sylvia plath

Lack of Boundaries in regard to Sylvia Plath

Two new Sylvia Plath poems were announced to have been deciphered recently, and I don’t know how I feel about it. I love Sylvia Plath, I’ve read halves of her unabridged journal and have half memorized “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus” and “Mad Girl’s Love Song” and “Three Women”. She is the leading lady of my heart, the one who got me into pain and poetry and their beautiful amalgamations, and “The Bell Jar” has never felt as sweet as when it was hovering over my head, as Esther’s depicted suicide attempt is one I felt in my bones, her discontent in New York City a balm to my wounds, and when she threw all of her clothes off of the roof of her hotel my heart leapt out with them.

However, after excitedly clicking on the The Guardian article describing this new development, I felt a bit of discomfort. The article reported that scholars had uncovered these poems from a piece of carbon paper Plath had typed over, in the midst of “a convoluted strangle of typewritten words”. This should make you uncomfortable as well, because this is work Plath explicitly did not publish, or want published. Furthermore, unlike “Ariel”, this was not published by a loved one of Plath’s. Scholars intruded, took, and shared, Plath’s lack of agency blatant.

The thing is, what right do we have to her words, full of personal emotions and stories? Why is this considered art, a discovery? Sylvia Plath is not a vehicle for our public consumption, and she had a right to her privacy, even posthumously.

I believe intent, in all things, is important, and Plath’s conspicuous lack of intent to publish these two poem says something about them, or her. In fact, it states nothing about her, or it should, because the world was never supposed to see it.

The fact is, while Plath’s suicide seems to make boundaries blurry, in this instance it makes things startlingly clear. Regardless of her mental state at the time, Plath died with no intention to publish these poems, or she would’ve stuck a note on it or went and published them. Just because a poem is ‘complete’ doesn’t mean it desires to be published, and I think most people would benefit from knowing this.

Some poetry is written for the self, some is written and is false, some is choked and angsty and vulnerable, and some are all of the above, and no poetry should be shared without the consent of the author.

This funny, blurry boundary line is one that I find is common in people who work in the arts, and while I want to expound more upon people’s alarming feelings of entitlement in regards to the lives of celebrities (mainly actors and musicians), I will simply state one more fact: Despite their apparent (real or feigned) vulnerability, artists do and should only share what they choose to, and in that regard, shape their audience’s perceptions of them as they choose, and this is their right. Do not try to deprive them of that.

[Image credit to https://litreactor.com/columns/culling-the-poetry-classics-sylvia-plath]

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Sing and the unreality of reality tv

I have never been emotionally hardy enough to embrace competition reality television shows as easily as the rest of America has. Watching more than 10 minutes of American Idol always had me clenching my jaw to the point of pain, as the show evoked exactly the reaction it strove for: sympathy and investment. I detested Simon Cowell ragging on the desperate and the hopeful, as my (overextended) empathy and projection (onto the victimized contestants) made each rejection hit me harder than who it was aimed towards.

On paper, Sing was perfect: a faux reality show, built on carefully constructed backstories and, of course, ending triumphantly, with all, or almost all parties satisfied, because, unlike reality, this movie was allowed to provide a plethora of happy endings.

However, while I did enjoy this movie, this ability stunted the movie because it allowed its unreality to become unbelievable rather than simply alternative, and therefore its message came off a bit too easy, too simple, too expected.

I can sum Sing up in four words: Everyone achieved their dreams.

And it’s a nice sentiment, and there are moments when everything feels all too real, largely relating to Buster Moon’s storyline, but ultimately ends up falling flat with a larger than life ending.

Buster Moon, simultaneously the protagonist and antagonist, is the driving force of the movie. He, like all of the other main characters, start the movie in a rut, and his action of starting a music competition gives rise to mass reaction, as the prospective competitors form a line around the block for a chance to win $100,000. Ash, Johnny, Rosita, and Mike, and Meena are such competitors, as they audition their way out of their respective dissatisfaction with their lives and begin a new stage, whether it be an upgrade from backup singer to soloist or gang member to entertainer. And while Buster does not actually have the promised $100,000, he is certainly determined, as the Moon Theatre is not only his life but also the product of his father’s efforts, as it is his unceasing efforts to save it which drives the plot. These efforts, this unrelenting pursuit of his passion is reflected in the competitors’ efforts to redefine their status quo and pursue their own ideal realities.

However, as inspiring as this appears, it falls flat in that there is no lasting repercussions of this drive, no true sacrifice made for any of the characters, which takes away from the meaning. After all, if nothing is lost how can something be gained? While I’m not saying morals of stories must purport to be realistic, it is their truth which is supposed to resonate, and there is a tangible lack of truth in relation to our current reality present in Sing. Father and son and husband and wife are on better terms than ever, girl is better off without guy, girl can sing in public. This artificiality is reflected in that there is no true victory in terms of Buster Moon. He does not raise his money through all of the people paying to watch his show, his theater isn’t successful, he is given the money because he proved to one person he had potential.

Therefore, while the movie was enjoyable, it proved why faux reality tv shows are an oxymoron. The base of all reality tv shows, reality, however fake they may be in the context of real life, was unavoidably removed in Sing. And don’t even get me started on its lack of real and sustained storylines for the female characters.