Monday, January 28, 2013

Embellished by the chameleon mind

I finally finished (albeit power-skimming last 150 pages) The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, and I definitely think I would have been content with the heavily abridged version...
Nonetheless, when is it not enlightening to be exposed to the ramblings of a poet, especially Plath, with her bipolar disorder and sensitivity to the world?

It was greatly gratifying to be able to draw huge correlations between her journal entries and her famous poems (ESPECIALLY DADDY - it makes a ton more sense now; incredible how she was led to believe she killed him, due to a dream she had and the influence of her mother, whom she despised...).

For example, she wrote briefly on the death of the Rosenbergs, and the first line of The Bell Jar is "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

Quotes are below.
Writing is a religious act: it is an ordering, a reforming, a relearning and reloving of people and the world as they are and as they might be. A shaping which does not pass away like a day of typing or a day of teaching. The writing lasts: it goes about on its own in the world. People read it: react to it as to a person, a philosophy, a religion, a flower: they like it, or do not. It helps them, or it does not. It feels to intensify living: you give more, probe, ask, look, learn, and shape this: you get more: monsters, answers, color and form, knowledge. You do it for itself first. If it brings in money, how nice. You do not do it first for money. Money isn’t why you sit down at the typewriter. Not that you don’t want it. It is only too lovely when a profession pays for your bread and butter. With writing, it is maybe, maybe-not. How to live with such insecurity? With what is worst, the occasional lack or loss of faith in the writing itself? How to live with these things? The worst thing, worse than all of them, would be to live with not writing.
“I want to write because I have the urge to excel in one medium of translation and expression of life. I can't be satisfied with the colossal job of merely living. Oh, no, I must order life in sonnets and sestinas and provide a verbal reflector for my 60-watt lighted head.”

Ah, the two consider-taping-on-wall quotes for writers (feminist or not)...
“I hated men because they didn’t stay around and love me like a father: I could prick holes in them & show they were no father-material. I made them propose and then showed them they hadn’t a chance. I hated men because they didn’t have to suffer like a woman did. They could die or go to Spain. They could have fun while a woman had birth pangs. They could gamble while a woman skimped on the butter on the bread. Men, nasty lousy men.”
All girls feel like this at least one point in their lives, maybe.
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”

“I like people too much or not at all. I've got to go down deep, to fall into people, to really know them.”
“I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love's not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I'll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time...”
 Classic Plath quotes about being "horribly limited."

“With me, the present is forever, and forever is always shifting, flowing, melting. This second is life. And when it is gone it is dead. But you can't start over with each new second. You have to judge by what is dead. It's like quicksand... hopeless from the start. ”
Love the 3 below.
“Perhaps some day I'll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.”
“Yes, I was infatuated with you: I am still. No one has ever heightened such a keen capacity of physical sensation in me. I cut you out because I couldn't stand being a passing fancy. Before I give my body, I must give my thoughts, my mind, my dreams. And you weren't having any of those."
“Life has been some combination of fairy-tale coincidence and joie de vivre and shocks of beauty together with some hurtful self-questioning.”
SO - this is definitely a recommended read, although bear in mind that the most worthwhile sections to read are: the beginning (to get hooked on her fluid style), the bits with Ted (fascinating), and her rambles on her mother/father. The rest - inclusive of her botany-ranting, and extremely recurrent tales of two-timing - are informative, but not as meaningful to delve int (unless you're a Plath scholar, then that's a different story).

5 pages in and she will grow on you, I promise (warning: don't read if depressed, it won't alleviate the situation).