• Asa Simon Mittman deposited Sea Monsters, edited by Thea Tomaini and Asa Simon Mittman on Humanities Commons 1 month, 1 week ago

    BEACHES GIVE AND TAKE, bringing unexpected surprises to society, and pulling essentials away from it. The ocean offers monsters— whales and whirlpools—but when a massive creature is pushed into human proximity by the ocean’s wide shoulders, the waves deposit and erode human assumptions about itself and its environment: words, sounds, breath, water, wind, flesh, blood, and bones wash in and out. Chance encounters reveal us to ourselves anew; we recognize an Otherness and thereby gain an ethical understanding of difference. Learning to read the monster’s environmental signs helps humans determine the scope of the monster’s place in the eco/cosmic timeline and defeat it—until the epic cycle inevitably repeats. We confront our tiny time between catastrophes; monsters live and live and live. Even so, when humans identify and face monsters, we do so at the risk of exposing our own monstrosity. When we look into the inky backs of whales, or deep into vortices, what do we see?

    This volume of essays emerges from MEARCSTAPA’s panel, “The Nature of the Beast/Beasts of Nature: Monstrous Environments,” at the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, held at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the Pacific Ocean lays her face against the sand and waits.