guilt and forgiveness: “i” for you “thou” for me…

…and a bell jar in between.Innocence. Does it really exist? Or is it just a virtual good to be bartered with Faustus as another bad deal. Contextually, it is more about the ways individuals manufacture or construct a world of innocence.For innocence appears actually as something we make; better yet its like a Marcel Duchamp ready made, assembled from a smattering of shards we pick up on a midnight walk among the ruins. Its not not something we are born to. its a story, a fable, and a folk-legend we religiously recite to ourselves in four part harmony; not something we are.

Plath can appear as someone in the grip of forces she unaware of or comprehend, and sometimes she seems a savvy, perceptive and brilliant analyst of those same forces. Plath’s pessimism was multi-faceted maybe somehow connected to a messianic dimension of redemption:a yearning  for the eternal, for the entirely other; a suppression of the temporal, the political, the ever-transient within reality. A nihilism in which death was a necessity;  Plath’s proper self-alienation attaining such a pitched fever that she could experience her own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure justified on the idea, the conception, of the world as an essentially evil drama.

John Donne:There in the womb we are fitted for works of darkness, all the while deprived of light; and there in the womb we are taught cruelty, by being fed with blood, and may be damned, though we be never born. Of our very making in the womb, David says, I am wonderfully and fearfully made, and such knowledge is too excellent for me...Read More:

Emotionally repressed and haunted by a father influence, a ghost of male patriarchy that continued to permeate the soul even after dying; overwhelmingly present and completely absent as a virtual demon. It was an emotional battering by the passive aggressive polarities. That was Sylvia Plath.While the repression divided her being into essentially non-communicating zones of light and dark,mirroring the father, her proper disavowal occupied a foggy, misty gray realm that was neither fully repressed nor fully acknowledged,a frustrating bubble; her bell jar.Her disavowal is largely an ethical issue, a dilemma but controllable to the extent Plath fostered it as an artistic muse, her own scapegoat to take responsibility for what she already knew or desired, or acted upon resulting in some nagging adolescent types of denial.What was conceived by outsiders as neuroticism was in fact a clever substitution of a false conviction of personal purity, unquestionable ethics under the guise of suffering- that simply inverted the relationship with the father- for a complex engagement with the self and the world at large as it really is and not fairly-tale construction from a distortion of memory.

Erica Jong:Star-crossed lovers always fascinate, and Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were surely star-crossed. Their attraction was fierce and they both chronicled it with brilliance. Sylvia Plath wrote powerfully of her attraction to suicide, then killed herself. Ted Hughes was also no slouch when it came to the pull of mortality (witness his book, “Crow”). We are often drawn to characters who seem to be exemplars of the inexorability of fate, of destiny. And they were such. In their lives, in their work, they seemed to express the darkest workings of the unconscious. Read More: image:

You have to wonder if in part, Plath’s deep pessimism did not partly propagate from an unconscious decision to idealize the world.Its a paradox, an oxy-moron  since  decisions are generally taken at face value as conscious acts.If a decision cannot be unconscious it implies responsibility; a decision not to know is, at some level,  partly volitional. Innocence is a choice not to know something,a pleading of ignorance, and objectively a falsehood, since the decision must be based on some presentiment, some inkling, some  shred of knowledge   we already possessed. Innocence is a pretense of ignorance,one theatricalized not so much for others as for ourselves. They cannot choose to lie because they lie repeatedly and chronically to themselves.

…Is there a shame for being ashamed; of being naked in front of the gaze of the seer? As Jacques Derrida stated, “A reflected shame, the mirror of a shame ashamed of itself, a shame that is at the same time specular, unjustifiable and unavowable. At the optical centre of this reflection would appear this thing – nudity”. If art, and the “truth” of art, exists at the seam between “the nude” and “being naked,” ….( Reinke)…”god is not in heaven nor on earth. god is not above nor below. not within nor without. not in the soul or in the flesh. god is in the between of an i and a thou”…”there is just one single question in life and no other. everything depends on it and the response we intuit for it alone will determine our mental health and every one of our longings for peace: is there a god? and the ancillary question: does he/she care?” ( Hune Margulies) Read More:

