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                       "The Sinking"
                                   By Richard L. Sassoon
                                                                         Sunday, May 1, 2015
"G" by the Author.
                                                  An old man recalls the Sinking and its aftermath.

REFLECTIONS ON THE SINKING copied from a fragment of writing found afloat in a sealed jar near Cap
Hood. Just flashes, I try to catch them, like trying to catch a fish with a straight hook, as my old pure-
Japanese (whale clan) master of contemplation so long ago joked, except he said “fook” and the four of us
young students all laughed—so I remember yet from maybe forty years ago, and I’m still trying to catch
those fleeting flashes back from before this present consciousness arose, the sense of madness,
disintegration, horror: underworld happening, not really human, that haunts me yet in old age. Of course,
because the mind is returning, isn’t it, to where it came from: the subtle psychosoma that dreams
nightmares and impossible ecstasies weaving in and mostly out, way out of the shared life because there’s
no language there—and anyway didn’t the species language itself out of the rest of nature, the earth that
is known by some of us to have been? Howsoever, now we are at sea, having learned or still learning a new
language, integrated with our surroundings, as once we were, and so spoke, with earthly features and the
spirits of our various lands. (I write now in an old language a few still preserve.) Some of us say they
remember or as children were told about the Sinking. Details vary with the original times and places and
likely the quirks of memory and fancies woven into re-tellings, and there are even those, youngsters
mostly, who regard it all as fanciful or as a spiritually significant myth. What is consistent, and in many of
our minds historical, is the confusion, even chaos, that is said to have prevailed at each particular time and
place of the Sinking. Almost everywhere the majority of people were in denial about what was happening,
yet whole populaces were clearly disturbed in a variety of ways. In most urban areas there was a
significant increase of crime and general hostility, petty fights arising out of the blue in bars, on the road
and at social gatherings, even amongst some of the upper and the middle class; the latter were especially
vulnerable as coincidentally poverty was on the rise and the life of the poor had become increasingly
wretched. (Of course now there is no class structure other than the size and quality of our vessels and
allied vessels.) As the time of Sinking approached, there were people of repute who believed that the
drastic social, economic and political conditions of the time were connected, astrologically or karmicly or
in some unknown, mysterious way with the Sinking. Wherever it was actually occurring only a few
individuals, couples and parts of families began preparations for life at sea. Many couples and families
broke apart, often in bitter anger, as those who saw the Sinking and those who denied such a possibility
could hardly understand each other. When the time came, however, it is told that some who had not
prepared were seen trying to and actually stealing from others their boats, canoes and barges, and the
various odd floaters put together from scrap lumber and other material by poor people who could not
afford to purchase ready-made boats. The rich on the whole did not believe the Sinking and hired security
to protect their yachts. The guards often shot any humble looking persons in the vicinity of the marinas.
People in government (no major governments acknowledged the Sinking) put it out that talk of the
Sinking was subversive, a form of the terrorism that had been increasing for some time. The indigenous
and unemployed were increasingly suspect, along with those intellectuals and the few social activists who
were trying to warn the governments and populace at large of the imminent danger. Those who were
making their preparations or actually putting out to sea were generally regarded as insane but not
deterred. The most vivid and pathetic accounts of the Sinking are of the last moments when large coastal
regions began to submerge and small and then bigger islands sank wholly, quite rapidly or almost
instantaneously. It is told that those who had planned to leave and had bought or constructed their vessels
were often able to pick up swimmers, who at the last moment, in their clothes or stripped down, took to
the water, as well as some who, indecisive, had nonetheless acquired life preservers. Some of the
swimmers, however, and even some in boats, either because they vacillated or chose willfully to return to
land because, though it was happening, they yet could not believe the Sinking, or because they had always
lived on land and preferred to risk their lives there than gamble on a life at sea—these were caught too
near the sinking land and swallowed up the way those who have abandoned a sinking ship but not swum
or rowed far enough away are taken down with it. It is also said that a few souls who knew the truth of the
Sinking stayed or returned to land out of compassion for the ignorant—to share their fate and comfort
them spiritually in the last moments. I am obviously one who believes in our former life on land.
I have read many of the written accounts that certain humans have taken pains to copy, recopy and pass
