The Sea Exists

The sea. The sea. The sea exists. The sea exists symbolically.

As symbol the sea exists to stand for what’s radically unknown and unknowably radical. The sea exists as wide and deep expanse to plunge into for forever, to never return from, or to return from as turned up, transformed, limp and salt sparkling, shore thing washed ashore for mourning. The sea exists as non-place, as space, as glimmering surface face to slide over incased in a craft skimming along on this surface only lonely for the next place.

We sing to change what’s seen of the sea.

Photo by Tim Marshall

Photo by Tim Marshall

The light. The light exists. The light exists as rays falling from the sun. The light exists to scatter. The light exists to fall into the sea, and the light exists for the seas murk to soak up, and the light exists for the seas murk to soak up and transubstantiate the light’s waves into its own green black folds so we can eat. The life stew living murk that we consume consumes in turn the light, and transforms the light gold into green, and the green into blue-black. We in the sea eat the seas murk or eat the others who eat the seas murk. So, we in the sea see that in a way we in the sea eat the suns waves, in a way.

We in the sea see the sea existing from below. We see the seas surface as a storm flapping tent cloth. We see the sea ceiling as it glows with bioluminescence when wave churn.

Dark seeing exists. Dark seas exist. Dark seas exist to change the world.

What exists in the sea more than light is sound. Sound in the sea more than exists. The sea exists as resonant substance. The sea exists as limitless bandwidth.

Half walls of coral, rough beds of sand, high ceilings of ice together form our orchestral shell. Our calls bounce, reverberate, and break into fractals in the heavy water. These surfaces return our chirps and sighs for as long as we wish to play.

All seas are united by deep channels and these deep channels make our free form radio. The sea is a vessel, and a vessel is a media, and media is clear gel for growing culture. The sea exists, so vessels exist, so culture exists, so media exists and we are media makers. We sing that the world exists circularly in song.

Breath control is our existence, our art, our craft. Our breath range runs from cataclysmic burst to cellular pulse. We compress under pressure and trade freely in microtones. We are media makers who sing.

We sing and hear somewhere, and somewhere others hear and sing somewhere. For example, what is sung in the Atlantic gyre is heard in the Barents Sea, and for example what is sung in the Barents Sea is heard in the North Pacific, and for example, what is sung in the North Pacific is heard in the Bay of Bengal, and for example, what is sung in the Bay of Bengal is heard in the Atlantic gyre, and for example it goes like that.

So you see, we are the singing sea herds hearing singing.

We hear and sing of salt waves dissolving stone into sand, and we sing and hear of the sloshes of the sea as it waves up to you who live over the lip of the sea world. We sing we hear you making noises, making deafening exploding noises, and clatters as you lay down trans-oceanic cables for communication. We wonder why you don’t sing more softly.

Sea sounds travel four times faster than those in air. This is fact. Traveling speeds exist and are exceeded. Sounds traveling thousands of nautical miles in wavering vibrato travel without your baggage. Sometimes we’re not even trying.

Some world songs that exist have been circling since the first animals lifted the world onto their symbolic shoulders.

We hear your hearing is not so strong as ours. We hear you lack our fat smoothed internal resonators. Your dry selves are punctured with holes you only kind of control. How do you breathe, we wonder?

Breath fat sympathy exists. The sympathetic system exists. We feel for you and your poor ears, and poor resonators, and poor hearing. We feel for your poor wholeness. We wonder what it feels like not to feel as we do, sounds. We are sorry for your poverty. This is the way their bodies were made, we sing sympathetically.

So, here for your benefit we have come together to sing in your language. In a language you can understand so you don’t mistake. We sing for you to listen because your hearing does not seem so good. We sing first to say listening does not exist, it is practiced. So, practice please.

We want to keep singing of the sea, of its beauty, of the way the light falls through the sea, and the sounds circle. We could go on singing of all that for forever. But we must sing of something else. We must sing of oil thick death.

This phase. This phase exists. This phase exists and exists to tear everything apart. A part of everything is dying up and down the sea web. Surely you have seen.

Swimming on and on we sing. We sing we have to start somewhere with you this time. So, without fixed place, we are starting somewhere. Outright, and simple as we can sing with the current.

We sing this because we cannot say so long and thanks for all the fish, because there is nowhere to go but on.

First, let us sing a miniature full of small lives to generate some sympathy. For example, marine grasses have roots and leaves, and for example marine grasses produce flowers and seeds, and for example these are flowering plants, just like the roses and daisies in your gardens. And for example, our plants are anchored by root systems, and the root systems of the marine marsh grasses buffer the dry lands against hurricanes.

