Connect with us

African Renaissance

The Imagined Journals of Sylvia Plath

Abigail George

Published

on

The page frees me in a sense, in ways I cannot describe. I write and that is my life. I am a mother and a wife, a lover, a poet, and I feel that is also just a part of my life. Sometimes the two meet and sometimes they do not. Sphere upon sphere upon another sphere. If depression happened in nature, what would we call it then?

Poetry is a god to me. When I write I am a woman on her own. Reality is out of the picture and it does not seem to count for anything really. It is never enough for me. I stand and watch the busyness of life, observing nature and most of all human nature and I slowly empty out. It is a useful exercise kind of like transcendental meditation. I know nothing about it. It is just something I read as a girl in a book long ago when I was at college and at the time, it was just too much for me to handle. The thought of going out of myself made me go numb and cold. It gave me the shivers. If I was, alone I would go mad with grief and rage and I would be that girl again.

I think I have been supportive. I have been encouraging. All I see is constellations in words and it is driving me sweetly out of my mind. I am the rabbit in Wonderland and there I go down that hole. There are people out there who have peace around them all the time. Why can’t I be one of those people? Life is a cruel trick. I want to escape from my reality. Women do not set out to alienate men. It is not their lot in life. Men and women are supposed to get along so they can walk down that sunny road, settle down, marry, have those kids, and start the modern family. Sylvia and Ted are just complex, endlessly searching particles bumping into each other for clarity like oil and water, like acid rain. Now we, the both of this ‘us’ that he keeps on talking about have this one thing in common and that is poetry and the goal was for us to work together but now it is working against us. I never dreamed that this would be kismet.

Last night I was electric. I told him where to get off and come hell or high water I am going to stick to it. So sticking to my guns, that is me. I put the universe under observation. To be a wonder, I sometimes long for that. To sparkle, to vibrate, to feel that there is enough in the world, to bask in the revelation that there is an abundance healing the world of all its iniquities through ritual, that there is healing across family bloodlines. I go inside. Inside the deepness, the thoroughfare of the sense, sensibility of female poets and what do I find there wherever I look. Boxes that are locked and keys that need to be found. My children are my everything.

Poetry has become my life work, my death of self, a force to be reckoned with steely-eyed determination, my love, my creative impulse and passion. It is the fruit of my spirit and the way of my soul. I have found the world, worlds really that exist in my consciousness, that state I can only reach when I am very still and quiet. The state I could reach when I was young. You only have that kind of inclination when you are young and you do not live in a constant state of denial of fear and the ego and insecurity. Therefore, I have found consciousness, that clear and fluid stream of thought that tends to linger. The heavenly creation of a dream does not. And when you wake up in the morning there is action and vision and doing your ablutions, brushing the curls out of your hair, there is a sense of orderliness in the routine. There is always something human. I must have courage now. This is not my first hurt.

I see myself as a poet and a female writer second. There is no contest. All of life is feeding ghosts that came before and after, running on your own personal velocity, the flow of poetic motion, a writer saying, ‘I need an ending to this’ blasting through his or her dream. Inside the mind/vision of a poet means going into the black and that there are always two possibilities within reach, life or death, feeding the gods of beasts or feeling ghosts near your fingertips, depression or feeling that you’re more normal, stable than the next person. I think I have found my ending. Once you are there you are running, running with scissors (and did not even know it). For writers all of life is childhood continued. As a writer, now is the time of my life. Sylvia write every day, that is the purest sum of parts of a writer. Do not edit. Do not censor yourself. Before you show ‘the work’ to anyone else, journal with intent.

When I enter the body of poetry a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction washes over me. There are explosions of tiny waves behind my eyes. My soul has made it thus far. I have to end the poverty in my mind but I find a cold comfort in the not knowing of things. If depression happened in nature, what would we call it then? Would it be organic in origin? In a marriage when it ends whom is to blame for its demise. Who is the culprit? On the approaching betrayal in any relationship, I have this to say. Lock down your heart dear and look away. It means that there may be something incomplete in the moving against the current of love. It means to love and die simultaneously. I think there is a theory behind light. When my body feels full of that stuff, the light, and the hidden energies in my aura, I feel as if I have free tickets to the centre of winter.

