on a whim, i picked up the jacques cousteau classic the silent world. although he was a native french speaker, he wrote the book in english, and i was shocked at how similar his prose is to the (translated) works i’ve read by antione de sainte-exupery, wind, sand and stars in particular. the story of cousteau and his team, exploring the oceans as the first ‘menfish’ is so captivating; i had never before considered those early days of sea exploration and how little we truly knew about the world beneath the waves.
although cousteau later gained the reputation of a conservationist, in seems many of his undersea experiments involve harming animals out of curiosity. will the shark die if you harpoon its head? why not just harpoon this whale and see how long it takes to die? oh, you’ve discovered a colony of monk seals, a species thought to be extinct for 300 years, so why not kidnap (his own words) a juvenile and raise it for a couple months until you realise how vast its appetite, and then release it to a zoo? although some of the things his team did, such as dissecting manta rays, led to greater scientific understanding of the species, many of the incidents served to highlight the difference in attitudes toward animals then and now.
anyway, that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book–i adored it and wished there was more to it, but that’s always the way with a good book.
One Sunday morning in 1936 at Le Mourillon, near Toulon, I waded into the Mediterranean and looked into it through Fernez goggles. I was a regular Navy gunner, a good swimmer interested only in perfecting my crawl style. The sea was merely a salty obstacle that burned my eyes. I was astounded by what I saw in the shallow single at Le Mourillon, rocks covered with green, brown and silver forests of algae and fishes unknown to me, swimming in crystalline water. Standing up to breathe I saw a trolley car, people, electric-light poles. I put my eyes under again and civilization vanished with one last bow. I was in a jungle never seen by those who floated on the opaque roof.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me at Le Mourillon on that summer’s day, when my eyes were opened on the sea.
you guys, i’m engrossed. i got hooked on game of thrones when it aired last summer, and now i’m reading the first book. holy shit. it’s addicting, and that isn’t an ounce of hyperbole. the book is so good i’m giving up my usual saturday night activities (sewing/watching a tv show, scoping out babes on the internet) so i can drink hot chocolate and read. it’s not as though i’m passing up a party, but damn! it takes a lot to disrupt my sewing routine. so, what i’m saying is, you should probably read the books too, and then we can discuss them together. maybe i’m alone in this, but i find it really enjoyable to read a book after i’ve seen the tv/movie equivalent, because then all the characters have stronger faces/voices in my mind, and i can hear them talking to each other and see them moving a lot more clearly.
i thought you all should know, because the new season of game of thrones starts tomorrow and i kind of want to watch it but i also kiiind of don’t, so i can let the episodes pile up and then watch them back-to-back in some fit. even my mom has this plan!! she just watched the first season last weekend–and i mean, the entire first season, in one weekend. family resemblance? i’ll say.
somewhat-random aside: one reason i want to curl up and read is that i got up super early today so i could attend yoga class before work. this shit is unheard-of in my world! i never get up two hours earlier for work than needed. AND, even crazier, i’m doing it again tomorrow.
second aside: before today’s yoga class, some intense Serious Kitsilano Yoga Broad came up and was complimenting me on my tattoos. she went to set up her mat and then came back and crouched by me, telling me ‘i love asking people about their power animals. mine is an eagle! they get picked on by other birds but they still fly free!! it wasn’t always an eagle though…’ i couldn’t help but to ask what it was before an eagle, and she looked at me very earnestly and said ‘a gazelle’ and then wandered back to her own mat. sometimes i hate how approachable i am, but in situations like that, it’s wonderful. when i’m in the mood to talk, i love learning random shit about strangers.
somehow i keep forgetting how much i adore the prose of david foster wallace. i recently picked up ‘consider the lobster’ and am falling back in love with his self-aware, dry, descriptive prose. his vocabulary is beautiful. i’m in awe. i am a voracious reader and somewhat studious (40-70 books per year, mostly literary heavyweights or solid nonfiction) and dude left me in the dust. seriously. sometimes they are words i haven’t come across, and must look up, but sometimes they are words i’m sure i should know but don’t, yet (example: synecdoche). maybe that sounds pretentious or unreadable, but i swear, it’s graceful and intense and perfect.
really–you should just read something by dfw. then come back here, chat with me, and we can get all book-club & talk this shit out.