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Category Archives: Natural History

The Abyssal, Revisited


Humpback anglerfish (Melanocetus johnsonii).

Any more thoughts on the questions I posed? Still curious to hear your thoughts, especially on recent sightings of the squid or octopus meme.

In the meantime, a postscript to my last post:

Kristeva gave us the Abject. Baudrillard gave us the Simulacrum. Freud gave us the Uncanny, among other unforgettable theorizations, and Kant, Burke, and company group-hacked the open-source idea of the Sublime. The Abyssal, a philosophical subspecies of the Sublime, cries out for theorization, here and now.


The Abyssal


Battle of the Titans: Giant squid (Architeuthis dux) and Sperm Whale locked in mortal combat in the vasty deep…of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Ocean Life.

When Clive Thompson ran an item on his brain-fryingly great blog, Collision Detection, about a colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) that fishermen hauled in off the coast of New Zealand—a 990-pound, 39-foot leviathan that is half as big again as the next largest specimen ever caught—one commenter wondered, “My question is: ‘Why do we find so many NOW?! I mean, [these] things existed for thousands of years, it is CENTURIES [since we began] fishing in those seas and then BAM! We start fishing them up like sardines…Isn’t it weird?'”

As Tom Wolfe would say, “But…exactly!”