Why fish are not blind - a poem and an illustration


© Judith Huang 2020.

Why fish are not blind

What is this face without eyes
but whose every surface is eyes?
I plunge into and against oceans
not because I am not afraid
but because it is necessary
to brave them

The bream know
you are in their dream.
They may defend it.

In the shallows
snook hover over
the sandlands
as ghosts

If you do not peer
into the kingdoms
under the waves
there is no way
you can extract the pearl

Everywhere the colour has come out
of these
inimitable
sacred
missing
floors

by Judith Huang

As mentioned in our conversation with @johnnydavis54 and @Douggins - this is the final poem in a sequence (http://judithhuang.com/2019/12/25/twenty-poems-to-round-out-the-year/) of twenty I wrote at the end of the 2019. They came in a run (the word we use around here for when the fish are all biting and you pull them out of the ocean one by one by one) after a period of lying fallow and making a practice of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I’m curious what people see in the painting/poem so do let me know what you make of it?

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It’s lovely to see the text of the poem after hearing you read it out loud. I like the last four words, each word per line, gives a feel of riding a descending current. I also hear some echos from other invocations of the sea-

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change

And also

The Bottom of the Sea is Cruel-

Hart Crane, who wrote the last line, got drunk and jumped overboard, his body never found but his weird poetry still remains.

I see nothing cruel in your invocation of light and a disturbance that is more of a gentle feeling, the motion of the ocean is friendly in your drawing…reminds me of the Water Lillies which is more about surfaces and sky…yes and floating in between…and your catching a seeing through the eyes of the other than human feelings…

As our conversation floated a bit around boundary conditions and how we figure that out in our discourse events I like that you have been proactive, Judith, and reached out to us through your artistry.

I look forward to listening to the video, when Doug gets a chance to upload it, so that I can reflect more on words in written form and words produced with voice.

The bottom of the Sea, in your symbolic landscape, is not cruel at all. Poetry it is said comes from our future. As our collective consciousness mutates you/we may have access to a different other than human zone. Our spines are relics of our pre-human form…we were once reptiles, and amphibians…and now we walk upright, run, skip, dance…the language of the body is movement and that is what I take away from your ensemble. Thanks again.

The bottom of the sea is kind…

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Thanks Johnny for that wonderful reflection, that quote from the Tempest is one of my favourites. In fact one of the legends in my novel is a reworking of that play in a Southeast Asian context because it happens to be my absolute favourite of Shakespeare’s.

I hadn’t heard of Hart Crane before, but should look him up.

It’s interesting that you related the peaceful feeling of the painting to the poem; it being the sea I had done it on a different day from writing the poem and so as a result of the sea being different each day it was in a different mood. But also as I have gotten better at navigating the movement of the water I have been able to see more interesting things on the ocean floor. One of the strange things about floating over coral is that it’s often more dangerous to be in shallow than deep water because you can get flung against the coral if you’re too close to it - I have gotten cuts that way.

I have always wanted to be one of those people who can climb trees and swim in the ocean, and I’m right now learning how to do the latter.

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This is the impromptu recording of the reading. The conversation continues after the reading of Why fish are not blind.

…also, before the recording Johnny led Judith with a Clean Language process, exploring what it is like when we are writing (poetry) at our best. Judith reached deep into metaphorical/metaphysical territory, equating poetry to lightning…it is like “catching the numinous” with pen and paper…much more was said but, like lightning, my memories of the experience … once there … now passed.


And, dear Judith, I do appreciate you putting yourself and your creative pearls “out on the line” for others to nibble upon. You may or may not catch the attention that the poem(s) deserves, but that is beside the point. I am rereading your poem now and I think it speaks to the creative realms and our fleeting access to it. The first two lines keep circling around in a loop as I read them. This poem and its accompanying illustration remind me where to look and to keep looking.

As one who claims the perpetual role of non-artist and non-creative, I appreciate those who recognize what I cannot see for myself, in myself. Somewhere in the conversation you simply stated that if you have written a page you are a writer; if you have made a poem you are a poet. I will still continue to hold only my artistry and will still only share it with a select few, those that I know will understand and appreciate.

…I began reading David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity a few weeks ago, a collection of reflections by a man whose artistry I know nothing about. I like the metaphor of fish and the surface relation to your poem, of course!

From the Introduction

Ideas are like fish.

If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.

Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.

I look for a certain kind of fish that is important to me, one that can translate to cinema. But there are all kinds of fish swimming down there. There are fish for business, fish for sports. There are fish for everything.

Everything, anything that is a thing, comes up from the deepest level. Modern physics calls that level the Unified Field. The more your consciousness—your awareness—is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch.

you say “…but whose every surface is eyes” I sense this about any tangible and fleeting element of the experienced world. Even moreso when attuned or tuned into the depths of the mind.

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Hey Doug the video is unavailable. It says it is private. We agreed to make this public. What’s up?

