July 29, 2011

The good news is: great illustrations, some memorably poetic lines, nice short text.  A lobster is a “water-moving machine,” an eel is so long that its tail is hard to remember, other strange fish move as if pulled along on a thread.  Those ideas are beautiful and, combined with the painted tableaux, suggest the silent and strange world of coral reef and dream.

The bad news is: it starts with a giant tuna that “one bad day” eats everyone Swimmy knows (in other words, his entire school), abandoning him to roam the undersea wastes like the young Roman Polanski wandering the fields of Poland after his escape from the Krakow ghetto.  This led to a half-hour discussion this evening with my four-year-old about sharks, whether they eat people, whether it’s safe to go in the water, whether human bones are strong enough not to get bitten in half by a shark, and other sick and demented shit like that that sends me scrambling for my whiskey bottle.

The other good news: Swimmy finds a new school and proposes new strategies for prevention of tuna-Holocaust: never again.

The other bad news: his strategy recapitulates terrifying aspects of group psychology.  He compels all the other little fish to identify with the aggressor and sacrifice their individual identity to the state in the form of a giant tuna-shaped bait ball.  The lesson seems to be that if you’re prey, you need only conform thoroughly to a large group whose en masse identity is that of predator–the paranoid, propagandistic, archly ideological, violent modus operandi preferred by your average fascist.

Am I over-thinking this?