See something say something: or the varieties of creative expression

At a party recently, conversation turned to nudibranchs and sea squirts (I love these people I was with at this party, as they are the kind of people with whom conversation may turn to nudibranchs and sea squirts). Someone pulled out the ubiquitous cell phone and we looked at pictures of the variety of sea squirts, some feathered as a boa, others squashed as mud. At a little research aquarium I visited recently, I was amazed to see a baby starfish. I had never thought about the development of a starfish, that they were tiny and then got all growed up. We turned it over and peered at its porthole of a mouth. We saw anemones and learned that they can move by means of a sticky tubular foot that can tiptoe its way along. We spied on barnacles. Barnacles have the largest penis to body size ratio of the animal kingdom, so as to inject the girl next door, who ain’t moving. It is amazing the variety of ways we move, feed, and fuck. I’m struck though that it seems likely a snail will not find itself midway upon the journey of life in a dark wood, the right road lost. A nudibranch is not likely to cry out from its soul “what is my purpose?” I dealt an ignominious death to many tiny snails as I crunched across the rocks by the sea. They did not, I don’t believe, think me a harsh and uncaring god. In our seemingly infinite variety, we creatures of Earth, few of us wonder, imagine, doubt. We all procreate (well, I mean, I didn’t, but I theoretically could have) but how many of us create? The breaking waves made a visual Morse code across the bay. In days to come I may try to translate it in many ways: words, lines drawn by charcoal; I may cut pieces of paper and paste them together, could sew fabric swatches, record drum beats. I may sing a song of breakers, whistle through my teeth. Beat that, nudibranch. At the cosmetic counter I could paste on eyelashes the envy of any anemone, would anemones envy. But of anemone and I, only I would wonder if you think I’m pretty. How did it come to this, Charles Darwin? What a shitstorm of random selection led to my self-doubt, to the imagination of the person who invented clamato juice, to Dante and his dark wood. And, for god’s sake, why? I don’t know, but may we allow ourselves, we doubters and imaginers, the fullest variety of creative expression, as various as creation itself.


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