Today in the darkness of the classroom, I remembered how pop culture is often a kind of vehicle for the spiritual, the sacred. It is easy to remember this truth in the realm of music, but easier to forget during things like movies involving killer sharks.
In the last fifteen or so minutes of “Jaws,” Hooper submerged in his steel cage, tries to escape the gaping, strangely feminine mouth and battering ram of a body of the pursuing shark. Students groaned as Hooper’s spear gun glided hopelessly away to the sea floor. As the shark parted the bars of the cage and Hooper escaped into the sanctuary of a nearby reef, I said rather morosely, “I hope that doesn’t happen to me.” The class cracked up. I felt good not only because I’ll do anything for a cheap laugh, but because I sometimes remember: “Oh yeah, this whole project is culminating in my descent into the waters of South Africa in a shark cage!”
Often this truth flat-out horrifies me.
But today I started remembering my over twenty-year catalogue of shark dreams. I have been confronting sharks for years. Underwater, at the surface, sometimes flying through the air. But never consumed, never bitten or tugged at, never even bumped or inspected. I’ve watched for them at night, my binoculars trained on the dark water. I’ve lived in empty trailers on desolate beaches just to be near the seas where they swim unseen. So this descent into the cage, though foreign and terrifying in a physical sense, feels in some deeper, intuitive way, inevitable– the conscious version of the descent I’ve made for years in sleep, in dreams.