Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not I.. in fact, I would have loved being friends with her. She was an extremely poignant thinker and writer. Lately I've switched studio spaces and the quote of hers has been running frequently through my head, "All a woman needs is some money and a room of her own to write fiction..." and though I don't exactly need to just write fiction.. I do need space for my creativity. Privacy and quiet. When I lived in Paris, I was mushed into a tiny studio apartment with another creative, where we literally slept in the same bed and in the end both drove each other nuts. It's paramount to have your own space. Brian Krishisnik visited our class in art school and I remember him saying, "For whatever reason, the universe, or whatever- conspires against you to stop you from creating art.." and that really resonated with me. I think a big first step, at least for me- is to have a place with no distractions, and where I can be completely sure of what I'm thinking and doing.

I love this photograph of Virginia Woolf. Isn't she beautiful? Supposedly she used to be a model for Pre-Raphaelite painters, including Edward Burne-Jones. She married Leonard Woolf, who was Jewish, and it was said their marriage was one of strength and happiness. They had a very special bond with one another. She had several mental breakdowns throughout her life, and had to be institutionalized- though her work never ceased for long. At the end of her life, she fell into her last and deepest depression. Her London home had been destroyed during The Blitz, when Germany conducted strategic bombings on the UK during WWII, she was in the middle of writing another script, and her latest book, a biography on a deceased friend, had not been received well. It was hard on her, and made her unable to work. On March 28, 1941, she filled her coat pockets with stones, and walked in the River Ouse, where she drowned. Her body wasn't found until almost 3 weeks later. She left this note for her husband which broke my heart:

Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier 'til this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.

It's interesting to read about someone so incredibly good at their craft, to let it all go in one swift act of suicide. But mental issues are that painful sometimes. Despite her tragic end- V.W. left us with some priceless works- I'll be dedicating some time to reading them. Here's a quote of hers that perhaps could have been useful at that time:

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.

And it's true.


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