The Universe of Discourse
Fri, 27 Jan 2006

The octopus and the creation of the cosmos
In an earlier post, I mentioned the lucky finds you sometimes make when you're wandering at random in a library. Here's another such. In 2001 I was in Boston with my wife, who was attending the United States Figure Skating Championships. Instead of attending the Junior Dance Compulsories, I went to the Boston Public Library, where I serendipitously unearthed the following treasure:

Although we have the source of all things from chaos, it is a chaos which is simply the wreck and ruin of an earlier world....The drama of creation, according to The Hawaiian account, is divided into a series of stages, and in the very first of these life springs from the shadowy abyss and dark night...At first the lowly zoophytes and corals come into being, and these are followed by worms and shellfish, each type being declared to conquer and destroy its predecessor, a struggle for existence in which the strongest survive....As type follows type, the accumulating slime of their decay raises land above the waters, in which, as spectator of all, swims the octopus, the lone survivor of an earlier world.

(Mythology of All Races, vol. ix ("Oceanic"), R.B. Dixon. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can now read the complete text online.)

Everyone, it seems, recognizes the octopus as a weird alien, unique in our universe.

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