24 November 2012

Many real animals are stranger than imaginary ones

Nature allows every child to play tricks with her; every fool to have judgment upon her; thousands to walk stupidly over her and see nothing; and takes her pleasure and finds her account in them all.
-- Goethe 
The wealth of the soul exists in images. I speak in images. With nothing else can I express the words from the depths. 
-- attributed to Jung

This post relates to Rereading: The Book of Imaginary Beings online at The Guardian. Short descriptions of a few imaginary creatures which Borges never knew can be found here.

In an essay published in 1971 the physician Lewis Thomas argued that a bestiary for our time would have to be a microbestiary, featuring the likes of Myxotricha paradoxa, Blepharisma and plant-animal combinations that mostly exist in the sea. Their meaning, he suggested, would be "basically the same as the meaning of a medieval bestiary. There is a tendency for living things to join up, establish linkages, live inside each other, return to earlier arrangements, get along, wherever possible."

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings was partly inspired by Thomas's claim. I looked for real animals, stranger than imaginary ones, that could help me better understand the nature of being and beings. 

See also Nature Beyond Our Wildest Imaginings.

images: the Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus, and the Rosey-lipped batfish, Ogcocephalus darwini.

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