There are many things said about Sylvia Plath. There has been much talk about her achievements, about her certain, autobiographic, dark and crushing poetry. It has been assumed a lot about her mental health, her lack of maternal love, about her contradictions, her fight, about her place in the feminist activism, about her life. That’s the thing about the artists: we focus on their lives to find what do they have, what does make them different, special. Their lives as a huge puzzle where we have to find the key piece where hides the magic.
Today, I don’t want to talk about the life of Sylvia Plath. Today I want to talk about her work. In particular, I want to talk about one of them that shocked me without the need of theorizing about what I wanted to explain. Today I want to talk about The Bell Jar. Published in 1963 under the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas, The bell Jar relates a year in the life of Esther Greenwood. To all those experts in the author, please forgive me. Today I don’t want to talk about the technique and theory issues behind that book.
I read the first page at 7:45 a.m. on a Thursday morning, in the red line of Barcelona’s subway, the tenth stop in the transferring to line 4. The end, a few days after opening the book, coming back home after a long day from work. I skipped the stop without realizing and I really didn’t care. There was only one doubt in my mind: Why is so bad to be sad? ¿Why I need a reason to be sad? I think those questions are still wandering in my mind. I believe I needed to read that girl testimonial of those years, of that depression turned into something bigger, those therapies that were given to who were different. Those thoughts about the words “mad”, “depressive”, “bipolar”, “anxiety”. How we incorporated all those problems in our language to define people, moments or situations that have absolutely nothing in common with what we name.
I would have loved to give Silvia Plath a hug. Some people say that she suffered from bipolarity. They say that they needed to dispense electroshocks on her. The say that she suffered and she was forbidden to.
Not long ago, I read the aesthetic theory of John Dewey. He talked about art and how it has to become something aesthetic, in something alive. He wondered what the arts were and why that kind of art was more valuable than others. If you ask me, I’d say that Plath made art in some Dewey’s way. She made art looking at the past, overcoming experiences, remembering decisions and turned it into something happened to be for everyone, something special and overwhelming itself. Something absolutely unique.
So many things have been said about Sylvia Plath, because she belongs to that circle of huge artists, to that group of women that broke all the patriarchal statements imposed in history. To those women who could become referents, to all who showed that history it’s not only written by the winners, that history belongs, even if we don’t want to see it, to those who teach that we have to know how to see.
But, overall, Sylvia Plath belongs to that type of woman that doesn’t keep her mouth shut, that type of woman who wrote a story that belongs to people who felt that bell jar falling over them. To the erased ones. To all the mad women of all times. She didn’t need to call out her suffering, she only needed you to feel it, to make us questioning why we blame sad people for being sad, why the world has imposed an unconscionable happiness as a rule. Why we are how we are and we think as we do. Hopefully, someday you will also miss your stop.