on. I have also listened to probably all the oral traditions. What is said varies considerably, due probably
to differences of time and place of the Sinking; but concerning life on land there is much consistency in
general and of certain details. Nevertheless, though I don’t, as some do, regard it all as either meaningful
myth or pure fantasy, neither would I deny that elements of myth and fantasy have over time joined with
much of what is told as factual history, just as any of our personal and shared memories are mingled with
imagination and conscious or subconscious bias. And then like some few others I know, I have a sort of
archaic, dreamlike memory of life on land. It informs our actual dreams as well as certain moments of
waking experience. Where would this come from except some knowledge in our cells or genes of an actual
past? Amongst those of such mind, there are ones who believe that at some point in our future we will
again live, at least some of us, on land. Others believe that, though we never have, it is a future goal, a
meaning of life to be realized by our own efforts or through a miracle of grace. For them the Sinking is a
metaphor for a disastrous fall in our human nature, which is to be redeemed eventually. They divide,
however, in believing that a promised life on land is an actual destiny or is just a metaphor for a renewed
or totally new condition of our spirit. There are also those who believe that, although we may once have
lived on land, we in fact lived at sea even previously—that our life on land was but a temporary interlude,
meaningful in some fashion or even irrelevant. I think of all this because occasionally I have the feeling
that the way we now live is in some degree bizarre, unreal. But how could this be unless I am comparing it
with an imagination, memory, fantasy, whatever, of another way of living. In any case, considering that,
whether or not ourselves or our descendants ever become land dwellers, there may actually exist
somewhere people who are, I will say a few things about our life at sea, which must be so very different.
Generally, we float about in our very various vessels. Few of us paddle or row in a direction, except to
approach or move away from others who, by the accident of wind or water currents, come into sight.
Often a number of us will keep our vessels allied together, loosely or actually bound by ropes of seaweed
or other materials. There are some quite large communities that have existed for a long time. Some
welcome newcomers permanently, others only for brief visits or not at all. We trade with each other,
different kinds of fish we have caught, or fish for other foodstuffs, edible seaweeds and collected rainwater,
which is very precious, being plentiful only in certain regions. There are some pirates, of course, who fight
and steal, but these are few. Our life is hard and we breed very carefully and minimally, at least those of
us who acknowledge that only a few of our species can continue indefinitely to survive our life at sea.
Although I said that we mostly float aimlessly, there are some, loners usually or a combine of two or three
vessels, that do chose a direction, inspired by a clan master’s inspiration or someone’s vision in trance
during a ceremony or ritual sacrifice to (or of) one of the fish totems. These, then, row, paddle or sail in a
set direction, navigating by the sun and stars or an old working compass, believing of course that they will
find the promised land. By land we can mean some remnant of earth that survived the Sinking or else
“Land” in a more mystical sense, like the “Holy Grail” of a former age that I have come across in a few
writings and one of the oral traditions. So far, if any of these have indeed found land, in either sense, I
have not heard of it. Thinking in my old age to share a bit more of my personal notions . . . The original
fragment of writing (fish blood and seaweed ink on paper made of ground fish scales and pulverized
seashell), beginning with a section indecipherable due to decomposition, ends with a seemingly deliberate
tearing of the last page.)

                ©2015 Richard L. Sassoon [All Rights Reserved]
NEW REVIEWS: This is a very intense piece. What if Long Island, for example, sank to the bottom of
the Long Island Sound, and we were forced to escape to the ocean and live upon its waves? What would
become of us, and would we survive? Great story.*****__Jean Ann Morgan

Another great "stream of consciousness" piece by a talented writer who has mastered this art as well as
many others. Thank you Richard for another fine writing this time compelling in its synergy with today's
inhabitants of Mother Earth.**** __Barbare Sabo

The writing style is the most compelling part of this introspective piece. Mr. Sassoon's style made
it worthy of reading again and again. Each reading offering another level of enjoyment and understanding
to the author's incredible find. Not so far fetched as we see and feel the storms among us lapping at our
homes and covering our lands with ill intent.****__Su Chang-Wu

Was there another time of life at sea after life on land after life at sea? Mr Sassoon teases us with the cycle
of life played out through the destruction and renewal of life in a mystical place that could easily be called
"Earth." I love mysteries and strange places****__Anthany M. Gullatta
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