“The Sea Inside”
By Philip Hoare, 2013
Fourth Estate, 2014
“The sea gives us life, the air we breathe and the food we eat. But, caught up in our lives, we barely notice it,” is written on the back cover of my new book that I’m happy to add to my growing Sea Library. It’s author, Philip Hoare, sets out to rediscover the sea. “He travels from England to the Azores, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. “Navigating human and natural history, he encounters scientists, tattooed warriors, whales and creatures we thought were extinct. Part memoir, part fantastical travelogue, The Sea Inside is a wondrous voyage of discovery,” I read on the back cover and can’t wait to read it all.
“A grand cabinet of natural curiosities.”
Jan Morris, Sunday Telegraph
“A collage of memoir, cultural history and travelogue in which the author makes pilgrimage to ever more distant seas to swim with whales and dolphins.”
Caspar Henderson, Guardian
“An unusual work, in which thoughts on our aquatic origins blend with lyrical rhapsodies to the ocean and the whale’s domain .. In pages of fine-spun prose, Hoare explores the primordial connections between our mortal lives and the sea.”
Ian Thompson, Evening Standard
Philip Hoare lives and works in Southampton. He is Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Marine Institute, Plymouth University, and Associate Professor at the University of Southampton. He is author of many books, including Leviathan or, The Whale.
He is a co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read. In the spring of 2011, artist Angela Cockayne and writer Philip Hoare convened and curated a unique whale symposium and exhibition at Peninsula Arts, the dedicated contemporary art space at Plymouth University. Inspired by their mutual obsession with Moby-Dick and with the overarching subject of the whale, they invited artists, writers, musicians, scientists and academics to respond to the theme.
“The result was an enthusiastic response which evidently could not be contained within the physical restrictions of a gallery space and a three-day symposium. Out of Dominion was born its bastard child – or perhaps its immaculate conception – the Moby-Dick Big Read: an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible,” can be read on the website www.mobydickbigread.com.
Here is a quote from the first chapter The Suburban Sea:
“The sea sustains and threatens us, but it is also where we came from. Some consider the relationship is closer than we think. Callum Roberts, among other scientists, has noted that the ratio of subcutaneous fat in humans is ten times that of other primates, neared to that of a fin whale. From an evolutionary point of view, such human blubber would make little sense for a land hunter, but it would be eminently useful for an “aquatic ape” which developed by the sea. Equally, we cannot fly or even tun as fast as other animals, and we lack hair to keep our bodies warm, but we can swim and dive – skills which would not make sense, some say, unless we were made for or at least shaped by water. …
Even our organs contain a memory of the sea. Our kidneys developed to deal with excess salt, to which our evolutionary ancestors were subject; being fifty percent water, we all contain sea inside us.”
Philip Hoare, The Sea Inside, 2013