Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Against Every Possibility": Miracle at King's Cross

"For Plath, the pain of the past damage is never left behind. She is still lost in its labyrinth, and Paris: 'Was a dream where you could not/Wake or find the exit or/The Minotaur to put a blessed end/To your torment.'" (Erica Wagner's Ariel's Gift; Ted Hughes "Your Paris") In case its not obvious, Sylvia Plath has dominated much of my historic imagination of late, though not for academic reasons. Remember when I took the Meijer Briggs Personality Test Last February (of course you don't)? My scores revealed that I am an IN-SUPER F-J: Introverted, Intuitive, Extremely Expressing, and Feeling. In the simplest terms, this means I over analyze every detail of life, spend a lot of time in my own head, and feel emotions with an abnormal amount of passion.   Whether loving or despairing, I hold nothing back. For me, experiencing the highs and lows of both unrestrained adoration and paralyzing fear are as natural and involuntary as breathing. Thus, I spend much of my time tiptoeing around the edges of the rabbit hole, ever vigilante and frightened of falling down in the dark. That's where Plath comes in.

Sylvia was a woman who knew "The extremity of her feeling, the overwhelming flood of her tears," were often "out of proportion, the molten face and eyes hinting at a dangerous violence". Ted Hughes would later say his wife was "physically transformed" by either feelings of love, fear, or depression.  The most poignant example came early in their courtship when Sylvia "nearly missed Hughes as he came down to London from Heptonstall" in October of 1956. Perhaps, reliving her anguish over being abandoned in Paris by a former lover, Richard Sasson, when Plath couldn't find Hughes, she fell apart: "I was really frantic, unable to understand why Ted wasn't on one of these [buses]; he'd bought reservations: so, in a fury of tears, I fell sobbing into a taxi and for 20 minutes begged him hurry to King's Cross to see if by some miracle Ted might be there. Well, to shorten the trauma, I walked into King's Cross into Ted's arms...He looked like the most beautiful person in the world, everything began to shine, and the taxi driver sprouted wings, and all was fine".

"Lost in Labyrinth" by Melody Cleary
Each time I read that journal entry my eyes fill with tears. I know its melodramatic, over the top, even silly. But, I understand the fear and the hope for a miracle. Hughes would write of the same incident: "I saw that surge and agitation, a figure/Breasting the flow of released passengers,/Then your molten face, your molten eye/And your exclamations, your flinging arms/Your scattering tears/As if I had come back from the dead/Against every possibility, against every negative but your own prayer/To your own gods" (Hughes "Fate Playing") And, at least for me personally, Hughes hits on something. The hopes and dreams that are closest to my heart instill in me the greatest terror.  When the irrationality and fear gain too strong a foothold the idea of my affections and feelings being returned seem to stand "Against every possibility, against every negative, but my own prayers."

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