Full Moon Voices
This god-damn Liz Hardwick has first pushed my ass in among the weird love-starved Bronte Sisters; so OK, I fell for Charlotte, though I had a mad urge to go for Emily--but I had no problem literarily writing my way out of the Bronte-sisters mad-for-men circle to hide for a while in the insane too-sane world of Paul Bowles, another crossdressing-type of writer who seems to just automatically accept two ways of doing anything, including making love--just like I've gotten myself literarily stuck in my being philosophically intrigued by Debbie Harry's "Parallel Lines" poem and her concluding that her relations with men, women, whatever were like parallel lines and Newton saying these parallel lines could NEVER meet only virtually meet--get close enough to kiss and fuck--has thrown me into a tizzy.
Then I dared to venture back into Liz's fine little book, Seduction & Betrayal, so "woman" a title, too, isn't it? I'll tell you'se guys one thing, Liz has awakened me to the parallel universes of men and women--dig? Like how on a different line women are compared to historically dominant-thinking men--men the powerful; men the machos; men the royal bones--the stronger the bone the more mad-swimming semen it produces, the longer the divine line--men the possessors of women--and this male ownership of women is still the accepted law in most cultures, including the culture of the US of A--males are still the possessors of women. And with this crazy unreal real subject matter being mixmastered into my brain's sauces, I tackled Liz Hardwick again--I decided since I couldn't seduce the Bronte gals--and I really almost got Charlotte, I tell you all, I'd use my powerful Gary-Cooper (I know, 'Who?')-Sweet-Talkin'-Texas-Macho-Maverick-Unbranded-"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"-best on her, but, hell, her womanly cry for wanting to be impregnated--to eventually see her own male side in a son or her own female demise in a daughter left me spinning then getting up and running like mad down the middle of a going-nowhere road (the only way for a man to treat a Bronte gal)--and then comes the daughter, and I turned to the next essay in Liz's little book and son of a bitch, NO NOT THIS, Liz, dammit, there she was, the bitch-woman I was gonna have to deal with, holy shit, Sylvia Plath--grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr--all I suddenly was growling was, "OH SHIT, another 'Love Me, Daddy' daughter, forsaken by her daddy, her sweet original and sugar daddy, Her Real MAN"--oh no, I wimped, and limped, and floated like a bad-poem's blimp trying to avoid another bout with trying to fuck Sylvia Plath--even, like Liz later said, knowing that intellectual women are bad in bed--I mean, shit, like all of the Olympian gods had to do to get a piece of ass--same with intellectual women as with mythological goddesses--I mean isn't it all about men and women getting together, coming together, mixing, blending, compromising?---WHOA! That last one, compromising, got my head slammed into the oven by mad Sylvia and her strict demand for males to be refocused from their desires to fuck her to a desire to really get to know her and respect her and end up fucking worshipping her and listening to her needs and there you are "safe" in Sylvia's slender arms--is Sylvia Plath a damn Jewish princess or what? Liz said due to Sylvia's daddy being a German born in Poland and her mother being Austrian left her stranded in the air between Europe, the Old World, and Winthrop, Massachusetts. Holy moly--
And speaking of the Holy Modal Rounders--and I'm taking an aside as a breather here--I mean, I'm so full of thoughts my brain is trying to strangle me--am I sounding Plathian yet?--anyway, a good old musician friend of mine is now working with Peter Stamfil (I could never really remember how to spell his name) and his new band--Jesus, whew, let me do a few jumping jacks here--I wish I were as simple as Jack LaLanne--I used to wish as a kid I wasn't so antsy-pantsy in my curiosities--like I thought it would be nice to get a job say with the highway department, working like a fucking dog all day in the heat or cold, then coming home dog-tired, plopping down in front of the teevee and watching I Love Lucy (in junior high we called it I Love Loosely), and then hollering toward the kitchen, "Honey, I'm home," and then my babe comin' out of the kitchen with a cold can of Bud--"Baby, yore dinnah's gonna be ready 'fore Little Ricky sucks his first titty...." "Baby, you're the greatest." What a life--not a worry in the world--you come home tired as hell, you get that cold beer, you watch a little teevee, then you eat--chicken-fried steaks with white gravy and a pile o'grits, a little tin log cabin of maple syrup, all washed down with three fruitjars of ice tea, then you goes and takes a shower, then you shits, then you shaves, then you changes your underwear, you brush your teeth, then jump into the bedroom, play around with the old lady's tits a while then start snoring away by eleven o'clock, passin' out, leavin' the old lady watchin' David Letterman--a little agitated, she's playing with her own tits now, hoping that her old man will wake up early enough in the morning to bang her 'fore he flies into the kitchen to start makin' his breakfast and she has to get up and get the kids ready.... That's the life without complicated thinking I thought about before I hit life head-on. But I learned quite early that I didn't fit that persona. First of all, I had no interest whatsoever in hard work. When during college I one summer actually did work on a highway construction crew in the flat middle of the West Texas sun's anvil in 100-degree-plus weather and no thank you--fuck that kind of work--and also I couldn't stand I Love Lucy--right-wing bitch--and then I read Plato who said some of us, especially poets and philosophers, shouldn't work at all but rather sit under trees all day and think. I went with Plato. Knowledge comes from trees in all our holy books--ever notice that? Shouldn't that instinctually tell us that trees are somehow important in the "knowledge" we've gained since we've become advanced monkeys--the divinest form of the simian branch of the animal tree and its many many branches and roots--don't forget the ROOTS.
