This is Important
Anne Stevenson, a somewhat unknown writer who wrote a biography of Sylvia Plath, wrote a letter to Janet Malcolm regarding her criticisms of the romanticizing of “suffering for art.” This is a stick in the mud attitude but it’s wiser than most things I’ve read about the artist persona. After long experience, I have to admit that I’m also a critic of the self-indulgence and narcissism and extremism:
"We never touched on the subject of victims. I do believe Sylvia’s suicide has had a devastating effect on all associated with her-including her biographers…. all of us suffered a trauma of associated guilt. My argument with Sylvia is essentially a moral, philosophical one: to me, no art, no ‘great poem’ is worth that much human suffering. After all, there is suffering enough in the world without creating it for the purpose of an interior psychodrama. I believe Sylvia, encouraged perhaps by her Freudian and well-meaning therapist, Ruth Beutscher, found her own psychodrama (a word I prefer to “mythology”) so intoxicating and such an inspiring source of poetry, that she lost all perspective.
The notion that “perspective” has any place in Great Art is anathema, of course, to latter-day Romantics. But belief in “Art” of this kind, in the so-called “risk” of Art and the existential dilemma of the artist (give me genius or give me death) is, for me, akin to the beliefs of fundamental religious fanatics. In the end it leads (via Nietzsche, Weininger, and other German-Austrians of the decaying Hapsburg Empire) to the rise of Hitler; or the Ba’athist dictators (Saddam is only one), who threaten the whole fabric of society with intolerable absolutes. I disagree with Alvarez, with Plath, with Ted Hughes (perhaps) when they contend that the pursuit of the absolute has anything to do with the pursuit of truth. Truth is, in its nature, multiple and contradictory, part of the flux of history, untrappable in language. The only real road to truth is through doubt and tolerance. Unfortunately, philosophical skepticism can also become a mannerism; and the doubting leader is usually a bad one.
One more thing. Although I never contemplated suicide, for a long time in the 1970s I was, through my weakness and misery, to all intents and purposes an alcoholic. I have never confessed this to anyone outside the family; but I think you ought to know that my life has not been that of a nice bourgeois wife and mother. I left my children in Oxford (no, in Glasgow) in 1971, to the care of their father and grandparents, and went to live with a poet in a sort of desperate bid for my ‘real’ self. I don’t know if it was the time that was responsible (the infectious counterculture) or my own New England puritan upbringing. In any case, I spent ten or so years “in the wilderness” – writing ‘Correspondences’ of course. But – and this is the point – divided. I now try to forget, as far as possible, those nightmare years. But I do know firsthand something of what Sylvia suffered, and Ted also…. I cannot believe that a biographer who does not understand the pervading madness of S.’s time can possibly understand her despair. Alvarez, of course, does; but he admires extremism, self indulgence, narcissism that I, after long experience, deplore.”
Running into Sarah Lawrence kids on tumblr makin me miss college so much
YOUNG READERS OF MY BLOG, DON’T FRITTER THESE YEARS AWAY THEY ARE SOME OF THE BEST YEARS
photo cred carly m
am I the only millennial not offended and defensive about people calling us a piece of shit generation? because we kind of ARE a piece of shit generation…
(Source: grandelodge)(206,191 plays)
"If you’re reading along and you come to something that’s really beautiful, that really stops you in the eye with its prose, you see it’s true, then I’ll stop or make a note to stop later and open the notebook and copy it out, in quotation marks, of course, and write down – copy that out word for word, with full punctuation, in handwriting.
And the reason that’s useful is it slows you down and helps you understand the rhythm of the prose and how a person constructed something that opened up in your mind in just that way. So copying out in a commonplace book interesting bits of writing that you find inspiring or interesting is the only piece of advice I have. It’s the only secret that I have to pass on. I’m not a poet, but copy it out and you will be amazed at how much it helps you almost instantly. Instantly, it makes you a more thoughtful reader and possibly a better writer.”
-Nicholson Baker, to Salon
Anonymous asked: Your blog used to be good.
yeah i know it sucks now
Anonymous asked: It was amazing. I think I shall see it again.
I want it
Hilton Als “The Women” > Elizabeth Hardwick “Sleepless Nights”
come the fuck back from your thanksgiving voyages and shower me with tenderness NOW, I have done homework all week with study breaks that entailed youtube videos of pythons regurgitating antelopes