"all that she absorbed subliminally as a young child. Perhaps she, like me, would have found ways to move past the guilt she must have felt at hating her father. Perhaps she too would have found understanding, if not forgiveness. Instead, she was left with this unassailable, iconic image of him. As she grew older and understood the effect he had on her, the frustration she felt at not being able to communicate her pain, love and anguish to him must have been immense." Read More: image:

From the poem Daddy: She refers to herself as a Jew because it is the most vivid representation of hatred imagineable-the hatred a Jew would feel towards a Nazi. Plath killed herself shortly after she wrote this poem. In fact, she unsuccessfully tried to kill herself before she wrote it, and resented the fact that she did not succeed. She blamed her depression on her father for so long that she even blamed her father for the fact that she was saved from death-”And they stuck me together with glue” After her attempt failed, she decided she was going to do it again, but this time succeed in dying. She was not only going to kill herself because she hated her father for dying, but also because she hated him for forcing her to marry a man like him in order to feel a connection to her dead father. Her husband hurt her just as her father did-”ripped her pretty red heart in two.” She refers to her husband, Ted Hughes, as a vampire who sucked her blood for seven years. Now she decides that she’s done with life and she is going to die. She is telling her dead father about her plan-”Daddy, Daddy, you bastard, I’m through” Read More:

Felix Nussbaum. "All she can recall of him is her terror of him as a l

ng, monolithic creature. Maybe he was so cold and withholding because she was really a Jew and he a Nazi? It felt that way to her. How could Daddy not love me, set me on his lap, make much of me? Something must have been as wrong with me, in his eyes, as was wrong about the Jews in the Nazis' eyes." Read More: image:


Showalter:Plath’s ambition to become what she called “the Poetess of America” and her fierce preparation to fulfill that ambition added to the unique intensity of her life and legend. Plath’s poetry and fiction, appearing during the decades when women were demanding liberation from secondary lives, spoke to its readers with searing immediacy. Our sorrow at the waste and loss of a brilliant writer, and our anger at the restrictions and prohibitions Plath faced as a woman artist, fueled her legend. Read More:

Andrew Solomon:Suicide is the end point of many depressions, but there are plenty of people who, though acutely depressed, do not become suicidal. Committing suicide requires a mix of depression and impulsivity; so much of depression is passive and meek and deactivating. The pain may be intolerable, but the prospect of doing anything as deliberate as suicide is overwhelming.

The model of the literary suicide, of the writer whose thrall to craft is either the consequence or the cause of most dire depression, is a frequent one; David Foster Wallace is the latest link in this sorry chain. Sylvia Plath wrote about depression so explicitly and so beautifully in “The Bell Jar,” where she described how:

I couldn’t get myself to react. I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo. Read More:

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Marianne Faithfull, “Guilt”:

I feel guilt, I feel guilt,
Though I know I’ve done no wrong I feel guilt.
I feel guilt, I feel guilt,
Though I know I’ve done no wrong I feel guilt.

I feel bad, so bad,
Though I ain’t done nothing wrong I feel bad.
I feel bad, so bad,
Though I ain’t done nothing wrong I feel bad.

I never lied to my lover,
But if I did I would admit it.
If I could get away with murder
I’d take my gun and I’d commit it.
I never gave to the rich, I never stole from the poor,
I’m like a curious child, give me more,
More, more, more, more, more, more.

I feel blood, I feel blood,
Though I feel it in my veins, it’s not enough.
I feel blood, I feel blood,
Though it’s streaming through my veins it’s not enough.

I never stole a scarf from Harrods,
But if I did you wouldn’t miss it.
I never stole a doll from Lovecraft,
But if I did you know I’d kiss it.
I never stole from the rich, I never gave to the poor,
I’m like a curious child, just give me more,
More, more, more, more, more, more, more, more.

I feel guilt, I feel guilt,
Though I know I’ve done no wrong I feel guilt.
I feel guilt, I feel guilt,
Though I ain’t done nothing wrong I feel guilt.

Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt
Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt …

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