Monday, June 09, 2003


Sometimes you aren’t sure what is the product of your imagination, and what appeared on its own power. Yesterday I read a book by Antonio Skármeta, “La chica del trombón”, in which for at least the second time the author refers to the inhabitants of Gema, an apparently imaginary island in the Adriatic (first in “La boda del poeta”), who immigrate to Chile to escape from wars (a less dramatic version of Swimming to Antarctica….)

In the evening, I went down to my kitchen to make a cup of tea, and discovered a crab on the wall above the stove, almost at intersection of the wall with the ceiling. The crustacean seemed to be looking at me very intently—or maybe crabs only look intently because their eyes are very tiny? At first I thought the crab was an imaginary creature who was somehow a projection of a crab in my interior.

“Ha!” Raven, as usual is reading over my shoulder as I write this. “What a pile of crap: crab in your interior, indeed.”

I didn’t say it WAS; I said that was my first thought.

“Sounds like you were drinking more than tea. Are you sure you even saw SOMETHING?”

Rave, it was a crab. It was about 5 inches across, different shades of orange, and it wiggled its leg at me.

“Waving hello, no doubt. And did you happen to ask how it crawled up the cliff from the beach to your kitchen and then crawled up the wall?”

Not exactly. I asked it what it was up to. That’s when it wiggled its leg. I thought it was a sign, but it wasn’t in my language, so I didn’t understand.

“I think you spend too much time reading fiction. It’s taking over your daily life. Crabs are very tasty; you could have popped it into a pot of boiling water. Isn’t that what you people usually do to crabs?”

Rave, you’re impossible. For somebody so high-minded as you to even suggest killing a fellow creature is shocking. I wasn’t going to kill it. Besides, I’m allergic to shellfish. I just wanted to know its message.

“I’m not an assassin; I’m a scavenger. It’s my nature to know which creatures among the “possibly scavenged” are tasty. Probably there was no message. The creature was confused. All creatures are confused these days. We can’t believe the crazy stuff that’s happening on the planet. Another creature may have invaded its home and run it off. When we start imitating the behavior of your species, anything can happen.”

We’ve been down this road before, guy. I don’t want to take the heat for the nasty stuff some members of my species are up to.

“Fine. Some members of your species want to eliminate all the other species on the planet—not to mention that some members of your species want to eliminate a significant percentage of your own species just because they don’t agree with the Bush Gang. And they're trying to eliminate their historical memory, too, by destroying several thousand years worth of artifacts—so that history doesn’t begin in Sumer, but in a bar in Texas. But you’re not part of that. So what are you doing to stop it?”

I’m trying to raise people’s awareness.

“Great. And the crab? What did you do about it?”

Nothing, Rave. What could I do? I turned off the light and went back upstairs.

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