Of course, the answer was staring me in the face; William Blake
is personified as the shark. I contemplayed both concepts - insofar as the shark is a concept - but failed to make the connection. Perhaps, subliminally, Blake was planting seeds in my mind. Seeds of shark. The shark is an interesting animal. According to Wikipedia
, the online encyclopaedia, the shark was once called a 'sea dog
', and in Blake's time would probably have been so-called. Certainly, Blake knew of the tiger and presumably also the lion, but I cannot think of any historical figures who were associated with the shark. We talk of 'loan shark
s', but we would never talk of 'loan lions'. We would certainly not talk of 'Richard the Sharkheart
', or 'The Shark King
This is odd in itself, this lack of noble association, as the shark is a powerful animal, a killer, and one would expect nobility to associate this animal's ruthless psychopathy with themselves. The lion and the unicorn are standard heraldric symbols, and no man would be displeased if he were to be reincarnated as a lion, or as a unicorn, although unicorns are somewhat feminine. Notwithstanding the success of 'Jaws', sharks have remained roughly in the same category as spiders and jackals, in that they are dirty animals, underhand animals. There is no reason to their killing, they merely kill as instinct. Like many of the creatures which live in the ocean depths, they are alien, despite - in the case of whales and dolphins - being more closely related to us than the butterfly, for example, another furry cuddly creature which I like to hug. Although there is a continuity of life, from the oceans to the land and to the air, we dwellers of the land tend to associate more with other land-dwellers and with birds than we do with fish and aquatic mammals. Even the dolphin, the most cuddly of all oceanic creatures, is still held in something closer to respect than familiarity. There is a barrier between us; where is their God?
We respect dolphins, perhaps some of us might one day hope to be a dolphin - whether through magic or genetic tampering, or vicariously, via the 'magic' of SCUBA - but they are still alien, Other; in the sense that one cannot imagine insulting a dolphin, or treating a dolphin with scorn or disgust, all of which are essential if we are to be equal. I can insult a cow, or a pig, and I can also respect a cow, or a pig, and therefore we are equal, me and cows and pigs. But man's relationship with the dolphin is based on a mixture of awe and curiosity, and as long as this persists we cannot be friends. Human relations cannot exist either, without the 'negative' emotions, otherwise we are simply placing the other party on a podium, turning them into an exhibit, a statue to be contemplated rather than a being as oneself. That is how I shall relate to the naked woman, another figure I hold in awe - I shall insult her. The naked woman is no different to the clothed woman, with whom I can communicate as one man to another man; it is only the lack of clothes that creates a wall.
And so the shark. As far as I am aware there have been no attempts to communicate with the shark. Man has long considered the shark to be the enemy of all that is pure and good; vermin to be destroyed. It is widely accepted that dolphins are potentially as intelligent as ourselves, and there have been attempts to teach them some form of language, as if they were benign alien visitors. Yet there have been no such attempts to communicate with the shark. Just as we accept the dolphin to be intelligent, so we accept the shark to be a mindless eating machine. Perhaps this is why we do not respect the shark. Lions project a noble air, and anyone who has been on safari will have seen lions sitting in the shade, gazing at the horizon. What does the lion think about? It does not matter, it is enough that it thinks, and that it is seen to think. The shark, however, does not rest. It cannot, for its 'gills' require a steady stream of water in order that the shark does not 'drown'. The shark is ever-restless, with no time for philosophy or music. What does the shark do, when it is not eating? What is the colour blue, when it is not blue? What is the sound of laughter, set in stone? Slow... glass?
Sushi. That's what she called me. Cold fish. What could the shark teach us, or us it? They have no hands to grip, and as far as I am aware they cannot 'sing', as the dolphin and the whale sings. Reading through a profile on Sharks in Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, it seems as if they are similar to the RADAR antenna-festooned WW2 night fighters, such as the later models of Bf-110 and Mosquito, able to detect infinitesimal quantities of blood in a large volume of water, just as the night fighter could detect a small quantity of metal in a large volume of air. "The sharks rely more on their superior sense of smell to find prey, however, once the shark is in the general area of the prey, the shark also uses the lateral lines running along the side of the shark to sense electrical pulses sent out by wounded or dying fish". I learn also that sharks are most definitely fish, and not mammals. If sharks are turned upside-down, they pass out, which is how researchers - and so there must be some, at least - handle the shark. And that is also how we must also handle the Jew.
"Until the late 16th century sharks were usually referred to in the English language as sea-dogs. The name "Shark" first came into use around the late 1560s to refer to the large sharks of the Caribbean Sea, and later to all sharks in general. The name may have been derived from the Mayan word for shark, xoc, pronounced "shock" or "shawk". The term for a group of sharks is a shiver" - although in my own opinion, a 'shock' of Sharks would be better. Apparently some sharks are homeothermic, which sounds a bit like 'homophobic', and I could have made a pun around that but I'm sorry, I have crashed. I cannot go on. Bring them on, lure them on, as if you were luring a snake into a corridor of guillotines; and then, when you can see the head, when the snake is stretched out, cut it to shreds.