Two days in a row I’d recently read Anna Kavan books, and two nights in a row I had wicked nightmares. First it was a feverish dream of brutally killing unreal-dummy people I felt a harsh alienation to, slicing open their neck, blood gushing all over, in a terribly disaffected mood. Then I was pregnant. That should be enough to freak me out, but upon realising there was a person growing inside of me I couldn’t stop envisioning super gore images of the baby ripping me open, blood streaming everywhere etc. etc.
The first story I read, in Julia and the Bazooka, related a woman just released from a hospital, going out, standing in the traffic seemingly intentional and describing the subsequent hit with a car and blood gushing down the streets and drowning people with it. Near the end of this gruesome vision she writes: “Since the universe only exists in my mind, I must have created the place, loathsome, foul as it is.” I knew right then it was love. What could I do but almost obsessively read more?
Sleep Has His House is up to now my favourite, an autobiographical book told in a ‘night-time language, a dialect we have all spoken during our childhood’ with fiercely strong imagery and crazy symbolism which is occasionally too obscure to grasp thoroughly but by which the reader can easily fill in the gaps in his own way, creating his own meaning and symbolism mixed with the writer’s. It tells the story of Kavan’s increasing withdrawal from the world due to a lack of warm human contact, until she’s left in the darkness that she created.
Kavan sometimes writes poetically but always precise, cold and detached which regardless make her stories relatable in a frightening way to those experienced in those certain moods. And I’m just kinda in love.
Or something like this may happen while you are out for a walk in the country: you feel yourself quite alone for an hour you haven’t seen one living creature, not even a dog or a horse in a field, you seem to be miles from anywhere. And then in this solitude, out of the bushes at the side of the road, a sly face looks out at you, the face of an old man with a beard and a big hat such as is seldom worn these days. Just for a second he looks out at you. It’s really surprising to meet anyone in such a lonely place; but instead of saying Good day, he draws back, disappears into the wood, and you don’t see him again. What is it makes you feel this this old man has been watching you, perhaps following you for some time, hidden among the trees: that he has perhaps been sent to that out-of-the-way spot on purpose to see and report afterwards which track you are following, whether you turn to the right or the left at the crossroads at the foot of the hill?
Nobody knows the exact significance of those feelings which all of us have experienced: but that they bear some relation to our close surveillance by the authorities appears certain. if only it were possible to find out something definite. One feels under constant observation. One has the conviction that every trifling act is noted and set down either against one or in one’s favour. And at the same time one hasn’t the faintest clue to the standards by which one is being judged. How is it possible to avoid anxiety and indecision when a move of any kind involves the whole of one’s future status.
From Sleep Has His House