Anais in the House of Mirrors

Part of The Anais Plays, Anais in the House of Mirrors  presents Anais, “a beautiful woman in her thirties or forties,” speaking to us from a room that looks out over her back garden.  She says everyone carries a private tragedy that she mourns all her life.  She says her father abandoned his family when she was eleven, and her mother crossed the ocean with her to live in New York, where she started writing her journal as a love letter to her father to persuade him to come back to them.   The house in New York was full of mirrors and she hoped that, in one of them, she would see her father looking over her shoulder and she dreamed that he came out of the mirrors to hold and comfort her.  She says she felt closest to him when he was spanking her, but if a parent abandons you nothing can ever make it right again.  She says her father locked “us children” in a room and beat her mother and then locked the mother up and beat the children.  She says she has a memory of her father doing something to her in the attic but she’s not sure if it’s a real memory, and her father, years later, said she was a liar just like him.  She tells us she was proud her father wrote to her as if she was an adult, speaking of all the women he was sleeping with.  Her diary was the only way she could make sense of her life.  When she turned thirteen, people started falling in love with her, first her cousin Eduardo—who really wanted boys—and then Hugo, whom she married.  Hugo’s hero, his old professor from Columbia, declined to sleep with her because he didn’t feel right about cheating on his mistress.  In Paris, she met Henry, whose writing overwhelmed her.  When Henry’s wife June showed up from New York, she fell madly in love with her.  June could make any man do anything she wanted but she thought Henry was a genius and supported him.  When she left, Anais says, she and Henry started doing it in every way it was possible to do it.  Hugo refuses to believe that she is unfaithful, but then reads her journal about having intercourse with Henry.  She says he read the red diary which is fictional; her green diary is the truthful one.  She tells us that Hugo came home unexpectedly while she and Henry were in bed, but Henry managed to crawl out a window.  After that, Hugo always told her exactly when he would be home, but she kept Henry there until the very last moment.  She went to see Eduardo’s French psychoanalyst who, the moment they got naked, started whacking her buttocks with a whip and talking like the villain in a dime novel about the circus.  She got the giggles and advises us never to giggle at a Frenchman with a whip.  She met one of his patients, Antonin Artaud, who fell hopelessly, miserably, in love with her so she slept with him, feeling she owed it to art.  So, now she says, she’s sleeping with four people but still hasn’t found what she’s looking for.

She says she feeds off chaos, sleeping with three or four different men a day, but then she got word from her father that he wanted to see her.  She tells him the most horrible thing a person can do is abandon a child.  He says the most horrible thing is to betray yourself.  She makes love with him and agrees that they have always belonged together.  She breaks up with Artaud and the French psychoanalyst and writes in great detail in her journal about how it feels to have intercourse with her father.  Her father asks her never to write about their incest in her diary but she says she can never betray her diary.  She talks to the psychoanalyst Otto Rank and then sleeps with him (although he looks like a frog), but he helps her understand that deep inside all betrayed children is the profound need for revenge.  She abandons her father the way he abandoned her.  She still wants to be loved but knows that love makes us miserable.  She says that her diary is all she is; the only truth is that she is what she writes.  She says that everything she’s told us is the truth, except for the lies, which were for our own good.  She has a dream that her father is knocking on her door in a rainstorm, screaming that he loves her and wants her to let him in.  She says he is an ugly little man, turns off the light and goes to bed.

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