OK, OK, I plunged right into Liz's essay on Sylvia Plath.
First of all, I can see falling for Sylvia's smile when she was at Smith--"I hope you're not a virgin, sweetheart." "Would you strangle me to death if I told you I was a virgin while you were fucking me?" "Wow, are you a poet?" What a deceiving smile. Hell, Sylvia was a cute little minky, and of course she was smart as a whip--never made below an A--I mean, come on, born a perfectionist--champion horseback rider! Of course: "Sylvia, er-ah, can I ask you a question? Are you Jewish?" "Why, if I tell you I'm Jewish are you going to push my fucking head in an oven and then cry 'Die, Jew, Die!' and then like an Aztec priest will you dagger out my still-beating Jew heart and eat it raw before the godly Sun?" "Holy shit, Sylvia, let's fuck."
And right off the bat I see Liz is in love with Sylvia same as I am--I must have this bitch--and Liz says as much as she wants to womanly hate Sylvia she has to say she can't hate her, can only love her through her almost perfect way of expressing herself poetically--Liz says The Bell Jar fails as a novel though it is a good novel.
I mean, it was easy to tear through Liz's evaluation of Zelda Fitzgerald and her battle with Scott Fitzgerald being the better writer yet Zelda may be being the better story maker--I mean, even Scott admitted they wrote things together and he stole many of his novel ideas from reading her diaries and her notes criticizing his writing. That was easy to get through because Scott and Ernie and Ez (check out how closely related Sylvia is to H.D.), Thomas Wolfe (he had a mad Jewish woman madly in love with him) and those dudes had been my nonconforming generation's inspiration, so I sided with Scott in his struggle with Zelda--Scott wrote, "I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda's sanitariums"--and that's how I treated Zelda in my imagination--yes, I found her sexually hot, but also I knew her as one of the girl teaser types who had preyed on me as a young male, teasing me viciously with their girly charms, like lifting their skirts and letting me see their panties--I learned, screw the breasts, go right for the pleasure--so early in life I learned to beware of a woman's initial offerings--her temptations--why, hell, woman is the only parallel line we males can actually come together with--when we insert our penises into the woman's welcoming vagina, though not really one in a growing-together sense, we are at least momentarily docked together, tradin' juices, participating in the creation of life--or even if it's not welcoming in the case of male superiority--though in the animal world, if a male is rejected by a female--this is especially true in the world of wolves--the male doesn't rape her but concedes to her commands and withdraws--I mean even if he gets to the point of rarin' up and mounting her, you know, gettin' the hold and gettin' it ready to strike (his "burning spear")--if she turns around and snarls at his ass, he's outta there. Whether this is true of monkeys or not I'm not Diane-Fossey aware of--no, I think not, since most monkeys are male dominated in terms of kings and divinity and shit--though even in the pre-Man monkey world, the male still seduces the female and begs her to let him have some--that's all life's about--or am I getting Freudian again?--which is why I love Freud, he legendized all these mixed psyches we advanced monkeys have produced--Sir James Fraser mythologized them; Carl Jung put them into human culture as being the legendizing of our instincts, what we numbskull humans call our "consciences."
Oliver the Monkey Man
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So, as I dug into Liz Hardwick's talented autopsy of Sylvia Plath's remains, I was determined Sylvia wasn't going to make a monkey out of this wolf man. I had already been with Sylvia, via A. Alvarez's charming The Savage God but I read that while I was still Sylvia's age, and I was a bright-eyed poet in those days who didn't understand women at all, except to be wary of their promises and taunts and teases and the many "May I kiss yous" and "May I touch your breasts?"
