Dearest Sylvia Plath,
Can we hide in a cabin for a bit and just talk? I would like to know you better just to either confirm or dispel my thoughts about the two of us, or mostly you.
You see, I feel a connection to some things that you have written (many poems in Ariel), but frankly it is hard to determine the line where my constructed idea of you and your writing meets others’ constructed ideas of you and your writing. I am not only talking critics, English teachers, fellow poets, or desperate women everywhere. I would like to get more specific. All of the things that Ted had said or done after your chosen fate are obviously only one-sided, and it makes me curious what will happen to me when I am gone. How will the idea of me–the memory of me–surpass what I have constructed or intended and instead turn into its own breathing creature, like it certainly will and like yours did. Oh, not necessarily for me as a famous person in history, of course not: a person, no matter the level of notability, leaves a mark on the lives of others–even family or friends–for if they don’t then they weren’t alive at all.
I just keep thinking about life and death. Considering that a book I just completed, Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, had the idea that suicide was a form of taking control of one’s life, not running away. Two quotes from pages 52 – 54 said:
In the letter he left for the coroner [regarding his suicide] he had explained his reasoning: that life is a gift bestowed without anyone asking for it; that the thinking person has a philosophical duty to examine both the nature of life and the conditions it comes with; and that if this person decides to renounce the gift no one asks for, it is a moral and human duty to act on the consequences of that decision.”
“The law, and society, and religion all said it was impossible to be sane, healthy, and kill yourself. […] So I doubt anyone paid much attention to Adrian’s argument, with its references to philosophers ancient and modern, about the superiority of the intervening act over the unworthy passivity of merely letting life happen to you.”
I think of this and wonder if you had such a purpose in your actions or if it was just distress. But you certainly didn’t just let life happen to you. But then: your son, Nicholas, also took his own life a few years ago, and Ted’s mistress years after your own (in the same manner, only she included her child in the gas.) There must be something besides disease and depression and abuse causing people to choose to go. Or at least, that’s what I’d like to believe. The common argument is “but that’s selfish to those who remain behind who cared about you.” That is not an argument if you are choosing to return a gift, the gift of life, you didn’t ask for in the first place, and it is a bit insulting considering those thinking and saying this are probably going to mess up those constructed memories and identities of you after you’re gone. For this, Barnes writes, “…as the witnesses to your life diminish, there is less corroboration, and therefore less certainty, as to what you are or have been”(64).
I just would like to know what you actually can vouch for and help me to know your own subjective history. So let’s talk after you’ve spent time on the internet googling yourself and your family and your critics and your… own life. Yet in the constructed version I hold of you, you’ll probably wave me off after a light, yet bitter chuckle regarding all this modern information and say “Ach, du.” And I can leave it at that–if you can.