Velella Velella

Apparently, Berlin turned to his encyclopedia in times of anxiety, reading it in alphabetical order to restore his peace of mind. When I read that, I had been thinking something quite similar. Once I talked with a friend about how when a thought becomes formed in the mind, one begins to see it everywhere. This is the recognition that Gadamer writes of: it is the first encounter that precedes recognition.
Thence the architectonics of the mind, based on the mneme of the art of memory: the different structures in the mind asking to be built for the purpose perhaps not only of pleasure but also of fortification. One such structure is the pursuit of the encyclopedia. To live in a fortified palace is to remember Mnemosyne and her place in Hesiod's Theogony: Memory begets muses in forgetting woe, and "Happy is he who the Muses love." (95-100)
Woe does not create, but shrinks to its shell of ugly things, like anger, which is never worth time. But to think of how it is that on this earth people may suddenly change the terms of that which is shared - communication, culture, contract - without any signal, leaving one to find one's way through the resulting chaos, may offend the ordered, hierarchical mind (any secretary knows the necessity of priorities). The ordered mind may wish to turn away to "bright dancing places and beautiful homes" the muses sing of. And there, behind the angry, pompous human forms is nature, "the dark earth resounded," with its awesomeness. Like thy tiny planktonic sea snails that feed on medusae. They are called purple or violet shells because of their surreal colour - the word surreal to mock what the mind claims as its own.
If there are beasts among men, how do they compare with the beasts of nature? Man has the potential to be far worse, hence the machinations of the other medusae, part human if in their speech and corrupt minds. One way not to be consumed is to make use of the beast, to remove it from its context. That is, anyway, what the dishonourable do as common practice, except like spoiled soldiers, they do not use the tactic to defend their homes, but to plunder.
"Only Buddha can laugh at everybody," was part of the inscription on a watercolour I once enjoyed. One may wonder how to laugh at that which offends better judgment. But there it was, the answer I had been wondering about: to explain the absurd is already to arrive at a joke, because the explanation - given that the situation is absurd - is not only a surprise, but can't truly make sense. They do have criteria, my beginner's joke begins, their criteria is called 'anything goes.'

An internet article recommended typing one's woes into google translate, and swap it from language to language to end up with a brand new toy: "together today science such as online translate." I found that particularly amusing because I think most people speak that way anyway (always the task of what is really meant). Everyone, myself included, could stand to be regularly edited by a senior professional.
But why would a person even need to laugh if they could sit by the lake and watch as many sunsets instead of the powder of fireworks that municipalities spend cheaply on the populace? Humour is a defense mechanism, possibly along with the encyclopedia because it was never schooling unto itself that saved us, even from ourselves.
And if memory is that palace that I agree it is, why would one debase it with humour unless one had to, to shake those terrestrial dogs from one's heels. It's the earth mixed with the wish to not take it so seriously. It's the spiral of up-down-up-down that is this life for those of us who have not mastered it; the spirals represented by the gorgon's eyes that are also Athena's eyes, "flashing" eyes. Are those not the eyes of wit? Wit in the battle of who we give our power to. I do not want to give it to the lower situations. I must laugh at it, practice that heroic ha-ha-ha that makes the corporeal enemy begin to wonder just how strong one is, and perhaps back down before the clash.
It's the spiral, too, of the Janthina, that tiny sea mollusc (like the medusa gorgon), whose family floats on rafts of bubbles they pump with a specialised foot. The genus of this family particularly known to feed on said medusae is the Velella Velella, popularly known as by-the-wind-sailors. It's polyp phase life-cycle reminds me of that microbe in the media, the S. Pombe, that can seemingly live forever if given favourable growth conditions. It is interesting that conditions must be favourable: no spirals, there. It is interesting, too, because so many discoveries are being made through yeast, yeast, so fruitful in metaphor, particularly when given in warning.
These structures of the mind, humourous or not, come with their limitations. One is not to take the elevator to the top floor and remain there in deceptive comfort. Velella Velella speaks of travelling by the wind, incidentally Athena's domain. Self-ended or obsessive structures are temporary, righteous indignation will always be knocked down, so it is better to laugh if that is what it takes to move on.


  1. "...and a lovely sound rose up beneath their feet . . ."

    - dance does wonders for certain angry pompous human forms.