i have been reading sylvia plath’s journals in little bits and pieces for about three years and they have had quite an effect on me. it’s taken me so long because i tend to only pick it up when i’m feeling uncreative or lost. then i read 20 pages or so and feel better. i feel connected to her approach to and struggles with the creative process and wanted to note a few quotes that have resonated with me.
"Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action - stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way - and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity!" (p. 47)
on Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves”:
"…but then the hair-raising fineness of the last 50 pages: Bernard’s summary, an essay on life, on the problem: the deadness of a being to whom nothing can happen, who no longer creates, creates, against the casting down. That moment of illumination, fusion, creation: We made this: against the whole falling apart, away, and the coming again to make and make in the face of the flux: making of the moment something of permanence. That is the life work. I underlined & underlined: reread that."
"Writing breaks open the vaults of the dead and the skies behind which the prophesying angels hide. The mind makes and makes, spinning its web."
"Every day, writing. No matter how bad. Something will come. the steady, quiet determined center I have even now at the end of one of my greatest droughts: It Will Come. If I Work." (p. 286)
Rules: 10 books in no particular order that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t try to list the “right” or “great” works.
1. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 2. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 5. Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger 6. The Giver by Lois Lowry 7. Matilda by Roald Dahl 8. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling 9. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke 10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“If I’d had children and had a girl, the first words I would have taught her would have been “fuck off” because we weren’t brought up ever to say that to anyone, were we? And it’s quite valuable to have the courage and the confidence to say, “No, fuck off, leave me alone, thank you very much.”—Dame Helen Mirren
“Heaven be praised for solitude! I am alone now. Let me cast and throw away this veil of being, this cloud that changes with the last breath, night and day, and all night and day. Let me be alone.”—Virginia Woolf, from The Waves
“The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again”—Homer
Literature can train, and exercise, our ability to weep for those who are not us or ours.
Who would we be if we could not sympathize with those who are not us or ours? Who would we be if we could not forget ourselves, at least some of the time? Who would we be if we could not learn? Forgive? Become something other than we are?
“As a woman you’re still expected to constantly prove yourself, whereas men are allowed to have flops without people blaming it on their gender. If a man has a flop, people will blame it on a variety of factors. But if a woman directs a movie and it doesn’t do well, suddenly it’s because she’s a woman. That’s aggravating to me.”—Diablo Cody on directing in Hollywood
“We tend to think animals are lower than us, but all the scientists in the world couldn’t design and operate a bumblebee’s wing. We can’t jump or run very fast, and we can’t carry vast weights like an ant can. We can’t see in the dark and we can’t fly except crammed in a noisy tube like sardines, which doesn’t count. Humans compared to animals are almost totally deaf, and we can’t smell a fart in an elevator by their standards. We are finite and separate, and neurotic, while the consciousness of an animal is at peace and eternal. We strive and go crazy to become more important. Animals rest and sleep and enjoy the company of each other. We think we have evolved upwards from animals but we have lost almost all of their qualities and abilities. The idea that animals don’t have consciousness or that they don’t have a soul is rather crass. It shows a lack of consciousness. They talk, they have families, they feel things, they act individually or together to solve problems, they often care of their young as a tribal unit. They play, they travel, and medicate themselves when they get sick. They cry when others in the herd die, they know about us humans. Of course they have a soul, a very pristine one. We humans are only now attempting with the recent rise in consciousness to achieve the soul that animals have naturally.”—Stuart Wilde