Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plathology - Welcome!

This blog was semi-inspired by a friend. She created a blog and I mentioned I had intended to. Jokingly, knowing my devotion to Sylvia Plath, she said I should make one called "Plathology" and tying everyday life to Sylvia Plath. I thought "genius!" and thus, Plathology is born. This first blog will simply be about HOW I became Plathalogical. It all began with a movie that I connected with on a very personal level- 10 Things I Hate About You.

Besides falling head over heels in love with Heath Ledger I wanted to be just like Kat. I know-she's a bitch- but I was at that point in my life when I was done with bullshit and thought she had just the right take on things (and to clarify, I was 14 at the time). Kat was into the deeper things in life and was tired of the mundane interests of the shallow people around her. More than anything shallow people annoyed me. Kat had a popular younger sister who was everything she wasn't and everything she stood against; I had a younger sister who was everything I wasn't and everything I stood against. Kat was into literature and great female writers; I wanted to get into the literature of great female writers. At one point Kat is reading a copy of the Bell Jar and it was there, in that theatre where I had to sit with my mom because my sister didn't want us sitting with her and her friends, I vowed to be a feminist.

The feminist thing didn't exactly pan out, I like not having hairy armpits. However, one day three years later I was at a Barnes & Noble where I saw a poster for the Bell Jar which reminded me I had always intended to buy that book. It was my 17th birthday. I recall standing there with a hardcover in one hand and a paperback in another debating if it would be worth the hardcover since I was determined to like it even though I had no idea what it was about. I ended up getting the paperback, which honestly wasn't a bad idea because I highlighted that thing to death and made notes in the margin, but it would have been worth the hardcover.

On the following day (because a girl is very busy on her birthday) I was examining my new book. I love books, I have always loved books and before reading a book it must be throughly examinied and admired. How does the cover feel? I remember it being smooth like Dove Chocolate. What is the texture of the pages? Who wrote this book, what is their story? And then it began, the reading of that back cover where there was a picture of a young woman with a caption that read "Sylvia Plath 1932-1963". I am aweful at math but it wasn't difficult to discover she died very young and I became unexplainbly obsessed with trying to discover how someone who lived such a short life had made such an impact in literature. Of course, knowing now her story, the fact that she lived such a short life is what makes her so interesting.

I have an August birthday so a week later when school began I was in American Literature (which was an English III honors course if I may brag). If I could sum my Junior year up in 3 things it would be, in order of importance: Sylvia Plath, German and Theatre and all three tied directly into on another. One of our first assignments in American Literature was to read a biography about an American, any American. Still intrigued by the short life of Sylvia Plath-which through internet research I had discovered she had taken her own life- I chose her over Eleanor Rosevelt (another one of my idols). I recall I couldn't put it down, everything about her had been so very interesting from her parents coming from German and Polish backgrounds (which I was taking German I at the time and totally loving it) to the sudden death of her father and the marraige to Ted Hughes. Perhaps this could be attributed to the biography being so well written but I remember when she was unhappy after her son was born and Ted running off all the time leaving her unhappy I yelled at the book "TED YOU'RE KILLING HER!" and I hurried to the end praying that it didn't end the way it had to end, as if I could will her to live.

After I read that biography that was it. I hadn't even read the Bell Jar yet because I knew we had to read a novel by an American Author and I had chosen the Bell Jar so I was saving it. We had to do a presentation on our person and we needed visiual aids. I set up a table with a box designed to look like an oven then when you opened the door there was a collage of her life as well as my copy of the Bell Jar.

When I actually read the Bell Jar I took my time. Having already read a biography about her I knew that was it. That book and her poetry were all that had survived her rage and her death as well as the filter of the Hughes (why, Sylvia, why couldn't you have waited 2 more weeks for your divorce to be final before you killed yourself so Ted's sister wouldn't have a say in all of your unpublished work!). I read it and I loved it. I read it 3 times in a row going over it with highlighters and pens and pencils. I went online and researched everything I could, found all of the fanatic sites I could find and still it wasn't enough. I bought a copy of her Collected Poems and read everyone of them and still it was never enough. Later that year, closer to spring, I was browsing in the biography section of Barnes & Noble, which I did on occasion, to see if there were any more biographies of Sylvia Plath, anymore angles I could get. I was always unsuccessful until that day when I found the Sylvia Plath Bible (also known as the Unabridge Journals of Sylvia Plath). Angels sang, heavens opened and a light shined down upon me as I pulled that book off the shelf. Today I work at that very Barnes & Noble and I can't stand in that very spot of the store withough reminicing, just a little, the moment I found the Sylvia Bible.

