17 May 2011

Part II: The Sea

The following is the second part of a multi-part post. The post can stand alone, but if you would like to begin at the beginning, click here for Part I.

Socrates: The awe which I always feel, Protarchus, about the names of the gods is more than human--it exceeds all other fears.


Roy_Lichtenstein_Drowning_Girl 1963

IV. Death by Water
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones
in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passes the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl, 1963

A Reefnetter's Paean to the Sea by Tyree Callahan(source)

Tiresias: If I did not know at least this, I would not be a priest. Take a boy who bathes in the Asopus. It is a summer morning. The boy comes out of the water, goes back in happily, dives and dives again, then he is taken ill and drowns. What do the gods have to do with this? Should he attribute his end to the gods or else the pleasure he enjoyed? Neither the one nor the other. Something happened––which is neither good nor evil, something which has no name––then the gods will give it a name.

Oedipus: And to give a name, to explain things, seems little to you, Tiresias?

Tiresias: You are young, Oedipus, and like the gods who are young you yourself clear up things and name them. You still don’t know that beneath the earth there is stone, and that the bluest sky is the emptiest. For him who like me does not see, all things are a blow, nothing else.

--From “The Blind,” a dialogue by Cesare Pavese

Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael - Rough Sea at a Jetty 1650s Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael, Rough Sea at a Jetty, c. 1650