I remember clearly the first time a girl opened her legs to my prowling hand, going up her little girl leg, up under her skirt, up her thigh, scared shitless, nervous, sweating hot, heatin' up more, and boldly then touching her panties--I'm boiling by now! But I remember how totally cool this girl was--she actually urged me to pull the panties back off her prize--wow, and how wonderfully curiously strange that felt the first time I inserted a finger in her preteeny vagina--I was 11 and she was 10.
How childish I feel around women like Sylvia Plath.
Once I worked in a county juvenile home during the early part of my having-to-work state of being. Going through the initiation class, this caseworker who was a karate expert taught us neophytes how to defend ourselves if we were attacked by one of the little juvey criminals we were given as temporary wards. Then our Dr. Phil-type psychologist started jawing with us about suicidal threats--how we'd be facing threats of suicide all the time--mostly from the GIRLS brought in--the girls were always threatening suicide--then our Dr. Phil gave us his solution to this girl-threatening-suicide problem. "These girls aren't serious about killing themselves. Remember that. They're looking for attention, for love actually, why most of them are here anyway--because they are incorrigible or runaways or lost girls--girls without love. I don't recommend it, but we once had a director, a behavioral psychologist, who would go to the girl threatening suicide and take a razor blade with him and then he'd say to the girl, 'OK, you want to commit suicide, I understand, so I thought I'd let you do it--I brought this double-edged razor blade along with me--I'll leave it with you--but first, let me explain the best way to kill yourself with this razor blade--which is, I believe, what you wish. So here, let me show you how to cut the arteries in your wrists so they bleed the most'...." The doc then said, in all the cases handled by this behavioral dude, all the girls broke down and admitted they didn't really want to die as much as they wanted the attention they thought they deserved.
Aha, so suicide-attemptors are really looking for attention. And damn, Liz says definitely that's what Sylvia Plath's suicide attempts were about, attention, even the eventual suicide attempt that would work on sweet Sylvia Liz says was staged (timed out by Sylvia) in order that she'd be saved at the last minute. Alvarez explains this in his book, too. Sylvia didn't want to die, but she wanted to scare the fucking bejesus out of those she demanded love from and never got love only rejection--only her artistic self got acceptance--rejection even from her slimy limy husband, that asshole Ted Hughes, who hell yeah fell for Sylvia's intellectual-sexual seduction--and hell, yes, he banged her enough to give her children, daughter Frieda and son Nicholas--she was a mother--the mother of the desperate--leaving Ted finally--by then he was advertising to her how many times he was fucking around on her--and she and the kids moved to London to live in an unheated flat desperate, looking for work, trying to support herself, boring except for writing and her perfectionist housecleaning and motherly duties, and it was during one of the coldest winters ever in London history--a perfectly lovely Sylvia Plath winter--the winter of her pleadingest discontent--and Sylvia was writing down her pleadings in the form of the poems with Ariel and Winter Trees and what bitchy sweet calls for help those collections are.
But Sylvia was a fakir. Beneath her admitted love of death and the thrill of participating in her own death was a cold bitterness she blamed on her father--he died when she was 9--Liz Hardwick says was due to her 1) being born a woman, 2) being a genius, 3) being madly ambitious, and 4) being of a grave mental instability.
Complications--all planned out in this brilliant young woman's too-easily absorbing mind, absorbing everything it set out to perfectly do--and what a strain such a mind is; I know, I deal with that kind of mind and yes it is hard to keep that kind of mind from wandering off into the shadows (and Sylvia wrote herself into stale, moldy, corners of cellars--shadowy places--once hiding down in a cold, smelly basement, in a deep dark all shadow corner behind a pile of logs--hard to find in this her brutal hide-and-seek game--once in her shadowing evil cell, Sylvia downed a whole bottle of sleeping pills. But tricky mean Sylvia had timed this one out, too, and finally she was found and rushed to the hospital in time to save her life. Great show, Sylvia--what do you want this time? A little daddy love?)--and in the shadows minds like ours start imagining deeply into the many shadowy areas of LIFE--and soon this kind of mind is contemplating the final act we will all have to face--as Philip Wylie said, we gave up eternal life for sexual intercourse--I've tried to relate that to the Christian "Garden of Eden" tale--the Temptation of Eve and the eventual fall of Man after the pristine Eve was seduced and we assumed fucked by the Devil in the disguise of an upright walking snake (when God found out, he punished the stupid snake and not the Devil, Heavens prettiest Angel remember, cut the legs off the snake and made him slither like waxed shit along the ground)--and all this woman/man thing is so parallel and as such is so theoretically complicated--I mean, how does one write their way out of so full and active a mind except by killing oneself? Liz compares Sylvia to Hart Crane, Scott Fitzgerald, and Edgar A. Poe--as Liz states, these poets rather than Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, and Elizabeth Bishop--and Hart Crane committed suicide; and Scott and E.A. committed suicide by drinking themselves into the grave.
