Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Before he died, the late great Swedish filmaker Ingmar Bergman once said he hoped he wouldn't die on a sunny day. Implicit in his statement is a preference for gray cloudy days where the sun doesn't intrude upon one's eyes. With its constant bombardment of light rays upon the visible world, the sun has a tendancy to illuminate that which the suicidal person seeks to escape from. This is not to say that Bergman was suicidal, it is rather to parallel the comfort he took in existing under a gray sky with the sometimes necessary sensory dulling that keeps one in the world, which may serve as a point of convergence for mastress writers of dark territory: Sylvia Plath, Kate Chopin, Flannery O'Connor, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Joyce Carol Oates; not all of whom were suicidal, but all of whom wrote novels and stories tackling some major themes. In this way they are reminiscent of Bergman, who soberly and somberly tackled the meaning of existence by looking death in the face under a gray sky in "the Seventh Seal." From the edge of a high, jagged precipace, some writers, such as those mentioned above, look down into the abyss and are then able to conjure some of the most powerful meditations on the life in the sun: living.