In the poem “The Shag-Eyed Shark,” a crew of crusty fishermen vent their rage on a shark, cutting out its liver, only to have the shark help them catch a school of prized mackerel. While the old salts in this didactic tale learn not to judge by appearances (they even open the shark again and replace its liver), men & shark in the real world haven’t quite achieved that level of friendship. But if you would like to extend some kindness to sharks, (or other imperiled sea friends), your donation to Oceana will be doubled if you donate before December 31!
Had a great time at an Artist’s Way workshop this afternoon.
In addition to inventorying our creative triumphs and horrors, we used each letter of the alphabet to write a word or an entire line. These off-the-cuff exercises are great because you might find a gem of a line that you can use later on. Writing like this also reminds me to loosen up, to stop thinking, “This is good,” or “This is bad,” but to say instead things more appropriate to the time, energy, etc. that the piece took to write like: “this writing has a nice sort of galloping spirit to it,” without it having to be “good,” or a product. I admit, X was hard. Xenophon, (a student of Socrates) wrote a famous treatise on horsemanship, and though using him was a bit of desperate stretch, it opened the poem up in a new direction that I could keep pursuing beyond the end of the alphabet if I so chose.
Elementary instruction, but
Far off in the misted glade
Geometric shapes resolve into
Horses carrying messengers.
In another life perhaps,
Joyously you awaited them.
Knowing you had just the right fragment
Learning first how to translate and
Maybe someday becoming the words themselves
No matter if you’ve forgotten alchemy
Or another lost art,
Perhaps still there on the edge
(Quiet) of remembering or
Re-envisioning how it was or went
Somehow, even now, all is not lost.
There is still something there.
Understand you can still see or
Visit those places once outside now
Within and maybe a third space will open
Xenophon spoke of the unlikely
Yoking of instinct and sense and
Zeus changed forms so to enlarge his own myth.
These great white shark slippers are both cozy and imposing. One of my favorite gifts this year. (Thank you J&J!)
And in a semi-related thread, check out these disturbing/high-concept snowmen sculptures. There are two shark-themed creations in the collection that are pretty great. (Thanks HK!)
The NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) willing be voting on new guidelines on permissible underwater sound levels. Invasive military testing, oil drilling and other underwater shenanigans often mean illness, disorientation, strandings and death for dolphins, whales and other marine animals. Your voice matters.
- NOAA introduces Dolpin and Whale 911 (newsherald.com)
- Virus Kills Over 1,000 Bottlenose Dolphins Along U.S. East Coast (gcaptain.com)
- Feds OK Navy’s sonar training; environmentalists sue over whales (fox5sandiego.com)
Randall (of Honey Badger Fame) gives his signature narration to this exciting shark montage!
Thanks to the good people of Stop OCEARCH for this festive image.
This orange cat seems quite pleased to be emerging from the mouth of a wicker whale.
Today my friend Carolyn sent me Derrick Jensen’s essay “World Gone Mad.” I am a big fan of “Loaded Words,” his piece on writing and activism, and I also like that Jensen is so polarizing.For every reader who finds his work too strident or too nihilistic, another seems to feel relieved that someone is finally telling the truth about what is happening right in front of us—the wholesale destruction of the natural world. Jensen’s thesis in“World Gone Mad,” reminds me of the central idea of the documentary “The Corporation:” if corporations are legal people, than as people, they fulfill the clinical definition of a psychopath.
As I walked home today, trees on St. George Street shed scarlet leaves. A cool breeze sent them skittering into the gutters. An October feeling, an autumn event, in the gathering darkness of a December afternoon. Then I remembered how hot October was this year, and perhaps the year before, although I confess time has always seemed more blurred in California where the seasons are mild. Now that climate change has made the weather and time itself more scrambled, coherent patterns seem even more elusive. But I remember for the first ten or so years I spent in California, the winters brought torrential downpours. Now rain is rare. The hot days stretch far into fall, and seasonably appropriate cold ones are often followed by afternoons of blazing heat and relentless sunshine whose cheeriness seems slightly eerie in the wake of what we know is happening to the earth. The weather is crazy everywhere this winter.
And as I passed the leaf-strewn gutters with their smokey-sweet, vaguely nostalgic smell, I remembered Jensen’s essay and how he questions the refusal (or inability?) of most people to mourn the death of a species or the decline of the oceans. What, I wondered, does that sort of mourning entail? If grieving the loss of a person involves the shattering and rearranging of the self, how might mourning the loss of a river, of lions, of snow, of wolves remake us as people?
This blog sometimes feels as erratic to me as the recent seasons. I write about sharks and ocean conservation and I write about mourning my father and the anticipatory grief I feel about losing my mother. I write about loss of place. The death of great artists. Maybe many of these threads are just variations on a theme—things that are going away. Which brings me back to Jensen’s essay. While it may not be brimming with holiday cheer, his piece, if not a seasonal wish for peace on earth, is a plea for sanity that will save earth (and ourselves) from destruction. Let me know what you think.