The Fig Tree

The Fallen Fig. Theodoros Stamos. 1949

The Fallen Fig. Theodoros Stamos. 1949

“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.”

From The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Poetic Memory

An extract from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera:

“The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful … Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.”


Home is not always as glamorous as being in exotic places but it feels good and comforting all the same. In his piece, Home Sweet Home, Damien Hirst screenprinted a plate to look like an ashtray, a comment on the gritty comfort of home as well as the fragility of human existence.

Home Sweet Home. Damien Hirst. 1996. Screenprint on porcelain.

Home Sweet Home. Damien Hirst. 1996. Screenprint on porcelain.

Cigarettes are a common motif in Hirst’s work (even after he quit in 2006) which he uses as a metaphor for life:

“For me, the cigarette can stand for life. The packet with its possible cigarettes stands for birth, the lighter can signify God, which gives life to the whole situation, the Ashtray represents death […] being metaphorical is ridiculous, but it’s unavoidable.”

Dancing Fish

On attaching meaning where there is none:

“It was like when the music comes on at the Chinese restaurant and suddenly even the random movements of the fish in the aquarium seem choreographed, thick with meaning; then the music pauses and meaning abruptly disperses. The fish seem dumb, as do all the diners.”

From Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen

(image thanks to

(image thanks to