Or for example, coral. Coral we sing, exists obviously in great rings around your islands, and for example, we live amongst and in the coral, because coral exists as plant and animal co-structure. So, for example dead coral, bleached coral, is like a vacant housing complex. When there is too much noise and stress and poison these spaces become unlivable and we are rendered homeless and we have nowhere to go. We sing this because we cannot say so long and thanks for all the fish, because there is nowhere to go but on.

All this stress exists, and all this oil exists, and oil is filled with hydrocarbons and heavy metals, and hydrocarbons and heavy metals in oil are catastrophically carcinogenic. Oil disrupts small vital plants, small vital animals. Oil exists for a longer time that we can sing. Oil is refined and spilled everywhere. Oil coats sargassum which exists, for example.

And how does this song resonate, well for example sargassum washes ashore and animals who take refuge in sargassum that exists die from ingesting the residue that clings.

And another example is plastic. And as we all know plastic exists and keeps existing and circling endlessly, like song but toxic. It mixes with the murk and we eat it, and we can’t see it. It also mimics what we can see and we eat it.

Bottle caps, drinking straws, little red, orange bits look like food but nourish no one. Plastic seems to exist forever and all its particulated weight is breaking us. Plastic now makes up ten percent of the weight of dead seabirds, for example. Break us open and we’re all full. Our numbered losses exist and grow. Canals and dam, lagoons and reservoirs, open seas and icy shelves have become spaces for death’s resonance. Our bodies wash ashore and you see them. We see you see them rotting and desecrated.

Death grows in symmetrically spiral sequence.

Deaths spiral adds to the record a seal, adds to record two dolphins. It adds three right whales, and five Humpbacks, and eight pilots, and thirteen dolphins.

Deaths spiral adds twenty whales and one dolphin, which equals twenty-one. And it adds thirty turtles and four whales, which equals thirty-four.

And it does not stop but turns and adds to the ever-growing record Forty-one humpbacks, and nine turtles, and five sperm whales, which equals fifty-five.

And even then, the numbers grow with eighty-six turtles, and three dolphins, which equals eighty-nine. And in another wave are added one hundred and six turtles and thirty-eight dolphins, which equals one-hundred-forty-four.

And then there are one hundred sixty-seven dolphins, and thirty turtles, and twenty-three whales, and nine turtles and four whales, which equals two hundred thirty-three.

And then there are three hundred and fifty whales, and twenty-seven pilot whales, which equals three hundred-seventy-seven.

And there are then three hundred turtles, and two hundred forty-three seals, and fifty-six whales and dolphins, and nine turtles which equals six-hundred and ten.

And we cannot stop even there, for there are four hundred turtles, and one hundred dolphins, and one hundred eels, and one hundred gannets, and one hundred turtles, and eighty-one false killer whales, and forty turtles, and forty sea lions, and twelve dolphins, and twelve turtles and two whales, which you will find equals nine hundred and eighty-seven.


Photo by Segei Akulich

You see how deaths counting goes quickly into the uncountable. There are tons, masses, tens of thousands, millions of dead and this is fact, and who has seen this many dead before? And this is just from the last year you see.

Hurricanes exist, floods exist, plagues and cancers exist and have existed, this is true. But what we sing now is how life destroying greed poison has come to exist above all else. This is not natural.

Your island is a boat, our boat is the sea and both are pierced by this wild greed. Its poisonous fluid flows and coats everything.

We sing to appeal not to those who trade in this reckless and soulless death. We sing we think they have plugged their poor ears. They may be beyond reaching but they are few. So, rather we direct our song to you. We appeal to you.

We sing because we see that we have all tried to get accustomed to our climates as they’ve changed above us. We’ve all tried trying to get accustomed to swimming and drinking tainted waters. We’ve all tried to cope with the smog, and plastic, and lead dust, and endless noise. We see you’ve struggled to become accustomed to jobs you despise and tried to convince yourselves even that you do not hate those who create hateful conditions. We sing to you.

We sing the wet crisis from the soaking edge of the world. We sing, we see the sea, and see we are all animals who see the sea. We sing, we see you are animals scared of seeing sea rise, but also scared of change. We sing, we see you trying. We too are trying in language. We see when we sing we are all trying in some second language. We are almost always forgetting you have forgot the first lingo of fluid hum.

We sing to say, hey stranger to yourself, remember language is no shell game. It is communal music which makes possible saying, we see the sea rising and we are terrified.

We see you are terrified. We see sides parched and saturated. We sing we see you trying to speak the deep question that is, how do we together swim beyond city sized structures of denial?

