mechanical, overdone, when it becomes a mechanistic obsession. It becomes a bore. You have taught us more than anyone I know how wrong it is not to mix it with emotion, hunger, desire, lust, whims, caprices, personal ties, deeper relationships that change its color, flavor, rhythms, intensities.

You do not know what you are missing by your microscopic examination of sexual activity to the exclusion of aspects which are the fuel that ignites it. Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements. You are shrinking your world of sensations. You are withering it, starving it, draining its blood.

If you nourished your sexual life with all the excitements and adventures which love injects into sensuality, you would be the most potent man in the world. The source of sexual power is curiosity, passion. You are watching its little flame die of asphyxiation. Sex does not thrive on monotony. Without feeling, inventions, moods, no surprises in bed. Sex must be mixed with tears, laughter, words, promises, scenes, jealousy, envy, all the spices of fear, foreign travel, new faces, novels, stories, dreams, fantasies, music, dancing, opium, wine.

How much do you lose by this periscope at the tip of your sex, when you could enjoy a harem of distinct and never-repeated wonders? No two hairs alike, but you will not let us waste words on a description of hair; no two odors, but if we expand on this you cry Cut the Poetry. No two skins with the same texture, and never the same light, temperature, shadows, never the same gesture; for a lover, when he is aroused by true love, can run the gamut of centuries of love lore. What a range, what changes of age, what variations of maturity and innocence, perversity and art...

We have sat around for hours and wondered how you look. If you have closed your senses upon silk, light color, odor, character, temperament, you must be by now completely shriveled up. There are so many minor senses, all running like tributaries into the mainstream of sex, nourishing it. Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.”

I thought that was worth repeating.  


  1. I have to get a copy of these books. I never heard of them!

    1. Oh Krystol - You must. Anais Nin is one of the great inspirations for contemporary erotica writers. Hire the film "Henry and June" also. Its a very accurate portrait of Anais Nins affair with Henry Miller and her affair with his wife June. If you like that, which I have a strong feeling you will, you will love the books.