Archive for November 2009

Cave Fish of Utah

November 28, 2009

Of course they are blind. In the primordial generations, when they first stumbled into caves, their eyes evolved to larger and larger dimensions, almost the size of walnuts, stretching the retina to take in whatever filaments of light might remain in those cold mountain pools.  Over time the eyes turned hollow and sightless and took on a shape almost identical to the fish’s head itself, so that the fish appears to have three heads, while in fact the “heads” on either side are brainless mimicries, not hollow but filled with a fluid that helps maintain neutral buoyancy.

For eons they had no predators, until discovered by humans, who now have fished them nearly to extinction. There is a belief among the local people that three heads equals triple intelligence, and their buoyancy fluid is marketed, sadly, as a brain tonic. Both students studying for exams and composers working on intricate hymns are known to seek out a bottle of cave juice, as the bitter, foul-smelling liquid is popularly known here.

Another strike against the species is the fact that they are also savored by Mormons as delicious reminders of their tripartite doctrine. When the raw “Trinity Fish,” as they call them, are served up as a kind of communion, inevitably some slip through the oily fingers of the worshipers and end up writhing their way, via the church’s primitive drainage system, into the sewer running below the city. There, however, toxic human waste has mutated the fish considerably, so that the extra heads disappear, and vision returns, a fact unknown to those, directly above, who might benefit most from the transformation.

Mr. Chiron

November 20, 2009

 

Writer’s Barbels

November 13, 2009

fishtwins

Will transformation. Be inspired by the flame/where a thing made of change conceals itself. -Rilke

When the Mayan hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, descend into the underworld, they manage to outwit the lords of Xibalba again and again, each time using supernatural powers to escape death in a series of abominable confinements: Razor House, Cold House, Jaguar House, Rubber House, and so on. In a truly bravura trickster move, willing their own transformation, they allow the lords to toss them into a fiery oven, a cave within a cave. There they are burned, then ground to dust and tossed into a river. End of story? No. Undefeated, they regather and reconstitute themselves, first as a pair of catfish, then as freshly re-minted twins, and finally, after their revenge against the cave lords, as — oh why not! — the sun and the moon.

After undergoing a period of burning and grinding, I see myself in the catfish stage, the novel-writing condition, mental barbels probing the environment for food, perhaps even choosing to exit the water like the walking catfish, writhing/writing my way back toward the human condition, which of course, like all conditions,  is “made of change,” one or two shifts away from sun or moon, music or silence, difference or différance.

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