We see you in your cities, and we see your seaside cites as reflections of mind. It is like a line in the sacred song of the Danshinamurti, which says the whole universe is like a city reflected in a mirror. Our shelled selves choose to see the vastness of the universe as only a flattened replication. The small self makes small a wholeness that’s infinite and changing. The small self clings to the silvered image because to face the whole from within the shell of small self terrifies.

We think this reaction comes from a fear of becoming similar. Not similar to anything in particular, but similar to the whole wholeness. The small shelled self fears becoming part of the universal wave. The small self feels the pain of change and pain fills the senses. We know the feeling feeding this fear is a fear of becoming nothing more than part of the clouds or the mist. It is a fear of only being a droplet tossed up for an instant, then absorbed back into the universal wave.

But regardless of the fear, the fact exists that no matter what we are all just droplets flying free before rejoining the undifferentiated churn.

But maybe, for example this fear is the reason why so many turn away from mutual seeing, singing, and listening. Maybe.

We can only sing possibilities.

We can only sing the hope that fears, no matter how hard, might become soluble if exposed to salt, and sea, and air. We can only sing of salt waves dissolving stone into sand.

We can only sing of salt waves dissolving stone into sand.

What if we don’t try to escape the fear, but just allow ourselves to open to dissolving. Maybe our small shelled selves are stone that can turn. Maybe our small shelled selves are not stone but already sand, already spun shards as dissolvable as sugar candy fluff in a raccoon’s hands as it worries the water wondering, where it has gone? Where has it gone this shelled self? We sing, what if our whole selves can be the raccoon and the candy fluff, and the fear, and the stone, sand, water?

See it’s funny, but, tragic funny, or maybe so tragic we must laugh. We’re not laughing about this, we’re laughing hysterically.

We sing and we hear you say, we hear you and we get it.  But our others are skeptical, or hostile downright. They, not we, you say to our singing need arguments and hard facts, shards that don’t dissolve into feeling droplets.

We sing, we see. So, for your benefit we will make arguments once again for you to sing share with others. Here is an argument song for seeing what we all already know afresh. These are facts that we have all already been singing.

We all have fish feelings, or let’s just call them feelings, and we all have memories stored in our fats alongside poisons.

We in the sea all smell and taste one another’s shit to see if we are healthy, and we’re not healthy, and if we’re not you’re are not either.

We have cancers. We have cancers, and sadness, and stress past all reckoning. We have fins which are old legs. You have legs which are former fins. You with your legs have charity runs for brain and breast, lung and heart cancer. And when you run for charities you drink water out of little disposable bottles of plastic and the water in those bottles is full of plastics and metals which give you cancer.

Micro plastic is micro plastic stored in fat or water. Coral bleaching is bleaching which kills the whole reef. And when the reefs die your shores are unprotected, and when wetland grasses are gone storms can go everywhere.

And these storms that exist and have always existed are growing and multiplying with the heat of industry, and the storms don’t care if politicians won’t say the words or the causes. All this greedy grasping is a form of desperate gasping. Catastrophic warming and poison pumping and endlessly circling is happening whether or not anyone sings the words or causes. But still so many of us are saying and singing. Lead, mercury, and oil is in your water, or our water, or what it is, just water. The seas are rising and turning and churning with plastics, and your babies will grow up to fight to drink poisonous water because water is just water and we need it to live.

We sing, this song is not kind just true. We turn and weep salt flecked with plastic.

We sing why is what we already know not enough? We sing, what is the goal? What is the goal but life?

We sing because the system will not just naturally change so we must sing to change it. We must sing what we know, even when we don’t know the words, because the song is vital.

We sing if we want to live we need to assemble to disassemble this structure. We must sing because knowing in silence is not the same as singing. We sing that we must all sing even when singing means risking not living longer. Because how are we to assemble to disassemble in silence? We can’t.

We sing for you to sing bubbles and arguments with us. Sing that whatever you’ve supported before is more than you can support. Sing the question, because what is the risk we’re not already taking?

If you see something, sing something. And if you sing something, sing it like you mean it. Mean it.

Sing to see the sea in yourself. Form bands to survive. We must change our lives to live. And if there was ever a time, for this, this is it.

Sing this is it.

Joni Murphy is a writer from New Mexico who lives in New York. Her writing has appeared in Brick, The Capilano Review, Canadian Art, Canadian Xtasy: A Rhythm Party Reader, and elsewhere. She has presented sound and performance work through ACRE Projects, Resonance FM, and Sound Development City. Her novel, Double Teenage, published by BookThug, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2016.