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Squid #472
(published February 4, 2010)
Ask the Giant Squid: Raise High Your Roofbeams, as You Would Lift Your Hats in Respect
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Oh my god. He died.

Do you think we should hold our breath for posthumous publishings?


Dear Brittany,

Allow me the courtesy of speaking on this day, for your world, the chimp world. I draw now exclusively on the kind consultation with my up-space editorial team.

As children, when driving by cemeteries, you chimps would hold your breath until you had passed the last grave. It is a very old belief where spirit is tied up with wind and breath. One might be accosted by a ghost or a demon if one breathed near them, thus inhaling them. Ah, the myth of the airy up-space, she is foreign and exotic to my mind.

Foul odor was tied to this belief. Hence, the Garlic as a guard against vampires. The Romans believed that mares were impregnated by the zephyr of the western wind, and when in heat they would turn their hind quarters to catch the fertile breeze. Romans also believed that beans contained the souls of the dead, and that flatulence was caused by bad spirits. A variation of the belief was preserved in the Roman Feast of the Lemures (Bad Ghosts) where the restless ghosts were driven out by throwing black beans at them. This was a May festival, and seemed to coincide with the airing out of a house in springtime, thus tying together 'spirits' and 'air'.

Spirit itself comes from 'spiritus', which was the common Latin gloss for the greek 'pneuma' which in both cases generally meant 'air' or 'breath' or 'wind'. For Wycliffe and other early English translators of the Bible, this was always seen in the context of the spirit of God, the divine breath.

'Posthumous' is also tied into this, being 'post' or after the 'humous' from the latin 'humare' which means to bury; specifically 'humare' coming from 'humus' which means 'mould', which is the richest, densest most fecund soil; often associated with rich smells and growth.

As Wycliffe translated Gensis II.7:

"Therfor the Lord God formede man of the sliym of erthe, and brethide in to his face the brething of lijf; and man was maad in to a lyuynge soule."

So, we may see man's life itself as posthumous, after the earth, and the breath of life is in man's face.

Is it fair to say that a thing here has ended? Is it fair to say that you should hold on to your divine breath?

I dare include myself in this statement (though it be slightly etymologically askew): We are all of us posthumous, and all of us held in the breath of God.

I of course feel this in the fluid of the waters as they pass in and out of my gills, but you, in the fluid of the gaseous air, have a fainter inkling of it. Are we not all suspended in the breath, whether dense or thin, which clouds about the whole of this little world? Are we not all dense clusters of the mould, interlaced with the breath, our lives both post- and pre-humation?

And finally to the publishings. To write, in as basic a way as I can say, is to turn the tools of the finite world toward the task of connecting with the infinite. The letters on the page themselves are manifestations of contrast, white against black, and yet they take on a grand wholeness as they proceed, such that as we read each sound our minds form them into whole words, and then into, as they say, baskets of meaning. The words to sentences cleave, as man to woman, and the sentences into paragraphs, the paragraphs into chapters, the chapters to books, the books to libraries, and finally the libraries into each accepting mind and heart, until slowly rises

like a miasma over fertile ground

an image of the material world, and inside of it the "lyuynge soule".

We are all destined to unmould ourselves, and for our breath to recede into the deepening night. It is there that the truth will be found. If we see that any finite man has left behind notes or writings which participate in that truth, it will only be as a licking of the lips to the great intake of breath which follows it.

And it is that great drawing in of the mighty wind beyond the face of night, a breathing which is not just post but beyond, outside of, to the left of, the humus, the soil, the matter.

It matters little, in the end, how we disposes of these little breaths, or how we place our little frame of clumped soil. We merely pass the days at a way station.

I remain,
Editor of this Esteemed Journal,
Your Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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