Chapter 58: Brit

Having grown up an hour’s drive from the Pacific, I spent a good deal of time staring at the ocean in my young life. When old enough to drive, I would spend days at the coast in an unpopulated cove I found and frequented, sitting on fallen trees, watching the waves, and writing. I like looking at the ocean because of its size, and because of its power, but also because the ocean is an absolute boundary. I can skim the ocean by boat, or momentarily glimpse its shallowest depths with the appropriate gear, but ultimately, the ocean draws a line I can never cross. And I like knowing that there’s something in the world that’s not for me.

In “Brit,” Ishmael explores the ocean as an analogy for the soul. He speaks of the ocean as an “everlasting terra incognito,” a world we can never fully see, though we live at its shores, or even if we endeavor outward, glancing across its skin. He also speaks of the ocean’s alien inhabitants, fully unlike that which we experience on land. But mostly, Ishmael sees the ocean as raw, primal power, waiting to “insult and murder” the man who thinks his intellect has comprehended its force.

Like the world’s vast expanse of land, one cannot grasp one’s own consciousness in its entirety. And like the ocean, we are deeper than our conscious lives. But are “all the horrors of the half-known life” really horrible, or just unknown? Or does the horror lie in not knowing? One thing is certain: we are largely aliens to our own selves, and aliens we will remain. On the bright side, we can always sit on the beach of our “one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy,” staring at the sea, and thinking.

Chapter 58: Brit

The ocean’s deeper than us,
No man protected from washing away.
Oh, scratch the surface but once
With a bold keel, and you will be changed.

And we all fall down,
All fall down,
In the two-toned world we create.
Yeah we all fall down,
Strangers in lonesome parade.

We look from surface to sky,
A truncated wave to rise and abate.
Count yet magnificent worlds,
A negative voltage constantly craved.

And we all fall down,
All fall down,
In the two-toned world we create.
Yeah we all fall down,
Strangers in lonesome parade.

Yeah we all fall down,
Strangers in lonesome parade!

(c) and (p) 2008 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea September 6, 2008
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea July 16, 2009

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