I don’t know when this whole thing started.
Actually, never mind that. I do. One night as a college senior, I got really high before dinner. In the dining hall, I made a squid on my plate out of taco fixings and carrot stick. My friends, for what it’s worth, were not high but they loved it. They called it Squid Captain. And after that, Squid Captain kept appearing on my plate. Spaghetti, eggs, delicious.
A few years later, biking to my crappy construction job in West Oakland, I fell off my bike and had to spend the day in the hospital. It rained all day and I was really into mope-rock at the time so everything sucked. But I got home and painted a squid. It made me happy, so I painted another. And another. And another. And a nautilus, and an octopus, and a goddam cuttlefish.
Before long, all of my friends had paintings of totally cute but totally mysterious cephalopods on their mantles and walls. Most of ‘em are still there, I think.
Let’s take a sec to get real. Cephalopods are the coolest fucking things ever. Seriously. This isn’t conjecture. It’s true. There are reasons.
- Ink. Which is what books, tattoos, and those Chinese paintings of mountains are made of.
- A Blue-Ringed Octopus is the size of a hamster but can kill 26 people in minutes.
- How they do it.
- They can solve puzzles as well as (gasp) humans. I can’t back that up with science, but it might be true. It’s probably true.
- The whole alien DNA thing.
- Their eyes rotate like hands on a clock. So up and down are always the same. Olympic divers should think about that for a second. Whaaaaat?
I could keep that list going, but I‘ll stop at 8 for symbolism's sake. Anywho, at some point, it hit me. When humans learn to communicate with cephalopods, that'll be the most significant thing in history. Forget the printing press. Forget space travel. Forget the internet. We’re talking about a leap of another kind entirely: technologically-assisted interspecies communication. Diplomacy of the Earth and Seas type shit. Octo-Talk.
I’m shaking my head when I write this because it sounds fucking crazy to me, too. But I believe, nonetheless, that interspecies communication is a far more worthwhile goal for the great minds of our generation to pursue, rather than figuring out how some glasses will let you escape to a fake robot world, or worse, making fucktons of money to buy a sailboat full of coke and some shorts with anchors on them.
More recently, I became the father of the most best incredible girl of all time, ever. She saw a Great Pacific Octopus at the aquarium. It blew her mind and mine, too. And that was all the validation I needed, because kids are always right except for when they’re learning to count. How many arms does an octopus have? One, two, three, five, six, seven, eight. It’s the cutest goddam thing, four does not exist to this kid, but octopus magic does.
And I’m sure as hell raising her to believe in a future where we can communicate with animals.