Monday, May 07, 2007

Captain Jack's Existential Nightmare

This is our fish, Captain Jack. He's had a surprisingly long lifespan, considering that some of the goldfish our boys won at the school carnival, despite my desperate attempts to keep them alive, did not last more than a couple of days. Captain Jack's going on two years in the bowl, and the other day, perhaps because we were discussing Waiting for Godot, I suddenly wondered how anything could be more of an existential misery than a fishbowl.

First of all, there's the circular nature of the environment; does he ever wish he could dart down a side alley, I wonder, or swim straight rather than in that eternal round? Can fish become insane?

Second, there's the little castle and shrubbery. We put it in there so that he wouldn't be bored, but he has to be sick of that view by now! When I tire of a room in my house, I paint it. What can Jack do? Swim away? No, poor thing. Just keep going in circles.

Third, there's the hope of freedom, which I suppose he gets every time I scoop him out to clean his world. He sits in the little waiting bin, perhaps wondering if this time he'll be dumped into the ocean, or a bigger tank, or something else, anything else, and then Bloosh! He's back in the bowl--same castle, same rock.

Poor Captain Jack. You see what reading Beckett has done to me?


Anonymous said...

I shouldn't have read this right before bed. Now I'll be lying awake thinking about Captain Jack. Great post though. Twisted but great. I guess we all live in fish bowls of one sort or another.

Julia Buckley said...

I know, Eric--sometimes I get into these little thought puzzles and they bother me a bit too much. :)

Did it keep you awake?

Admin said...

Hmm, interesting that I just read this, because my daughter is bugging me for a fish or hamster. I have always been firm about not getting critters that have to be kept in cages, but she was wearing me down. No more. Nothing that has wings, fins or feet and needs to be in a cage. Can I refer her to your post?

Julia Buckley said...

Sure, Lill. I suppose the one advantage that C. Jack has is that nothing will eat him. He is safe from predators, as our cat has no interest in him whatsoever, even though he occasionally drinks water out of the bowl.

But as to the other thing, well, it still seems nightmarish to me.