do you pray with your eyes closed, naturally?

The Virgin Suicides had rendered me speechless.

I couldn't tell which I prefer; The Bell Jar or this. both lift a similar theme; suicide, but the executions are carried out very differently. The Virgin Suicides is much wider, in terms of the impact of the suicide(s) on the (american) society. the estimations of the real cause behind their action and general discussions on teenage suicides crop up quite frequently in the book, opinions aired by professional psychiatrists, news reporters, teachers, and friends. both The Virgin Suicides and The Bell Jar are told from a first person point of view, but The Virgin Suicides makes use of an outsider's perspective, a group of 'obsessively watching', rhapsodising neighbourhood boys, trying to unravel the mystery of the sisters' elegiac departure from their discontented life.

The Virgin Suicides possesses that force, eerie with a hint of beauty which might seem sluggish most of the time to some people (via some reviews I encountered this morning, which fortunately didn't happen in my case, I truly enjoyed the book) but at the middle end, it gets really gripping, the very revelation of the final deaths is so riveting i broke into tears. it is a flawless case, a beautiful yet lamenting accident that is rather hard to contain.

the boys' fixation on the girls is very contagious, more contagious than esther greenwood's depression, because these neighbourhood boys are always pulled to two opposite sides at the same time: to keep themselves engrossed in the memory of the girls' short lives or to move on and back to leading a 'normal' life. it feels more balanced, not just like sliding down a dark path. finally the boys' decision is obvious, and although all their efforts have never really succeeded, their infatuation never very much subsides, even after reaching middle age.

whenever the boys feel they are very close with the lisbon girls, immediately they feel the distance growing, the gaps beginning to disclose again. to them, the lisbon girls appear both enigmatic and familiar, sometimes creating an impression that they're not unlike any other girls their age, but the conclusion always bounces back, that they're mostly inaccessible and incomprehensible.

the height of the Lisbon sisters' life perhaps is the homecoming dance, the only party they're ever allowed to attend. (I haven't watched the movie, but the screenshots of this scene make appearances quite frequently on the internet) that seems to be the epitome of today youth's deepest desire, an event during which they are able to forget all their predicaments and, to take a break from life.

the other neighbours often express their concerns for the lisbon family, but my favourite is this by Mrs Karafilis
In the end, it wasn't death that surprised her but the stubbornness of life. She couldn't understand how the Lisbons kept so quiet, why they didn't wail to heaven or go mad. Seeing Mr Lisbon stringing Christmas lights, she shook her head and muttered. She let go of the special geriatric banister installed along the first floor, took a few steps at sea level without support, and for the first time in seven years suffered no pain. Demo explained it to us like this: "We Greeks are a moody people. Suicide makes sense to us. Putting up Christmas lights after your own daughter does it--that makes no sense. What my yia yia could never understand about America is why everyone pretended to be happy all the time."
Here is about one of the newspaper articles featured in the book, an analogy regarding the lisbon sisters' tragedy (mild spoiler from here)
From that episode, no more indicative of spiritualism than a Ouija board's turning up amid the usual Milton Bradleys, Ms. Perl based her claim that the suicides were an esoteric ritual of self-sacrifice. Her third story, under the headline "Suicides May Have Been Pact," outlines the generic conspiracy theory, which held that the girls planned the suicides in concert with an undetermined astrological event. Cecilia had merely entered first, while her sisters waited in the wings. Candles lit the stage. In the orchestra pit, Cruel Crux began to wail. The Playbill we held in the audience showed a picture of the Virgin. Ms. Perl choreographed it all nicely. What she could never explain, however, was why the girls chose the date of Cecilia's suicide attempt rather than her actual death some three weeks later on July 9.
And various elaborate efforts to solve (or at least, understand roughly) the motive behind the suicides
Something sick at the heart of the country had infected the girls. Our parents thought it had to do with our music, our godlessness, or the loosening of morals regarding sex we hadn't even had. Mr. Hedlie mentioned that fin-de-sikle Vienna witnessed a similar outbreak of suicides on the part of the young, and put the whole thing down to the misfortune of living in a dying empire. It had to do with the way the mail wasn't delivered on time, and how potholes never got fixed, or the thievery at City Hall, or the race riots, or the 801 fires set around the city on Devil's night. The Lisbon girls became a symbol of what was wrong with the country, the pain it inflicted on even its most innocent citizens, and in order to make things better a parents' group donated a bench in the girls' memory to our school.


In the end we had pieces of the puzzle, but no matter how we put them together, gaps remained, oddly shaped emptinesses mapped by what surrounded them, like countries we couldn't name. "All wisdom ends in paradox," said Mr. Buell, just before we left him on our last interview,and we felt he was telling us to forget about the girls, to leave them in the hands of God. We knew that Cecilia had killed herself because she was a misfit, because the beyond called to her, and we knew that her sisters, once abandoned, felt her calling from that place, too. But evenas we make these conclusions we feel our throats plugging up, because they are both true and untrue. So much has been written about the girls in the newspapers, so much has been said over back-yard fences, or related over the years in psychiatrists' offices, that we are certain only of the insufficiency of explanations. Mr. Eugene, who told us that scientists were on the verge of finding the "bad genes" that caused cancer, depression, and other diseases, offered his hope that they would soon "be able to find a gene for suicide, too." Unlike Mr. Hedlie, he didn't see the suicides as a response to our historical moment. "Shit,"he said, "what have kids got to be worried about now? If they want trouble, they should,go live in Bangladesh."

"It was the combination of many factors," Dr. Hornicker said in his last report, written for no medical reason but just because he couldn't get the girls out of his head. "With most people," he said, "suicide is like Russian roulette. Only one chamber has a bullet. With the Lisbon girls,the gun was loaded. A bullet for family abuse. A bullet for genetic predisposition. A bullet for historical malaise. A bullet for inevitable momentum. The other two bullets are impossible to name, but that doesn't mean the chambers were empty."
Finally the last paragraph, honest in its incapability to entirely solve the mystery, is conclusive and relevant enough. I love how the boys are black and white frank about their failure to understand the lisbon girls, their natural suicidal tendencies, no matter how clearly presented the case is.
We couldn't imagine the emptiness of a creature who put a razor to her wrists and opened her veins, the emptiness and the calm. And we had to smear our muzzles in their last traces, of mud marks on the floor, trunks kicked out from under them, we had to breathe forever the air of the rooms in which they killed themselves. It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the treehouse, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide,which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.
amazing book

a friend: what's with the tacky gif?
me: just feel like putting it so my blog feels more real


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