The Moon, the Tide, and the Residing Shore – The Marginalian

Generally, a portray in phrases is value a thousand footage. I take into consideration this increasingly more, in our compulsively visible tradition, which more and more reduces what we expect and really feel and see — who and what we’re — to what could be photographed. I consider Susan Sontag, who known as it “aesthetic consumerism” half a century earlier than Instagram. In a small act of resistance, I provide The Unphotographable — Saturdays, a stunning picture in phrases drawn from centuries of literature: passages transcendent and transportive, depicting landscapes and experiences radiant with magnificence and feeling past what a visible picture might convey.

The Unphotographable: The Moon, the Tide, and the Living Shore

“Considering the teeming lifetime of the shore,” Rachel Carson wrote in her beautiful meditation on the ocean and the which means of life, “we’ve an uneasy sense of the communication of some common fact that lies simply past our grasp… the final word thriller of Life itself.”

That thriller comes alive via the lens of the standard, miraculous oyster within the opening pages of Rowan Jacobsen’s altogether fantastic e book The Residing Shore: Rediscovering a Misplaced World (public library), modeled on John Steinbeck’s forgotten masterpiece The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

Spring Moon at Ninomiya Seashore, 1931 — one among Hasui Kawase’s beautiful classic Japanese woodblocks. (Obtainable as a print.)

Jacobsen writes:

When the complete moon hauls again the waters, they emerge, a glittering band alongside the shore, like doubloons washed up from the wreck of a Spanish galleon. They shut their shells tight and, for a number of hours, change into land. Bears slip out of the cedary woods and trundle over them, selecting at small fish that lingered too lengthy. From a distance you would possibly suppose they have been glinting rocks, simply one other cobbly seashore, quite than acres of dwelling shoreline. However when you stepped out of your boat and explored, outdated shells popping softly beneath your boots, you’d odor their salt-spray aroma and listen to the crackling of receding water droplets and know that they have been the dwelling sea itself, holding on to the land to maintain it from squirming away. And when you sat down amongst them and pried open some shells and tipped the briny flesh into your mouth, you would possibly get some sense of the way it had all the time been.

Then the moon lets go and the water returns, snaking alongside the low factors, effervescent up like springs from below the shells. Quickly they’re coated, and so they section again to their different existence. They open their shells and drink within the sea. The bears withdraw and sixteen-armed purple sea stars pull their approach up the tide’s advancing edge, gobbling as they go. Tiny creatures hunker down beneath the shells, throughout the shells, spinning out little lives in a biogenic world. For a number of hours, they disappear beneath the waves. And when you arrived at excessive water and didn’t take the time to poke round, or when you have been from some place the place the land and the water have already come unglued and also you assumed that the world you knew was the one which had all the time been, then you definately’d in all probability carry on going, and also you’d by no means even know they existed in any respect.

Complement with the optimism of the oyster, then revisit different enchanting Unphotographables: Henry Williamson on the transcendence of a winter storm; Jack Kerouac on the self-revelation of the windblown world; Richard Powers on the majestic migration of sandhill cranes; Georgia O’Keeffe on the grandeur of Machu Picchu; Iris Murdoch on the ocean and the celebs; an Alpine transcendence with Mary Shelley; an Alaskan paradise with Rockwell Kent.

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