Recently I was in the aquarium of the Berlin zoo, and that went quite a bit
Very good while, and then something strange happened to me. First, I drifted in
Stream the rest of the visitors like a jellyfish from pool to pool, surveying it
Benevolent, the various fish swimming about in front of me. Some looked like
small, brightly colored racing cars, others, silvery ones, only seemed to be in the swarm
to become something like yourself. I liked the shark tank the most, it gave me one
made a particularly precise impression, there was apparently nothing superfluous about these animals,
form meets function,
perfect, contemporary design.
But in addition to the big, blue shark tank, a greenish-muddy, moderate light was streaming out of a basin no less large. In a cloudy broth that was supposed to simulate the waters of the Amazon, giant, blackish-brown fish drifted like rotting stumps. Arapaimas, I read, they were called and were among the largest freshwater fish in the world, two meters and longer they will. The creatures looked like metals, cast-iron, their bodies snaky, their scales rough, and irrational, bark-like grain. The Arapaimas had a beak-shaped mouth and opaque eyes, as if covered with a thick mold-fur.
While everything seemed to me to be understandable and beautiful on the sharks, it was clearly understandable when I saw the Arapaimas that I had the unpleasant feeling of being confronted with adventures of chance, archaic creatures whose form, meaning and existence seemed inaccessible to me in every respect. The fact that the things were called Arapaima, fish from South America did not help me at all.
Maybe you know such conditions. The language, the concepts no longer cover the world sufficiently. Sometimes that happens when one repeats one word long enough: "glass, glass, glass", eventually it loses its meaning, and even the sign becomes very strange. In Robert Musil's novel
The man without qualities
There is a fantastic place about ideas and concepts (eg "Arapaima" or "fish") and their actual function of making the world somehow habitable and bearable. "With great and varied art", writes Musil"We create a delusion that enables us to live beside the most outrageous things and to remain completely calm, because we see these frozen grimaces of the universe as a table or a chair, a scream or an outstretched arm, one Recognize speed or a fried chicken. "
Frozen grimaces of the universe, that meets the impression that the Arapaimas made on me, very carefully. The animals were scary to me, they scared me, maybe because they had the idea that even me, strange creature man, was supposed to be a kind of frozen-out grimace.
With these half-feeling half-thoughts, I went around the last few days so a bit depressed. Then yesterday I read about the famous American writer J. D. Salinger, whose estate is now apparently supposed to appear. A small text from now published contains, in my translation, the following passage: "And through the window on the bed he saw that snow was falling, slowly but lusciously through the gray, through the sunshine of a late December afternoon, and it was sudden Bliss, pure bliss, to be alive and to look and fall asleep, to approach sleep, bliss. "
Basically, I think, Salinger describes exactly the same phenomenon as what I felt at the sight of the Arapaimas, only under different circumstances. There lies one in bed and sees something not really that special, the snow. But suddenly he sees it as new, or just as if he has no concept for it, and feels the enormity, the greatness of the whole, of his existence in it, but not as a grimace, but as a radiance, as bliss.
It's very strange, life! All the beauty and all the horror.