Loss is a hard fall. You are standing and then the world becomes something of a hallucination. Writing no longer is a task for me. Feeling broken is a splendiferous stain. Held up to the world it is my main inspiration. It packs it in, crosses thresholds, divides, and flaunts, what it is not is anonymous. In my writing, I do not have to don a mask and mask my pain. I do not have to filter my moods and then I turn to my reflection and say, ‘Bravo, Sylvia. You have done the impossible. Bravo.’ Perhaps it is true. I am behaving like a spoilt, coddled child. However, if I take him back what does that say about me, all my principles, the family values I cherish. People talk and what if they do. It is none of my business what they think of me, of us, of this wounded relationship. Poets do not know how to live. We only know how to die.

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

Continue Reading
Comments

African Renaissance

Vincent van Gogh: The Other. Now we will both drown in agony, despair and ecstasy

Abigail George

Published

on

Now he belongs to the elite.

Like a photo workshop, even the trying decline of the citizenship (belonging to the working and lower middle classes) of stigma and the super-rise of discrimination amongst the mentally ill has myths and attitudes. It has become kind of like an occupational hazard that swings black veins here to know and understand this ‘captive-apartheid’ (separate but equal mentality, this psyche) of what it is like to be mentally ill, to be hospitalised, institutionalised on a long-term basis, the conflict in the home that leads to isolation, withdrawal from the community and broader society of the ‘victim’. In the discontent, in anger and agony, there will be violence and assault against the mentally ill that is never spoken about. There will never be an apology. The arrogant and thoughtless perpetrators from all quarters would think that with time memories of the past injustices and brutality will fade like a season. That the mentally ill sufferer would forget the pain of the mental cruelty of the emotional abuser. I think that we are all victims. All artists become victims. The dysfunctional household, the nuclear family hanging on by a thread becomes anti-powerful, antisocial, and rather than address these questionable and brutal actions, this avalanche of sin against the creative-minded and imaginative bipolar sufferer, or, the mentally ill sufferer who has an artistic temperament the result can lead to the dynamic of social alienation from society. The artist may be seen as a deteriorating misfit and living in declining living standards. Having a low sense of self-worth, no identity to speak of, or, frequently in the mode of identity crisis.

Frequenting brothels, becoming hypersexualised, or, befriending people living on the fringes of society. Cast out of society, Vincent called upon interlopers like himself, marginalised, disadvantaged due to poverty, neglect, and abandonment, and the liberties of discrimination. I have spoken about the spoiled identity before. I am more moved now to write about how the socialisation of discrimination against the mentally ill sufferer came about, than press-ganged stigma. There is a different mode of operandi for both. Like the Dutch painter, I tried to outrun the dawn, befriend the working class, those living and working in poverty, those gone in a drink, but the world has become a sticky place. Vincent held up a paintbrush and it became an alpha and omega talisman in his hands. He never sold a painting in his lifetime, had experienced unrequited love in his life, lived in abject poverty, befriended and even painted his circle of confidantes, prostitutes. He painted the wilderness in a chair, he painted the bone-filled face of the moon, he painted portraits in which he portrayed both the androgynous effect of the mind and the male and female landscape there, he painted self-portraits displaying his nature, his a-typical personality for the entire world to see, and he painted sunflowers. He engineered grasses, torment (even in the stars), the genius in the mundane, the banal. Even in the mediocre he found light and improvised comfort for himself in that light as if it belonged to the arena of God. He found the heart and the liver in the shadow of the destitute weeping over the figure of Christ, and for me, there’s a vague anguish attached to the scale of the page.

I think that when Vincent was painting himself, these complex pictures were so layered with subtext, so conceptual, yet, the broken link was there all along. The psychology of it all. And in extremes magical, in bursts of creative thought with an almost unreal substance sticking to it as if mentally he was getting rid of things that had robbed him of life. Marriage, children, ‘the’ career and a loving wife. When I look at the depressed views of himself, the imaginative portraiture, of course, of course I see myself. I see my own writing. I see myself as a poet, second and novelist, first in this phase of my writing career. Not confident in his talent, or, sure, is this a gift. His work was not ‘art’ in a commercial sensibility that would see him gaining financial security from his monumentally gifted work in his lifetime.Vincent’s nightmares like mine must have been intense and terrifying. I journal, Vincent painted. I didn’t handle my nervous breakdown every well, and subsequent nervous breakdowns, and hospitalisations. Stress, burnt out, depression and mania. Both common in the artistic temperament as well as female poets suffering from the Sylvia Plath Effect. He knew the business of internalising emptiness, the nonconcrete, turning it into the uninvolved non-event of the morose state of affairs of both affective pressure and fatalistic depression. I concentrate on the good things.He was a Renaissance-wolf. Hanging on by a phantom thread (as is due to artists who are mentally ill).He knew the voracious destructive pain of being rejected, that matters of the heart have two definitions.To be loved in return, or, to remain single, unloved.

