Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The art of seeing

Disparate connections: a few years ago, in the National Portrait Gallery in London, I saw some amazing portraits by Don Bachardy, including one of Aldous Huxley accompanied by a quote from Bachardy's partner, Christopher Isherwood, which I was very taken with:

"How kind, how shy he is - searching painfully through the darkness of this world's ignorance with his blind, mild, deep-sea eye. He has a pained, bewildered smile of despair at all human activity. 'It's inconceivable,' he repeatedly begins, 'how anyone in their senses could possibly imagine...' But they do imagine - and Aldous is very, very sorry." (Diaries, 1939)

I saw a clip today on the BBC website of a giant oarfish (excitedly described as a "giant bizarre deep sea fish"). The oarfish lives at depths of up to 1,000 metres and can grow to 17 metres in length. Sightings of "sea serpents" originated in Norse mythology but are believed more likely to have been encounters with varieties of oarfish, including the majestic "King of Herrings", the world's longest bony fish. Even after the sharks have gone, the oarfish is likely to remain safe in its solitary depths - Wikipedia thoughtfully describes oarfish flesh as "not well regarded due to its gelatinous consistency".

Huxley died on the same day as JFK and C.S. Lewis - November 22, 1963.

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