Something Fishy

Just recently I've come across several uses in quick successon of would-be aphorisms to do with fish. It seems to be considered common knowledge that fish don't have a word for water, and that you couldn't ask a fish what water tastes like, and so forth. Well, you could argue, as this poem does, that it's perhaps likely that fish (supposing they have language) wouldn't have exactly one word for water. But on the face of it, the claims are nonsense. We have a word for air. And I can ask you what air smells like.

Generally, the folks using these sayings are making some point about people not being able to articulate thoughts, or even have thoughts, about their setting, about the context within which their lives are lead. Often with satirical intent. And ther's something to the idea that folks don't notice their surroundings much. But then maybe that depends on where you were educated, to some extent.

You've probably seen this picture, generally known in the West as The Great Wave. Folks writing about fractals and the scale-free geometry of natural shapes (something also found in other, perhaps surprising, places) often like to refer to The Great Wave and other prints by Hokusai, or to things that resemble it. But the subject (in the Western sense) of that print is not the wave. The Great Wave is one of a series called 36 Views of Mt Fuji. The funny thing is that in The Great Wave, as in quite a few of the other 46 [sic] prints, Fuji-san is hardly visible. It's there, but way off in the distance, a blip in the horizon.

What significance has this? Maybe a lot, if you hyave anyhting to do with collaborating across Eastern and Western cultures, and if this the conclusions in this book hold up.

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