Great. I hope we can create conditions where every artist who shares her work gets the attention she deserves. I hope we can have more of these kinds of conversations to supplement the more theoretical flights. Thanks, Doug. I would like for our timing to get smoother. It’s a lot like a three ring circus.

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I do appreciate your active participation and desire for maintaining a certain level of involvement and rapport. Your stability in this unstable realm has kept many of us alive in the Cosmos. I sense we will arrive at what we so desire by continuing to support the arts and artists and by asking for support ourselves in the process. Please continue to speak your sense so we can make better sense of ours.

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Thanks, Doug. I am trying to keep myself in good swimming condition, even without a pool. I just got in the cold tub for five minutes and woke up. I am glad we finally can see the video and make sense of what we are trying to do here. The theme of creative process ( alas!) which for me was the best part of the interview with Judith did not get recorded! But what we did get recorded is probably enough for now. I do my best to create more conherence rather than less. At least we got a good intro for Judith and welcome her to our mashup! Somewhere over the rainbow…

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I have not yet watched the video, but just ran through the poems and felt very welcomed by the creatures moving about in the waters. I got that feeling, ah, this reminds me what poetry can do—who poetry is. I am at ease with this soul, which knows storms, sharp edges, translucent bodies, smooth stones.

I am also a fish in past, present, and future lives. The ear in me bows to the eye in you; the eye meets the offer of the ear.

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image

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" Protozoa, being one celled organisms, don’t have a brain or a nervous system. Yet they have a robust behavioral life-they swim away from harmful chemicals, and swim towards useful ones-and they even use past experience to guide their present response. The logical conclusion is that behavior, learning, and memory don’t actually require a nervous system."-Joseph LeDoux

I dreamed, last night, that I was in a crowded lobby and people were anticipating going into the theatre to listen to a concert. I noticed the poster had the name of the conductor ( which I failed to remember upon awakening) but the title of the composition, I did remember. The Liebestod. I listened to this love-death music a lot in my late thirties, during the height of the AIDS epidemic, as I lost many loved ones. One week I lost three friends. I never listen to that music anymore. The music is in my bones, especially, in my spine, right behind the navel. When I listened to it, so long ago, the music made that area light up and glow with a radiant, almost painful energy.

When I was young I moved towards love and away from death…but now that I am older and having listened to lots of Wagner, and lost lots of lovers, the difference between love and death are not so obvious…

I am going to a discussion with Joseph LeDoux , an evolutionary biologist, whom I just quoted above. Although he is a biologist, I want to ask him if he knows any Wagner? I am an underground man who is in-between two dreams…

Thanks, Doug, for being an instrument of my fate, as that bit of collective memory, that I worked so hard to catch, got deleted. I am now a man without much conviction. You have helped me understand my dream of techno-unification is not going to happen, for there is a deeper anamnesis, that the digital will never capture…

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@ycbmwig: I listened to your intro with @Douggins and @johnnydavis54. Thanks for sharing that. I liked what you had to say about simulated (or gnostic) realities and ethics, and would be curious to hear more about that topic. Maybe it’s in your novel? I am also interested in cosmoethics, or how we act ethically and aesthetically across many spiritual and material realities, or many different interpretive formations of the universal intelligent stuff.

I was also interested in how you’ve worked with “The Artist’s Way.” I have never read the book but have heard of it, and I believe my wife may still have a copy, though it may not have survived recent Kon-Mari inspired purges. (Shelf space, while fairly generous in our home, is still a valuable limited resource.) I would love to hear more about how you’ve used it, and how it serves your writing process.

Somewhere in the writers underground archives there are a few talks on writing and creative processes, with personal examples. Perhaps we can add to the collection, compare notes, offer reflections or draw some inspiration? I have my routines and practices, and sometimes frameworks, but also feel that ultimately I rely on pure instinct. On the other hand, I pick up new ideas all the time from wherever I can and try them out.

A poem for me is often a meeting place of disparate conversations and can be enhanced by multiple resonances in a sympathetic social sphere.

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@Douggins David Lynch is an amazingly creative person whose work (especially Twin Peaks and Mulholland Dr) really affected me on a visceral level, although perhaps in recent years he has disappeared up his own ass a little bit… it’s interesting that you should be reading his work on creativity! There is something there in his images that seems to reach deeply into the unconscious

Also thanks for uploading the video - I am still not sure about having my face/voice on youtube talking about aliens, but I guess it is in obscure enough a corner of the internet to not matter that much?

What beautiful and haunting images @johnnydavis54
One of my favourite fish to catch here is the garfish, which looks prehistoric with its beak jutting out from its lower jaw

It is always interesting to contemplate that creatures grow in proportion to the size of the bodies of water they are in, and therefore there are probably much larger versions of the ones we can see or catch near the shore, monsters that are lurking in the deep like the Leviathan or the Lotan.

