Archive for March 2009

This Side of the Blue

March 20, 2009


The surface of the ocean is a curtain pulled on an extravagant theater of life. But then we devise instruments: a sheet of glass, a glass-bottomed boat, a glass mask, a diving suit topped by a sphere of glass, (an aquarium to wear on the head, inside out). With such tools, we decide when and where the curtain will be parted, at least for theatrical interludes, such as a brief snorkel, or an episode of The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Soon enough we withdraw, the curtain closes, and we return to the limited but comfortable breadth of human breath.

When whales beach themselves, there are two shocks: first, that they have parted the curtain, broken the fourth wall, lunged out into the audience; and second that they have done so only to die, appalling suicides.

I imagine a more congenial future, one where the beaching whales can not only be saved but made as temporarily at ease in our world as we make ourselves in theirs. There could be an apparatus (maybe a platform with wheels and computerized lungs, movement controlled by slight flicks of the tail) that allows them, once they are comfortably equipped, to explore our side of the blue, to roll slowly down broad avenues, observant flaneurs, free to return, when bored with us, to the depths.