i have returned, intact, from Mexico, and i regret that i have little (new) to say as regards the urchin question. on my first day in Sayulita, adam and i scrambled along a rocky outcropping on the Playa de los Muertes (a beach less beset by tourists, that one has to pass through a graveyard to access. big ups to the Mexicans on, among other things, their affinity for turquoise as a mausoleum colour) to search for urchins nestling just below the waterline. in spite of adam’s preparations (he brought along a mesh bag, work gloves, and a pair of pruning shears, in testament to the earnestness of his stated aim to “depopulate the pacific ocean of all its denizens” while in Mexico), the sea saw what we were up to and angrily repelled us with crashing waves. we only succeeded in laying hands on one urchin this first attempt, but the next day were more successful and came out of it with just under dozen of the creatures.
and what of my crisis of sympathy? how did i feel coming “face to face” with the appeal of the faceless? unfortunately i can’t rightly say because i never actually killed one of the things myself. not, however, as far as i can tell, because it was too much, but strangely, because i just plain forgot. adam, being generally more prepared, was handling that end of things, and while i looked on and gave bits of advice, it somehow never occurred to me that this was something that i should try doing myself; that i in a sense had a duty to do so, as much to myself as to you lot – the reading public. i had, literally, other fish to fry (and some to bbq).
now i cannot but ask myself whether this was an oversight born of carelessness, or the deepest form of cowardice, that which steals its way into the unconsciousness and erects a screen of obliviousness. “it just slipped my mind.” i was happy to consume the fruits of someone else’s labours, and indeed the fruits of the urchins’ existence (the gonads, euphemistically “coral,” or inaccurately “roe” that makes up the edible portion of the urchin, which in this case was scant, if google image search is any indication of what quantities to expect), and to still more shamefully ruin the lot of it by failing in an attempt to incorporate it into a creamy sauce that ultimately totally eclipsed the taste of the urchin, but did i learn anything from the experience?
it seems not. i too marvelled at the alien-seeming complexity of “Aristotle’s Lantern,” but there was not the same “scent of newness” that so captured Barbellion’s interest. no less exciting, though, it remained as i had anticipated, ancient and perplexing, but also with the feeling that in cracking through that shell, breaking the carapace, one entered a world somehow untouched by the orders and organization of the surface world. Lovecraft again; Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes; that sort of thing. and so i brush aside the queerly grasping motile spines, the nascent ethical impingement, fixate upon an anatomical oddity in isolation. disembodied. aesthetic. a structure. an animal made by human hands into an artifact. there is a fearsome banality to it all.
my roommate suggests i am inhuman to not mind coming back to the cold.
(but, coming soon: Mexican chips!)