Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Quote of the year

"That's a colossal squid; that's one colossal headache to defrost."

Oh yeah, I had forgotten the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) from last year, which those New Zealanders caught in the Ross Sea, off the coast of Antartica. Defrosting such a creature isn't simply a matter of, well, letting it thaw. The squid has so much squid (1, 089 pounds and 26 feet of it; and the eyes alone measure 10 inches each) that if you just let it thaw, the outer flesh will start rotting by the time the inner matter gets a chance to defrost. So you have to add ice into the saline solution in which you are immersing it (they haven't determined the sex yet). Indeed, one headache of a balancing act.

There's something interesting about the turmoil they go through in dealing with that hulking deep-sea corpse. I find it rather poetic. The situation, not the corpse. That mysterious colossal squid, which can descend down to 6, 500 feet in the ocean, and which has a sharp, wickedly strong beak, and has hooks on the tentacles; they just aren't seen underwater, alive and swimming and all.
So to have the largest one yet known above water, and to freeze it and have to defrost it, and all those scientists and researchers bustling around figuring out how they are going to do this right - over a colossal squid; it's a metaphor, yes. Nature has this built-in metaphor of our larger situation or story. No matter how much certain people make us out to be God, that conflict, that sunderedness between creatures still calls us: the enabling of our exploration and adventure, which God has created and made free. Free with the smiting proclamation of a thunderclap. It is to uncover the hidden metaphor and story that arouses our curiosity in such things of the natural world, like the colossal squid. One of those denizens of deep down where is found much other hideousness and freakishness incarnate:

Such are the rovers where no light breaks. And one of the strongest impulses of man is to bring things to the light; even when done as "playacting".

You can see some coverage of the squid thaw here.

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