What you are about to read began as a suicide note for a blog. Then I noticed that I was already dead. I hadn’t written in Lipstickeater for twelve months, left it (my digital-textual body) in a vegetative state. I left it for dead.
But if in this state, I suddenly wanted to compose a suicide note...it must mean that I am not dead after all! Suicide notes cannot be posthumous. Joy! I am not going to kill myself, but I am still a little suicidal.
When you are unhappy with living and discover the notion that you can actually end your own life, it is scary but ironically, it returns to you a sense of yourself that everyone else wants to steal only so they can destroy. In fact, there begins to gather a glamour about it in the very etymological sense of the word “glamour”: a dark haze over light. Suicide becomes dangerously glamorous when you are ten years old and suddenly kids in the playground begin to torture you because you are obsessed with My Melody. The years drag on from there as you get tortured for being homosexual before you know what homosexual is. Then you conclude that all you want to do is disappear from the tangible world.
As a sullen teenager, I was a stereotype of a suicidal kid. The world hated me and I hated the world right back. I was literally the kid smoking under the bleachers while the student government led a pep rally for the football players and popular kids in Guess jeans. Decades later, as I figure out my place in my professional world—which is the rarified and small one of academia and then, even smaller and more rarified queer academia—I found out that I am still the kid smoking under the bleachers. It sucked. It sucked and it hurt. And hurt me so much that I wanted to kill off the textual body that was ignored and belittled by my professional world.
Sooner or later you discover Sylvia Plath, and you discover the idea of being suicidal. Plath is more than the gleaming frighteningly blond head stuck in an unlit gas oven. In life, as a suicidal girl before she performed the act of suicide, she was a fiercely intellectual and doggedly emotional writer who used her pain as material and tool of her art. What stopped the teenaged me from going on and through with suicidal attempts was the glamour of Plath the Suicidal. “Being suicidal” is an identity that requires you to be alive. It is characterized by a constant and nagging obsession with one’s own death, but one in which the death is also infinitely postponed, for if you go through with it, you are no longer suicidal; you are just dead. If you are “suicidal,” it means you are constantly haunted by thoughts of killing yourself, but you are living through it. You write through it. You remain “suicidal;” you don’t commit suicide.
This week, fifty years ago, Sylvia Plath committed suicide. Last week, I found myself listening to Britney Spears for hours even though I never listened to her during her ubiquity in the early 2000’s, even though I didn’t actually own a single album of hers. I must be a true vintage whore because most things feel sweeter and brighter when they are at least five or six years too old. (Britney circa 2001 or 2003 is now truly “Vintage”!!) History is softer, more yielding, more yielding to one of my favorite feelings, yearning. So it is with Britney. Another blond who had suicide on the horizon. I think of her as always just about to burst into another breakdown, but only just so. Unlike Plath, Britney’s good at the teeter-totter of living. She makes dull soulless dance music, where “soulless” means not a lack of interiority but SATANIC!!! Satanic as in: the refusal of a dogmatic definition of inner life. The voice that combines a satanic spirit and a temperamental computer. It takes a lot to soften that voice into something vulnerable, but when it happens it might be really sweet. Her face is just this side of excessive inbreeding. Enough makeup (a lot) and she can tread between white trash rough diamond and plastic doll. I’ve been listening to her 2003 album In the Zone on repeat while struggling through some academic prose on embodiment. Obviously she doesn’t have the gift of language that Plath had, but In the Zone is kind of like Plath’s Ariel. It is high-gloss style confessional music that simultaneously signals the end of confessional music. Music that is all about you yet nothing about you. I purchased remixes of “Toxic” on iTunes and it sounded so right for the story I was working on. I wrote the following lines:
Afterwards, I went on ebay and found exactly the same old tour t-shirt I made my character wear. My character isn’t me, but after I wrote him to life I wanted to bend my flesh closer to his outlines. I get nervous. We’ll see. We’ll see.