Tuesday, November 29, 2005

May Sarton

"I have an idea that women are far more interested in self-actualization than men are. Women internalize their lives to a greater extent, and the poetry of internalization can be valid. Form may create the necessary "distance". What bothers me is nakedness as bravado. Then it becomes embarrassing: "Look at me...Aren't I shocking?" But transparency does not shock: "Look through me and find everyman, yourself" Somewhere between the minute particular and the essence lies the land of poetry"

(Sarton, 1973, p97)

As you can see, I'm still on my May Sarton book kick since reading Journal of Solitude. Im now about a third of the way through Mrs Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing which is a novel rather than an autobiographical work. One of the reasons I like Sarton's work is that there's a feeling of familiarity in it for me - Both books explore the creative process for women - the role of the artist. One through a journal, one through a story. It's interesting to me just how much the main character in the novel reflects the author (or rather, what she puts forward of herself in her journal)

Obviously, you have to look at the timeframe in which Sarton was writing - the journal was published in 1973 and the novel in 1965. Difficult times; challenging times. The novel sort of has a quiet, underlying 'female' tension in it - in the same sort of vein as The Yellow Wallpaper - a tension that Sarton discusses in the journal as embodied for women in the struggle between devoting themselves to either their art or their family, but never in full, to both. That women must make choices.

Undoubtedly, it's an understanding that I relate to because of my own decidedly solo journey - and even if I did settle down with someone, the odds of them understanding my art work are pretty slim. I have no illusions about that. It's not even that they have to understand it, moreso, that they support it - but without that understanding, there will always be an awkwardness to overocme, a gulf that separates me from them. Ironically, I've always felt that the women who encounter my work have an understanding of it that is closer to my own - the cameraderie of fellow travellers, perhaps - but I wonder if I will always have a deeper bond with close female friends than male lovers...