Our final project in American Literature was to study a poet through the eyes of a mouse (as if we were a mouse in this poets home). I was banned from Sylvia Plath. My teacher knew that I had acted out an excerpt from the Sylvia Bible in my monologue unit in my theatre class and that for a Top 10 in the 20th century.... project Ihad to do in American History I had chosen to do the top 10 most influential female authors of the 20th century simply because I could put Sylvia Plath in it. I was banned and I was mad. It was around this time that I had expanded my Sylvia Plath library to Collected Poems, Unabridge Journals of Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar and Birthday Letters and I carried them with me... EVERYWHERE. I was like a little girl with her favorite doll except my doll was trapped inside the pages of those books and the only way to understand her was to make them a part of my everyday person. I've always had a vengeful side of me and when I was told I couldn't do my poetry project on Sylvia Plath because I wouldn't learn anything (the point!) I chose Anne Sexton. For those of you who don't know who Anne Sexton is she was a very dear friend of Syliva Plath.

Now, I learned at this time that I am not an Anne Sexton fan. The mouse in my project brough up Anne's friend Sylvia very often and I think in the end when Anne gasses herself to death in the garage the mouse is with her and it is implied he dies too and they are off to see friend Sylvia again. Very mobid now that I look back on it but then again I was obsessed with a poet who killed herself at the age of 30 and wrote poems about being a Nazi lampshade. Another friend of mine who had the exact same class the hour after I did chose Sylvia Plath for me and I helped her create a video about Sylvia Plath in which we threw our clothes out of the top window of her house.

My junior year of high school was at the very height of my obsession but thats not saying it went away. I just stopped making her the focal point of all of my studies in theatre, history and literature and I left my Sylvia library at home. Through my dedication I have converted 2 more Plathites who have gone on to emulate my work on her in later classess then later donated their research to me.

One friend joked I had a Ph.D. in Sylvia Plath, I have dubbed February 11th Sylvia Plath Martyrdom Day and created a T-shirt with her face on the front that reads "Dying is an art like everything else, I do it especially well..." whith a picture of her grave on the back with "Hughes" blacked out of her tombstone. I went back to the library and stole that biography I read on her because it is out of print and I had to have it. I own every edition of the Bell Jar I can get my hands on and currently am haunted because HarperCollins just came out with a new cover last month and I don't have it yet... I plan to name my first daughter Sylvia. I have a hard time liking Daniel Craig because he plays Ted Hughes in the movie Sylvia. On my bookcase I have a shelf deidcated to displaying my Sylvia Plath Library which has also grown to include a book of poetry by her daughter, Freida and a fanficiton novel called Wintering by Kate Moses. I like to fancy she and I have some sort of connection because her mother died the same year I was born. Aside from all that my future plans are to visit where she grew up as well as where she is burried so that I, along with many others, may vandilize her tombstone to remove "Hughes" from it.

Welcome to Plathology... I hope you enjoy.


  1. I do love it! What a brilliant idea, perhaps you can compile your entries and have it published, I think it is very interesting and something a lot of other people would like! So, these entry reminds me of loads, do you remember when we use to run around everywhere saying Ich bin Forest Gump? Making our video was so much fun, not a singly person in my class had read The Bell Jar, so they did not truly appreciate our movie. I also think the teacher was slightly annoyed that you had found a tiny way to still do Sylvia. I too thought I adore Sylvie Plath why not,Anne Sexton? Only to find I did not care for her either. Anyway, this is going to be amazing!

  2. .........You have to send me a photo of your shirt, it sounds incredible, I want one