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.
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.
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