Music with emotional significance does seem to leave its traces in the body - it can seem dangerous to revisit something if it dregs up pain and yet our instincts can lead us to the piece again when the time is right to process those emotions. Regarding Liebestod - “love is as strong as death”.

@madrush Thank you so much for your kind words about the poems. After I have opted out of FB it’s been so hard to tell if anyone is reading anything I put out on my website these days that even knowing that someone has read and enjoyed them feels life-affirming.

Regarding the Artist’s Way, I’ve used it to good effect at least three times now. The main two tools are the morning pages (3 pages of longhand writing of whatever dross is in your head) and artist date (do something fun to fill the well once a week) and also to read the chapters. It works for me. I haven’t done the additional exercises sometimes because they might feel more volatile or confronting and just these 2 are already quite a handful! But they are enough to get the creative mojo going after a block.

As for the ethics across dimensions and realities, yeah, that’s one of the themes I explore in my novel and other work.

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We take some comfort in that, Judith. Aliens are a big topic around here. Like Emily Dickinson I try to tell the truth but tell it slant. We are very tolerant of odd, nonacademic discourse. The weird and the uncanny are allowed. Please feel free to re-direct attention wherever you like. My preference is to color outside the lines.

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“on the day i was created i contemplated the ocean” © Judith Huang 2020

I tried to 3d print a scan of myself in the thinker pose but this is the best print ive managed so far. I posed my headless self on the beach to get this ozymandias -vibe photo

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Hi Judith, it turns out @Kayla still has her copy of The Artist’s Way, so I took a look. I can relate to a lot of it. The terms “artist,” “poet,” or “writer” are the closest thing I think I have to a spiritual identity. I don’t really feel at home in religion, business, or politics. There’s a way for everybody else, why not me? We participate in cosmic creativity every moment, and just don’t pay attention because we have our heads up our asses trying to look good or make money. (We, generally speaking.)

I don’t think I could do the program exactly, I’m in the middle of a very peculiar process, but I feel I could definitely benefit from the ideas and subtler cues and supportive atmosphere in the aura of the book. I have been busting my ass on creative projects for a long time; it’s not a path for the faint-hearted.

To me, Cosmos (this whole ‘platform’) is an artistic statement, a way of participating in the act of creation with a Creator who is vast, brilliant, and inscrutable. There is simply the isness of the act and experience. I am fascinated by how perfectly obvious art can be when it is coming from the transhuman working through the human.

I also quit Facebook a while ago. I can’t even imagine spending my time being there and doing that anymore. But I do miss the sense of activity and of there being always something apparently happening or about to happen—an always-on, never unavailable, intermittently stimulating feedback loop. I would like to create and be part of (immerse) in something that feels active and alive, supportive and stimulating, without the pointlessness serving algorithmic objectives—something that in itself means something, and we give meaning to, a truer experience.

I would definitely love to work an artist’s way of creating (from) the future in difficult times. Here is a gospel according to Marco (by way of Thomas, by way of @johnnydavis54 ): If we bring forward what is within us, what is within us will save us; if we do not bring forward what is within us, what is within us will destroy us. (Thus spake the ocean within…)

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@madrush I’m glad to know you still have your copy of the book! I have other friends who have read through it or made use of it in various ways, in any case it has always been a good resource for anyone who is or wants to be creative in any way. I have never felt it to not work before!

I am inspired by your attempt to bring about something different from the depressing thing that social media has become, and arguably, was created to be in the first place. The Zuck (whom I did not know personally but whom is 2 degrees of separation from me) has been bad news from the very start and I felt like even if it was a small protest of disengagement from me it would still be worth doing, even though everyone seems to think it is career/social suicide. I actually think being continuously glued to his product is the opposite of friendship/social interaction, so I don’t know, I am experimenting with paying the price.

I relate very much to your gospel. I think it is very true that if I do not have some kind of outlet for expressing myself I will die, at least spiritually. On the other hand the process of birth is a painful one, but then that has always been the case.

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This is true. And it can be very hard to love the pain as part of a process that creates some kind of beauty. Pain is fuel, I want to say, and which may also be true—but it (the pain of labor) is not always in a form that we can readily make use of… I think perhaps part of the process involves digesting the pain by breaking it down into smaller parts. “Chunk down, chunk slow,” John has often said. But it can also be a test of endurance that serve no particular purpose but to develop our fortitude and patience, ensuring that we focus on the matter at hand, a living being being born.

I am in the middle, at the moment, of a profound (for me) creative challenge. I am trying to come up with the most beautiful lines possible—a pleroma (concept from Generations talks) that can serve as the inner molten core of a pain body set free through a journey of ecstatic release. I love those moments in a poem that feel so good, and just right, and make all the work, despair, and confusion that attends to the reading/writing (life) worth it. If we could ramp up production of the poetic pleroma, I believe it would be of benefit to a great many beings.

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