The Bell Jar


“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenburgs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions.” 


Let it be know that any novel that began with an electrocution is not good news for your psyche! What do you know, Sylvia, turns out, I’m stupid about executions too. The Bell Jar has a very refreshing ring to it and I understand what would have prompted Sylvia Plath to write it in 1963. The world was changing then, women were finding their place in the society in a brand new America. Little has changed since then, now women are finding a new place in a brand new India. So the society that never took the aspirations of a female poet seriously still exists, only the continents are different. I viewed Sylvia’s book in a very condescending light. Because I didn’t want to involve myself with Esther too much, no one wants to compare oneself with the depressed young lady who tries to cut herself. 

Many say The Bell Jar was autobiographical, I wouldn’t disagree entirely, Sylvia always found a bit of herself in her books. Esther Greenwood, much like Sylvia, was at the threshold of success and she suffered from what I now famously call the “Emptiness Syndrome” so I have scaled the mount Everest. Now What? The emptiness eventually catches hold of her and she spirals into an unending abyss of the darkness that is life. From the joyous streets of New York to the whiteness (if there is such a word) of an asylum. Sylvia takes on a journey of self reflection. At the end of which, even I began to wonder what if I were to jab that razor into me. Some parts of the novel are blatantly cruel to the human body.

“I feigned sleep…, but my even my eyelids didn’t shut out the light. They hung the raw, red screen of their tiny vessels in front of me like a wound.” 

while others are courageous to say the least:
“they would look out at me with the same dead, black, vacant expression”

It’s a first hand account of depression by the depressed. My suggestion would be to let this one pass if you’ve a narrow faint heart! And eve if you do read it, kindly keep all the knives and razors far far away from you for there is an Esther in all of us.

Sylvia Plath: My anti-hero

On cold winter morning of February 11, Sylvia Plath was found dead in her London apartment, her children sleeping in the next room. The psychologists, promptly called it the “Sylvia Plath” effect and said all Female writers are more prone to suicide. Surprisingly, the examples they gave to prove this theory were of Virginia Woolf and Emily Dickinson, both novelist and poetess of a different era altogether.


My relationship with Sylvia Plath started when I heard a Ryan Adams song of the same name, of course that was just a song of love long lost and had nothing to do with her. But I had started on a quest. I asked around the Indian Literary Circles about Sylvia Plath. Shockingly, the author that had rocked America with her controversial  confessional poetry was lost in translation in these parts of the world. I found her finally, in an ultra modern book establishment lost in the section of Poetry, where no one goes!. And then I read “Daddy”.


You do not do, you do not do 
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot


Sylvia Plath is a terrifying morality, she starts off this poem with the loss, that of her father, but, for me the irony lies in the question  : What do you do when you find that the one man you loved since you were born turns out to be a narcissistic murderer? 

“Daddy” is a very blatant poem, intense in its purpose, shocking in meaning. Plath was always a gutsy writer, for her “Daddy” was about the chaos that every mind was in. Each word screaming, yelling out, almost begging her to stop writing this emotion down! 
It moved me, “Daddy”,the way no Shakespeare or Wordsworth ever did. and when she says,

But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.


I won’t explain the meaning of this poem. Hell I won’t even review it. She was the undead in those words, my anti-hero, my perception of hatred and love at the same time. Sylvia Plath changed the way I look at poetry. It was now, finally what I knew poetry to be. The truth, blatant and naked, staring right at us like a mirror, mocking us at times, but mostly, loving us like a mother so pure like a virgin. And the suicide was not a part of the act, it was a way to free herself from the chaos. 

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two—
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.


P.S: Sylvia Plath is my new favorite. I am currently reading the Bell Jar, will post it’s review ASAP.

Micheal Crichton’s Last GoodBye : Pirate Latitudes

On November 5, 2008, while I was sipping my morning cup of coffee, my friend dutifully sent me a message that Micheal Crichton, the man who was the one of the reasons I loved Science had passed away, I stopped my life for a moment and thought of a world without Crichton.


When Pirate Latitudes hit the stands, I decided not to go to the second hand Moor Market, because I wanted to pay my final respects to the man. But I had read the reviews, New York Times had said :”The Crichton reputation and legacy are based on works far heartier than this.”  True Enough. But they don’t get it, I would just read it because it didn’t matter, for it was Crichton once again and that was enough for me!


Pirate Latitudes starts in a typical period novel fashion describing the morning abulations of a certain Jamaican governor Sir James Almont.  The book gives an interesting insight on what Piracy and Privateering meant in 1665 Jamaica when the Governor hangs a pirate and offers a deal to a privateer in the same morning. This particular Privateer is the famous Captain Charles Hunter, our quintessential protagonist, he’s hot, adventurous, brave and is (as is the case with all heroes) a Ladies’ Man. He’s introduced in the book in a truly Jack Sparrow moment when he is peeing out into the streets. 


The Story is simple, England is surrounded by Spain in the Carribean and the only island colony left to them is the tiny Jamaica, to save some grace and make some money for themselves, the crown cuts deals with “Privateers”. So when a Spanish ship loaded with cash is stuck deserted on a fortified island it’s upto Captain Charles Hunter and his crew to get the gold, kill the wicked Spanish General, save a certain damsel in distress. It has everything that we saw in Pirates of the Carribean. Even words like, “And my mistress shall dine on your testicles,”  (I mean come on!)  Crichton even went on to incorporate Sea Monsters!(Did he by any chance give ideas to the Pirates of the Carribean Team?) 


But there is one thing that has always set Crichton apart, the attention he pays to the crew, Charles Hunter is just a part of the story, the description of each member of Hunter’s crew is rather interesting(the Jew and Lazue take the awards for the weirdest pirates ever!) and so is the character of the damsel in distress Lady Sarah Almont and the Mrs-Robinson like character of Mrs. Robert Hacklett. Crichton did loose his touch with the precious slave girl Anne Sharp could’ve been better there. 
But who cares! It’s Crichton! come on! I lived through the pages of sea storms and gun battles and ultra cool navigational manoeuvres. I even believed him when he talked about Sea Monsters. But essentially, I sailed the Spanish Main and back with Micheal Crichton and well…the journey was worth it!

Sanity

Do I call

a spade a spade

or knaw fruitlessly

at eternity’s gate?

Joy is fleeting

Sorrow stands still

The mind mocks the mind

as I look out the window sill

Want an irony?

Then wonder what

these walls are for

to keep the inside in or the outside out

the barbed wired fences

my prickled tenses

are all but a fantasy

for I’m locked in, the world locked out

in a mirage of empty seas

At length, they want to fly away

my birds of sanity

but when they re free my mind begins to see

how the cage was a godsend!