Thursday, July 12, 2012

a fishy case of aestheticization

Try saying that last word three times backwards real fast.

I hadn't thought about that old TV series Sea Hunt for 40 years. Then I thought about it. Couple years later, I thought about it again. Then I thought about it just now.

I'm still trying to figure out what is going on with those marvelous fish swimming around inside that black-and-white-filmed water world. Inside those mind-warping shades of water-gray. Even when I was a kid, those fish were not actually just fish. They took on some other quality. Some kind of ideal condition beyond substance and beyond the power of naming or even metaphor. It made me feel groovy, when I was a kid, to stare at those fish swimming around Mike Nelson.

I said "beyond substance." But those ocean fishes had a peculiar mass and floating heft. I think the main metaphysical fish were probably groupers, swimming in their imperturbable, existential psychosis.

I think I've finally squeezed out a possibility for what the deal is with those fish (I'm very slow on the uptake, usually).

They were not fish. They were forms of the fantastic shaped by the mysteriousness of ocean water. From a state of organic normality they had evolved in my consciousness to the condition of pure aesthetic presence. A phenomenality of alien grace and gnomic locomotion. Happening inside an unfathomable, not-explainable environment (who in their right mind would attempt to define "water"?).

Apparently, my little human head had added something new to those ostensibly natural creatures: a dimension of the brute uncanny. And I suspect that the uncanny is an aspect or element contributing to the emergence of aesthetic sensibility. That's my theory for now, anyway. I like to think I have a sort of aesthetic soul. That would compensate for a bunch of personal voids.

I still remember sitting mesmerized in front of the old television set, watching those fish. I had no idea what the stories of Sea Hunt were about. In fact, those plots interfered with my pure aquatic amazement. For me, it was simply an unmediated hyper-experience of large and small fishes. And transcendental bubbles rising toward the surface, where sunlight gathered as pieces of improbable time and early melancholy.

I picked out some fish-trance and water-light music:


  1. Beautiful & relaxing music..Thank you!

  2. You're very welcome. I like the fact that Takemitsu used the word "For" rather than "Far."