Friday, 14 November 2008
Whale Nation by Heathcote Williams. Maybe re-reading for the 10th time would be more accurate. For those of you who have never read it, I would humbly recommend obtaining a copy. My dusty well thumbed version has travelled almost everywhere I have. Obviously not at my feet in the black knife, but I did once photocopy the pages, staple them together with a rivet gun & leave them in a seaward bothy. The pages remained intact & thumbed for a good few years, although they gradually diminished, taking on a creeping role as fire tinder for wet wood. The book itself is beautifully illustrated with wild gardens of photography, Heathcote brings us toward a steady accumulation of grandeur & dreadfulness. Whale Nation is a symphony of written word that cannot, or at least should not, be ignored.

Whale Nation is a hymn to the beauty, intelligence and majesty of the largest mammal on earth. A ‘green classic’ read with natural resonance by its author, it rarely fails to strike a chord in the hearts of those concerned with the abuse of our planet.

To that, I would add the words, epic, beautiful, replete & intelligent, sometimes...deeply angering & upsetting but often inspirational beyond the sublime - from his opening words to his final closure:

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Without killing their own kind.

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Though they allow the resources they use to renew themselves.

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Though they use language to communicate, rather than to eliminate rivals.

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Though they do not broodily guard their patch with bristling security.

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Without trading innocence for the pretension of possessions.

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Without allowing their population to reach plague proportions.

In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
An extra-terrestrial, who has already landed . . .
A marine intelligentsia, with a knowledge of the deep.

From space, the planet is blue.
From space, the planet is the territory
Not of humans, but of the whale.



 
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 18:48:00 |


2 Retorts:


At 27 November 2008 at 16:25, Blogger TonyP

"In the water, whales have become the dominant species,
Without killing their own kind."

Interesting but not actually true. Orcas will kill most other species of whale especially youngsters. The main threat to migrating Grey Whales in the Pacific is the gangs of black and white bullies. who sadistically pick off the calves with glee. Perhaps he was refering to the baleen whales?Tony

 

At 28 November 2008 at 02:41, Blogger •≈ Sgian Dubh

I wholly concur Tony, but still, that wee indiscretion doesn't detract from the message sent out by the book itself, which is powerful & mesmerizing. I have also witnessed at first hand, Orcas veraciously defending the crèche or nursery & heard of gangs of Orcas roaming the seas looking for a fight. I do feel that the green quarter over romanticize the whale & dolphin/porpoise nature to some degree.

They are still magnificent as a species type & the picture as to their reasoning may be one of such proportions that we have not seen it's full meaning & implication as yet?

Nothing ever quite prepares you for the moment when a peaceful leviathan [with or without teeth] surfaces immediately to the port side of your kayak & looks you briefly, in the eye, & then dives. I'm totally convinced that it's a very conscious decision & almost born out of mischievousness & curiosity. :o)