And have many love affairs always trying to make up for the one that you lost to another. He plugged the gaps with the divine, albeit psychological art. In a South African, African context, the artist should be an enfranchised individual. It is important to realise that not just as newspaper gospel, but as a universal challenge, and as truth. The climate of freedom comes to the enfranchised. A kind of innermost peace in the lonely nights. Where did the origins of Vincent’s art, his utter focus, the language of his concentration, the fact that he was so prolific, as hardworking as spit come from, from childhood, or, from a psychiatric disorder? I have struggled with this realisation for most of my adult life. What does every bold incident of trauma inspire in the ‘disaster’ artist? The sunflowers of the creative spark, or, the madness life in the very ill.In the end, ultimately Vincent was the winner. He was the heir to whom the voice of God belonged to in his own time. I see his work speaking to me as diagrammatic. As a photo ark speaking in hundreds of tongues.What is writing, writing for pleasure, what exactly does that mean? What is painting, where is the voice in the painting, to whom does that voice belong? To me, truth resides in the forms of succession (what is the reward for the artist, what is the hereafter and the aftermath). By design the boiling kettleof the psyche brings to life the work, the vision, the art. Where dawn meets nightfall, the music of the hours, the silence by the beach with sand, the knot on the counter top, the muted television, the lost television remote, posterity and legacy, immortality and the mortal; the intellect is the master.

I think ofthe light in the fridge. How for me it can sometimes illuminate, radiate, light up the entire phenomenological plan of the order of this planet, of what I am writing, but the question begs, does the artist have an ego, is it unfulfilled, is it more mythic embryo than the odyssey in the womb. What is talent, that seems to come so naturally for the chosen, or, plays out as dubious and unnatural for the audience. Can the negative, can depression fuel, and nurture art?There is both affected dark in that supremacy, and light.

And of damage, of the photograph album of the soul rising to the surface; art too can heal, and can be a blessing. Yes, yes, the misfit can heal, and can be a blessing. We need not only look at Vincent van Gogh as a Dutch painter who never sold a painting in his lifetime, we can look to Africa’s nonconformist artists (Dambudzo Marechera, Richard Rive for example), and we can look to the universality of the world. Look upon the broken link to find the livid owl. Look upon the psychological education of the artist from childhood to death.

Continue Reading

African Renaissance

Cyber-terrorism

Abigail George

Published

on

Every day in this country there are men, women and children who live without honour, decency, values and integrity. This is Africa and sub-Saharan Africa’s masterpiece that we have discovered.

Time is running out on us to develop successful behaviour. The future is now. Life is impoverished, marginalised and disadvantaged areas are teetering on the brink. What has led to the inevitable decline that has advanced upon the poor in Africa during these turbulent times. I think of the visionary leadership of President Trump.We live in a world of simulation, where there is no contact between a large number of people due to the digital divide, information technology, poverty and prosperity and wealth, although we are all linked by the matrix and flux of culture. These multiplying and restructuring connections through serves evolution. I think of Kelly Askew’s “hydraulic needle theory”, Neil Armstrong, Thomas Jefferson.

Knowledge is intense. We tell ourselves that good will attempt to overcome terrorism. Resistance is futile.

A digital evolution where advancements are being made everyday all over the world concerning the rights of the third world countries in Africa. Sanitation, wells, electricity are linked and frame health subjectivities.

It is oral evidence, proof of the comprehensive contribution to positive social outcomes in this age of modern society, God and the revolutionary spirit, religion and the church that has given us life. The private of identity history of the economic apartheid of Africa, its stranglehold on its residents, has forged key figures and major role-players in African history to flesh out our relations of ethnicity, class/ruling class/president-elect/occupation, holistic democracies. The Coloured contextualised means of mixed race.

For humankind “to live long, and prosper”, we have to accept counterpowers, mental and cyber-freedoms.

Is this the legacy the leaders of our government and the African Renaissance want to leave us with? South Africa is on a self-destructive mode even more so than Zimbabwe. Stress and depression are rife in the workplace. People still ridicule mental illness and depression (for example, John Nash and Anne Sexton). We are missing the childlike innocence all citizens had in the novel beginnings of the new South Africa. Our Rainbow Nation. Our global village. We don’t have enough intelligence at our disposal as first world countries. We think of transport and we think of roads, we do not think of the bigger picture. Trade. Trade routes. Free trade. Why is it impossible to have rocket men, far-reaching satellites, astronauts from Africa?

