Thursday, August 16, 2012

Halfway Through August: Shark Week

Hey, it's Shark Week, at least on the Discovery Channel, and at this link.

Jaws is the only classic shark movie.  All of the others pale in comparison.  The movie owes many things to history and to Herman Melville's Moby Dick.  It's one of those accidental masterpieces--like, say, Casablanca.  For a Zen interpretation of the movie, see this link.

I suspect that Jaws will last.  It is one of those rare movies that we can watch again and again, despite its heavily iconic saturation in our culture, with parodies and derivatives everywhere.

There are no sharks in these Kentucky woods, but this is always a good time for armchair voyages.  Sharks are usually a threat in the literary oceans.  Tim Winton's Breath comes to mind.  A few of the best sea tales of all time can be seen on the bookshelf on down below.
Gidget, the Little Mermaid, and Jaws

It's worth remembering that the cultural surfing fad began long before Jaws, with the Beach Boys and other musical groups.  Jaws was a horror movie, a wake-up call to suggest that when we deal with nature, the waters are not necessarily all that placid.  More importantly, the movie reminds us that the state tends to put the agenda of corporate interests ahead of public safety.
Soul Surfer: Life's Lessons

I like the Jaws interpretation (linked to above) of the many deeper symbols in the movie.  The Great White is the Great Blank, mindless nothingness, and the three shark hunters on the small boat represent a trinity of approaches:  fundamentalist, idealistic, and practical.  A wonderful movie, with so many iconic scenes.

Treasure Island was always a good summer beach read for kids.  So far this year we have it in abundance with the mini-series, Andrew Morton's Silver: Return to Treasure Island, as well as Sara Levine's parable search for one's true life narrative, Treasure Island!!! 

And I should mention here Robert A. Prathers' The Strange Case of Jonathan Swift and the Real Long John Silver, which I reviewed a while back.

Robinson Crusoe is another traditional summer read, and this year we have Katherine Frank's excellent Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox, and the Creation of a Myth.  The classics never die, no matter how much we learn about them.

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