It’s inspir­a­tion month here at Unruley Articles, so I thought I’d talk about octo­podes. As you may have noticed, the image-based side of UnArt has a lik­ing for mar­ine creatures, espe­cially ceph­alo­pods and their friends. Why? Well, because they’re cool and strange and beau­ti­ful — but it took me a while to notice that. I can trace the point that my interest in octo­podes switched into high gear: it star­ted with a dream.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of a fairer and more equal soci­ety. Abba had a dream about “cross­ing the stream” or some such. I had a dream about an octopus.

And it was actu­ally quite a dis­turb­ing dream; ima­gine it as dir­ec­ted by Akira Kurosawa, but writ­ten by David Lynch (maybe based on a story by the artist Hokusai). It was kind of a who­dun­nit set in a not par­tic­u­larly pros­per­ous Japanese fish­ing vil­lage, and con­cerned a wealthy wid­ow, and her pet octopus. I’m not going to relate the dream: it was too inco­her­ent for me to recall much of it now, any­way. But it did inspire me to do some research on octo­podes.

Girl with Octopus

Just shar­ing a snack…

Here are some of the things I dis­covered:
• They don’t have tentacles! Those wig­gly things are tech­nic­ally just ‘arms’.
• They have three hearts — that’s one more that a Timelord does.
• They’re the only invert­ibrate proven to use tools.
• They can change col­our, shape and tex­ture.
• They repro­duce via a ‘spe­cial­ist arm’: usu­ally the third on on the right.
• The Hawaiian cre­ation myth pos­its that the octopus is the lone sur­viv­or of the pre­vi­ous, ali­en uni­verse that pre­ceded the cre­ation of this one.
• There are 3 argu­ably cor­rect plur­als of octopus — “octopuses” (pop­u­lar and logic­al), “octopi” (hyper-cor­rec­tion), and “octo­podes” (rare and pedant­ic).

Amazing and fas­cin­at­ing, isn’t it? That we have some­thing so weird, so ali­en, swim­ming in our oceans is just too cool for words.

So I’ve been draw­ing octo­podes and their kin ever since.

Blue Ringed Octopus

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