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The Bell Jar

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I’ve read this book of Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, and it made me think of all sorts of things at once. I probably started to read it because of my fascination about the works of weird and extraordinary intellectuals such as Carlo Mollino, Andy Worlhol, Sylvia Plath herself, and Max Beckmann who once said, “My heart beats faster for a raw, average, vulgar art which doesn’t lie between sleepy, fairy-tale moods and poetry, but allows direct entrance to the fearful, commonplace, splendid and grotesque banality of life.”

Sylvia Plath’s book is about a teenage girl suffering a nervous break down due to high expectations set by herself and social circumstances but being a fragile and poetic person in heart. The book is said to be semi-biographical and deeply sincere. Sylvia Plath ended her life having committed suicide at the age of thirty. After having learned all these facts, sure enough I thought that the novel would be just my cup of tea:) It turned out that The Bell Jar was Selinger-meets-Kesey type of reading, and thus brilliant.

One thing I thought about was that how breakable we were. Once full of energy some accident can interfere with a tiny cell of our body or a neuron and the whole system fells broken. Physical and psychological sides of ours are just as thin and interdependent as frozen water crystals forming the ice. We can break and then, as Sylvia Plath puts it, one may feel “like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion collage footballer (…), his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.”

I see a lot of misfortune around, or dissatisfaction with life, or experiencing serious health problems… One of my friends and a co-worker was fired without any legal reason or sufficient basis. My husband experienced lie and lack of support from the person he considered a friend for a long time. Another friend of mine had to have surgery done after which she developed blood clots in her lungs. One of my clients is unfairly dissatisfied with his body despite of all the hard work and healthy eating he does. Often, I myself feel stuck among concerns, anxiety and fears. But I tend to believe life is a sea and we traveled spectacularly far to be where we are now. We swam across a wide and wild sea and we made it all the way to the other side. That it feels different here on this shore than we thought it would does not negate the enormity of the distance we traversed and the strength it took us to do it.

The second though that came to my mind after reading Sylvia Plath’s novel is that how do you define a real insanity from the normal reality? I mean all those “crazy” thoughts occurred at least once to everybody one day or another. More over, we often do even “crazier” stuff in life than the one we just think of. Despite of all the efforts of the author to assure me in the teenage girl’s temporary insanity, I still am not convinced. And I probably won’t as it is too easy for me to imaging the tricks of an ill mind:) I think we all crazy in one way or another.

This “craziness” issue made me think of other, neglected, weirdoes. Especially after the resent Colorado tragedy. Linking the issue and the tragedy, there is one unbelievably controversial movie We Need To Talk About Kevin. In light of the shooting tragedy, this movie seems to be very timely. Why would anybody even be able to commit such a crime? What if it is your kid who did this? Like it or not, we need such books and such movies in order not to be unicellular but to feel and to think instead.

Leaving an airy, flowing, smartly ironic and wonderful language aside, I am glad there are such books as The Bell Jar. From a cold observer they move us to a sensual, thoughtful and complex form of life.

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