So now I've taken on Sylvia Plath--god-damn, I wanna read The Bell Jar again now, and The Colossus and Ariel--poems like:
There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you
They are dancing and stamping on you
They always knew it was you
Daddy, Daddy, you bastard, I'm through
From her poem, "Daddy," a lovely little ditty in honor of her father, a biology teacher whose speciality was beekeeping.
Liz Hardwich, I made it through your thoughts on long-lost Sylvia Plath. So far so good. I'm still fascinated by women like Plath; same as Paul Bowles was fascinated by his self-destructive wife, Jane Bowles--and Jane Bowles is so much like Sylvia Plath--even to the Jewish daughter thing and the hatred of fathers and mothers--Paul Bowles hated both his parents--he grew up in Jamaica, Queens, New York--Jane, too, was from New York City--and Jane lived the same kind of life as Sylvia Plath except Jane did want to live though life for her was so damn black and disappointing in the end--Jane was paralyzed by a stroke and lived on for another dozen years in this state, a sleepless, dark, damp, and shadowy existence in a sanitarium in Spain--not only paralyzed, but blind, too, and unable to speak--though she still wrote--and kept on writing--and these are the kind of writers I associate with--writers who take risks--the same as Sylvia loved taking risks--by constantly committing suicide--though down deep, Sylvia wanted to be rescued--to get accepted--and don't all we who think we're writers--rejection is tough--being critically rejected is tough, too, but in a way, Sylvia's acceptance as a poet was her downfall--instead of taking her poems as pleadings for somebody to save her from her suicidal games the critics praised her poems as dark but beautifully and brilliantly created and produced--so beautifully written perhaps her fans didn't take Sylvia the human being seriously enough--though, Jesus, what a difficult bitch she must have been when she was in one of her playful moods.
Hold on, Liz and I are moving on again. Let me peek at the next essay--Virginia Woolf! Oh boy oh boy oh boy--I know already something about Virginia Woolf--again, like Zelda, Virginia's suicide is not going to bother me--though I once thought Virginia Woolf was my grandmother in a dream I had as a kid--I mean she looked like my grandmother who was a novelist and poet but who would have never ever contemplated suicide--in fact, in one of my grandmother's best poems she tells Death to forget coming for her in the spring, a time of birth and bloom and new life--she'd just refuse to die if Death came then--on the other hand, I can see Sylvia Plath as my grandmother--oh holy cow! I think I would commit suicide. "Oh, daddy, let's do it together!"
I had a good friend back in my younger days who one day with his wife committed suicide like Sylvia--he and his wife bound themselves together with ropes and tape and then they together put their heads in the oven--and my friend was strong, so if she'd wanted to back out at the last minute, she was bound to him, and that way bound to die with him, which she did.
I wrote a poem about my friend and his wife once but after rereading it all night one night I finally set it on fire and watched it disintegrate in an ashtray.
I quickly jot out a quickie poem to Sylvia Plath:
For Miss Plath
I live and
I do live;
I die and
I don't live;
or do I?
The Cinderella Story According to Sylvia Plath
The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels,
Her green eyes slant, hair flaring in a fan
Of silver as the rondo slows; now reels
Begin on tilted violins to span
The whole revolving tall glass palace hall
Where guests slide gliding into light like wine;
Rose candles flicker on the lilac wall
Reflecting in a million flagons' shine,
And glided couples all in whirling trance
Follow holiday revel begun long since,
Until near twelve the strange girl all at once
Guilt-stricken halts, pales, clings to the prince
As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk
She hears the caustic ticking of the clock.
for The Daily Self-Destructive Growler
Elizabeth Hardwick d. 2007
Sylvia's final resting place--though we know she ain't resting--she's busy in hell fucking up the Devil. I like the way the Hughes is added to her name; that must really please her--that bastard got the last word, too, with that epitath--"Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted." "Fuck the golden lotus and that fucking phoenix shit attitude," me impersonating Sylvia.