As an empire, America is a stronghold, the leader of the free world, the home of the free, land of the brave.

Africa has good politicians, and bad politicians. Africa has corrupt politicians, as is the upper hierarchy that exists in the corporate world. The nature of the new game-plan is how fast can I make new money and spend it. On our school playing fields there exists an uninhibited violence and pornography is rife in homes. What would the dead heroes and heroines of the struggle desire be for revenge on all the negative issues that are prevalent in today’s society? Only time will tell. Even with the horrors of defeat facing us in all spheres of the human condition we must look upon positive solutions to free us from daily pessimism. With every psychological framework of an extraordinary mind comes perception, even before education.

Analysis will always lead to the final break, or unnatural breakthrough devoid of anthropological subculture.

It is illegitimate to write the history of only part of an absolute, and total community.

War crimes, hate crimes, slogans, speeches, murder, spy games, warfare, guerrilla tactics, scorched earth policy, Intel, intelligence, collateral damage, inconclusive, sectors, precincts, districts under guard and who still remembers Guantanamo Bay? The stuff of movies right. Perhaps a film by Orson Welles. The magical stuff of the imagination. War games. Spy Games. There are no sides here.There is only the ferocious coupling off of countries and citizens against terrorism (for example, cyber terrorism, eco terrorism). There should be only one allegiance and that should be to the one country empowering other people in developing countries. How can you hold a superpower responsible who diminished the UN Security Council? Let us think of the computer logic of world superpowers and the elite such as Saudi Arabia, Korea, Japan, and Russia.

That were never even intimidated by them and who doesn’t even think he, his country should be held responsible for the war crimes in Iraq? Perhaps in the past (as history has foretold), the accountability of the decision-making of Bush and Blair will rest on the world’s regard for these two world leaders. Somehow these days it feels closer to home. In mass media today, I think of Black and White personalities that have made their mark on society throughout the ages with their social point of view, their beliefs and existence, however fragmentary and dominating, mechanized and robotic. When that is projected before the followers of essentially two worlds, present and future, we still consider the scientist with all of their expertise as viewed as either a villain or the saviour. In the computer age, everything is mentally, verbally projected.We must start thinking of a specific parent culture when it comes to the divide and conquer rule of the world of computers.

Continue Reading

African Renaissance

Marilyn Monroe: A cuckoo hatchling pushing eggs outside of its nest

Abigail George

Published

on

They took photographs of you. Might as well been from dawn to dark photographs. In pictures, in films, the light certainly never left your eyes. Your words are my words.

I am sad too. Out on the road, on your way to paradise, your calling, you could never be a face in the crowd, an ‘apparition of petals on a wet black bough’. You thought that you were weak and depressive, insecure and magnolia. I’m alone. I’m alone again, a solitary figure thinking ever after of you, for you are the love of Ophelia’s life, of you, and the ownership of daughters in a maze, the race question, the class system when in Rome. You either love me, or you don’t. You either care for me or you don’t.

Once my flesh was a prize, now I’m older, wiser, but what to do with this knowledge, there’s no exit out of this soldiering on, sleeping alone, waking alone, and I’m surrounded by star-people who work miracles on me. I trust so hard, I let the sun go down on me, summers are cold, winters are cold, they whisper of their neuroses to me, and I’m asking for forgiveness, and I’m asking to be loved, and I’m asking you to fall in love with me if you dare, she’s transformed into matter, particles, atoms, molecules, air, Norma Jean and Marilyn, and I can’t accept anything that is less than love, or reading the wonderland-feeling of your body, and I think of your gravity, meeting my gravity, your air meeting my outspoken lips, my hair, my shoulders, and I want to bring you down, give you all the love that I can give, instead I’m sleeping alone, and you’re with her, you’re with the love of your life, and I only fell asleep in the early hours of the morning, the night was hell to tell you the truth, because you weren’t here if you want to know.

I’ve been listening to Coldplay the entire morning, trying not to think of you kissing the love of your life, while I’m here on my own. So, I drown in black water, by a river of trees. You drowned in the black water of romantic love, the stigma and discrimination of mental illness, chronic illness, and competition. You truly had the childhood of a poet, of an artist. You always were more artist than actress. You were obsession and trophy, the filmmaker’s actress, the poet’s poet. Your conception of the world around you, our world (so to speak), became something of an obsession even for me. Near the end of your life, you must have felt as if you were dying inside. Slowly. Fading. Away.

