It feels weird today that I’m writing about how it might be possible to get out of the seemingly endless reiterations of people who have presumed to think they could know the reason for Sylvia Plath’s suicide, in February 1963. From the poems that Plath left on her desk when she ended her life, she has been pathologised, psychoanalysed, demonised … I’m not a Plath defender. I refuse to take part in any debates about who was to blame.
I wasn’t going to write anything about Amy Winehouse today but I’ve already seen people laugh about her, blame her for being a terrible role model, and heard her described in the news only according to her episodes of drug use and not her music. I can see that what happened to Plath and her work is already taking place again.
Sometimes people just break. We can’t presume to know why. The things that make people break terrify us. We want to be able to control them, to put them where they can’t make us feel implicated. The mad are ridiculed, the self-destructive are despised – pain is patronised. Yesterday was a dark day indeed, and maybe people should remind themselves of the difference between a person who suffers a kind of madness that they take out on themselves, and a person who takes out their madness by killing 91 innocent people.
Amy Winehouse made stunning, one of a kind music. She had an incredible voice. And god she could write.