There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it (15).
How can I tell Bob that my happiness streams from having wrenched a piece out of my life, a piece of hurt and beauty, and transformed it to typewritten words on paper? How can he know I am justifying my life, my keen emotion, my feeling, by turning it into print? (22)
Read widely of others' experiences in thought and action - stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl your goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself (47).
Being born a woman is an awful tragedy. ... Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars - to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording - all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night (77).
Why am I obsessed with the idea that I can justify myself by getting manuscripts published? Is it an escape - an excuse for any social failure - so I can say "No, I don't go out for many extra-curricular activities, but I spend a lot of time writing." Or is it an excuse for wanting to be alone and meditate alone, not having to brave a group of women? (Women in numbers have always disturbed me.) Do I like to write? Why? About what? (92-93)
I'm reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, and all of the above quotes are from her journals. I've read the abridged version before, this is a million times better.
Plath has been turned into a myth. But for me, the genius of her journals lies in the way they highlight how she was wholly a product of her times, and not a mythical, timeless entity. These journals convey a funny, intelligent, irreverent, serious, complex and warm human being, not a two-dimensional myth. There were times when I literally had to stop reading, despite my absorption, because it just hurt to see someone express thoughts I have had myself. I have collected a few images that I feel are appropriate companions to my own thoughts while reading Plath's.
Has anyone read her journals?
Image credits: 1. Sylvia Plath, 2. Untitled, 3. A room with a view, 4. Untitled, 5. Japanese star map, 6. Untitled, 7. Untitled, 8. Untitled, 9. Untitled.