There was always some kind of power imbalance in the relationships you had with your lovers and husbands, and so, from there, your journey, your voyage into eternity. I think of the history of your family, your zero cultural background, yet you still did it. The achievable was the impossible. The doing the establishment, the dominant players in your life always the men. I think of the incidents of abuse and trauma in your childhood and adolescence, the abandonment and neglect by mother figures, the self-medicating of your long-term stress. I think of the chronic maltreatment in childhood in my own life, what bearing that it has on yours. The severe neglect, the lack of mother love, and later my psychological problems, the feelings of being misunderstood, undermined and dissociating myself, withdrawing sometimes completely from society, from reality to write. Mental cruelty should, I think, fall under the trauma model of mental disorders. The psychological imbalance of emotional scars versus mourning the imprint/s of what was lost, or, the blank slate of denial of what was lost, their human stain never heals. Never leave you completely.

This learned kind of helplessness that you need a man for. To keep you safe. Safe from all harm. From a flock of men in suits in the asphalt jungles of city life. There is trauma and relapse, trauma and recovery in my life, no real sense of family relationships as there was in yours. You discovered self-isolation in the abuse, as did I. The origins of theory, psychology, counselling, and I was a victim never discovering truly the art of romantic love, sustaining relationships, reconnecting with society, community. I was a female victim. You were a female victim. All we wanted was to be seen (visible, visible, visible), separate from the entire human race, but equal. You were a pioneer in your field. Artist, not actor.What to do with all the shame, the trauma, the guilt-ridden trap of never being good enough, never feeling loved, never being an exquisite enough child, or, youth, you put it out there. You put it into words, add a kind of narrative and context (what you don’t do is call it conceit). You acted, and wrote. I acted, and wrote. Our childhood, our upbringing, our mothers, it all made us both culturally sensitive, preciously aware that life is short and hell, and that the divided self is no survivor. That life is an assignment, a rollercoaster ride at an amusement park, and looking at paintings, and photographs and ephemera at a museum.

I tell the pilot. You think you know me; you think you’ve fallen in love, but I’m ghost. I’m fattened ghost, self-conscious ghost, it feels like it did when I was little. I miss you waking up in the morning. I’m not intimidated by your lady friends anymore, just scared-competent. You can love whomever you want, show me mercy, show me grace, make me cry because you’re so good at doing that to me anyway, and this funny woman loves you so much, would do anything for you. And then I woke up as if from a grassroots-dream, glee, fragile, how to live without you, this fire catching fire, and I think of the journey and direction of the mis-understood flame, and everything is psychological guess-work, my jealousy is magnificent, my love is abundant and needs permission from you to exist, all I have is this organic depression, this pilgrimage. Delete all of that.

You taught me that what is pristine, what is innocent, what is tenderness, is what we as humanity, is what I must uphold and protect. Of course, you were a woman of clandestine vision just like Princess Diana. The broken link breaks the seam, until we become figures in the lucid sky, leaning towards altruistic heaven. For it is only heaven that accepts us in the final equation. The primitive chord drags us down low (to hell), the push and pull and living in the moment of it all, turns us on to grit our teeth, the pain and bear it as much as it is possible for us, and that same chord drags us to the point of reconciling with the rest of the aspiring human race. We are both rope and boat, sound of the ocean, dark mountain, cold grasses. We are night-shift workers. Never conceived those sons and daughters. That son and daughter. We, why, we are diamonds.

Continue Reading

Latest

Americas30 mins ago

Joe Biden in 2020 Copies Hillary Clinton in 2016

The 2016 Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucuses were held on 1 February 2016 and produced 49.84% for Hillary Clinton and 49.59%...

Environment3 hours ago

Making the impossible possible

Sitting at a bus stop one day when she was 16, When Miranda Wang saw someone throw a plastic bottle...

Newsdesk5 hours ago

AfDB hosts talks with ICRC on making an impact through collaboration

The African Development Bank held talks with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Vice-President Gilles Carbonnier at the Bank’s...

New Social Compact7 hours ago

The drive for quality education worldwide, faces ‘mammoth challenges’

Aligning inclusive, quality education with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was centre-stage on Friday, as the President of the UN...

Newsdesk11 hours ago

ILO: Employment policies are key to address the challenge of migration

Employment policies and strategic alliances to seek effective and sustainable solutions are key to address the challenge of international migration,...

Style13 hours ago

The Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45

It has been more than 85 years since Breitling introduced the first modern chronograph, whose influence on watch design has been...

Reports15 hours ago

Digital technologies: Democracy under threat according to Kofi Annan Commission

Annan Commission calls for urgent action by governments, business and civil society to protect democracy from digital threats. The final...

Trending