I mean to tell you about the artist whose paintings, according to some, have a brittle, airy alloverness. How insistent they were, melancholy like the memories of a landscape.
I am thinking about the way that every human eye has a blind spot. How the blind spot, instead of appearing as a black dot in the vision field, is conveniently filled by a process of extrapolation, based on visual information at the border regions.
Taking a break from the paintings, I notice someone at the fountain, playing guitar. I would like to tell you about the poetic arc of the neck, leaning over the instrument, the taut curve of intention.
But I am distracted by thoughts of cephalopods. I have recently read about Otto, the six-month-old octopus at the Sea-Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, who was caught juggling hermit crabs. Otto was known to rearrange the contents of his tank to, as the aquarium director put it, “make it suit his own taste better.” Otto made international news for short circuiting the aquarium’s electrical system several nights in a row. It turns out he had learned to turn out the light above his tank by squirting water at it. It seems he did not care for the light.
Octopus have eyes like ours, but no blind spot.
Each arm has a mind of its own, unobstructed by central control. And now I cannot stop thinking about this looming intelligence of the sea, how when we’re not reminding ourselves to fear its presence, we are replacing it with a cartoon caricature.
I want to talk about the art of this cephalopod, the poetry of its symphony of intelligent parts in motion. But between this blind spot and the limits of my language, I cannot take it in.
Otto’s story is available here (to Telegraph subscribers). I found it in James Bridle’s Ways of Being––Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence.