To Sing the Song of the Sea
I’m beachcombing my beach books and this essay is more of a quote collection under one specific salty subject. Blog is a laboratory for my upcoming book “Enseaclopedia” and I enjoy the freedom to experiment here, to stick my notes here and there, sketch short meditations about the sea and gather quotes under different themes. So now and then I will publish a Sea Essay. The first essay was about the mysterious magnet that draws our eyes to the sea. While this one is dedicated to the song of the sea that I want to hear, to try to understand and sing to others.
“that child who puts the shell’s howl to his ear,
hears nothing, hears everything
that the historian cannot hear, the howls
of all the races that crossed the water…”
Derek Walcott, Another Life
“I try to hear the language of the sea in this multi-cultural, multi-spatial, multi-temporal way.”
Greg Dening, Deep Time, Deep Spaces
I remember a day, a few months before I started to write Enseaclopedia, when I had an epiphany and sent a message to both my sister and my best friend. It was almost a year since I had left my job and was at home with a baby and his older brother. I had my first free summer behind me, where I just let myself be without any digital distractions. I believed that the new road, my road, will appear sooner or later. When no one says what you have to do, you start to see clearly, what sticks and what goes away. I enjoyed books and I enjoyed Nature that was all around me. Including seaside that I started to visit more and more. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I became a journalist, but since I left I knew I have to go back to my childhood dreams and write a book. But about what? So there I was in the morning of November 30, 2015, with an epiphany which I wrote to my sis and to my best friend: “I will bring the readers in a voyage over the seas and oceans, where many fictional heroes have sailed, to the islands where Crusoe and Gulliver have been stranded, adding all the amazing myths and facts about marine and coastal flora and fauna.”
It was long before I shaped my idea in the form of Enseaclopedia, and I couldn’t even imagine back then what a mesmerizing world I will discover. I didn’t really know anything about the sea in literature apart from a few classic characters, but this idea became a magnet. Sometimes I wonder, how strange it is to be struck by an idea that is still a tiny seed of a world that has not yet appeared, but you believe in this seed so much, that you make the first step in the almost dark world and start a journey that leaves you in awe. Because as much as you discover new horizons, you discover yourself as well. That core part, that was buried in a daily drive, but now you finally lift the veil.
In February, 2016, I started Enseaclopedia, in July, 2016, I discovered my dream of a bookshop by the sea with books about the sea, and in October, 2016, created Beach Books Blog that I made public by the end of 2016 and now you all can follow my salty passion to make my dreams come true. But the destination is just a part of the journey. I enjoy the process immensely. The sea has become my lifestyle. In the most meaningful sense.
“I want to know what it says. The sea, Floy, what is it that it keeps on saying?”
CHARLES DICKENS, DOMBEY AND SON, 1848
“The sea has many voices,
many Gods and many voices.”
T.S. ELIOT, THE DRY SALVAGES
Now I know that I want to hear the sea and to sing the songs of the sea. I want to read the sea and to learn its language. “Islanders read the sea .. by hearing what they called .. “the language of the sea”,” writes Greg Dening in his paper Deep Time, Deep Spaces, “the Hawaiians and other islanders had as many words for the shapes and characters of the waves that beat against their shores. Waves, in their season and in their weather, had personal names and histories. They told stories, sang songs, made poetry through the generations how these waves had been surfed and beaten. They played with the sea at its edges.”
“I thought it might be possible to think of a sea as the sum of all the reflections it had held during its history. You’d never know the half of them, of course; but in the clashes and contradictions of image against image, you might at least catch something of the provocative power of the sea, which has meant so much, so variously, to us.”
JONATHAN RABAN, PASSAGE TO JUNEAU
“To explore from as many angles as possible
the global scale of the maritime imaginary.”
B. KLEIN, G. MACKENTHUN, SEA CHANGES: HISTORICIZING THE OCEAN
Since I’ve stopped living from one meeting to another, from appointment to appointment, for most of the day I experience time as non-linear. It has deep pockets and shallow pockets. Apart from running a few errands, I approach many parts of my life with a belief in non-linear. And I think it’s the only way how to approach the sea. Even the coastline is not a definite line, it’s more of a relationship between the sea and the land, ever-changing, never fixed. I want to be “that child who puts the shell’s howl to his ear, / hears nothing, hears everything / that the historian cannot hear”.
“Maybe the fiction is the only way I’ll get to the truth of it, looking from my submarine down into the depths, up into the imaginary tracks that are left on ocean’s surface, sea-lanes, whale’s ways, shearwater flights,” wrote Greg Dening, and I believe it’s true. I have to swim with my submarine through the text and subtext, because the language is how we encompass the world around us, how we try to understand and express it. Through the books I can see how others saw the sea, how they explained its mysteries. The sea gave me the pattern of my life, and I will sing her song to others.
“Morning and afternoon I learned the pattern of my life, of hunting and gathering and picking over flotsam in the outdoor world – fishing, diving, swimming, surfing, lighting fires, rowing boats, feeling the landscape rush in from all sides – and retiring indoors to wonder and write and read where only the breeze could reach me, in there where my dreams were.”
TIM WINTON, LAND’S EDGE: A COASTAL MEMOIR