Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quarter-life crisis or the beginnings of depression?

I love this fig tree description/analogy Sylvia Plath gives. I mean honestly, up to this point, I'm almost like, dude, you're not suffering from depression. You're suffering from quarter-life crisis!

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
--[pg 62-63, The Bell Jar]


I think that's a marvelous little scene, this imagination of hers swimming before her eyes, her own doubts and crisis turning into visual metaphors in her mind. Later on, as she begins to sink into depression, she starts having a similar ADHD about her goals and the things she wants to do, except it gets more neurotic. Here, at least, it still seems normal - a young woman with too many options, and unable to make up her mind about what path to take. I feel like we all go through this because we think about how we only have one life, and we want to make the right decision to set us on the path towards that ultimate goal. Life, for some reason, seems so incredibly inflexible, as if, if you don't make up your mind now, you'll be screwed for life. But I've just arrived at the end of the chapter where you finally see her falling into her depression. And that, I must say, is incredibly well-done too. I feel the depression, the hollowness, sinking through me as if it were me. I'm becoming enamoured with Plath.

2 drops:

Maria said...

Ah. I read The Bell Jar for the first time when I was a sophomore in college. I had come from a small town, Catholic girl's school where we read pablum anthologies with truly dull stories. And then all of a sudden, I realized what was OUT there. Plath. Salinger. Ginsberg. Even Emily Dickinson was revealed to me to be a slight little rebel instead of the simple bird loving spinster that the nuns had taught me that she was.

Plath can eek into your blood a bit too much, though. Maybe you want to temper her with some David Sedaris???

Hey, thanks for stopping at my blog and your kind words. Nice to meet you.

moonrat said...

it's totally true--sylvia plath is to literature what ryan adams is to music

(hmm, what's a good term...? "mood inducing" how bout.)

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