The Silent World
“Encased in steel capsules, man ventures forth from the friendly environment of earth to a space beyond, to the waters below in search of the unknown. So the new submarines of the Calypso enter a world long forbidden, a dark and silent world. Past old boundaries they descend to new frontiers. What had seemed alien and full of menace will grow familiar and reveal itself in beauty.”
Thus begins one episode of the television documentary The Undersea Adventures of Jacques Cousteau, the inspiration behind our newest collection of rugs (and one quilt) The Silent World.
Jacques Cousteau was a diver, scientist, filmmaker, writer, inventor, environmentalist, educator and style icon. He produced dozens of films and documentaries, many shot from his research vessel the Calypso. Our notes from a few of his recorded expeditions:
A young fur seal named Christobal, temporarily living aboard the Calypso with his brother Pepito, strays into a fisherman’s net. The fisherman, not quite knowing what to do with the young pup, sells Christobal to a family grieving the recent death of their dog. They keep him as a pet in the backyard pool, until the Cousteau team tracks him down and collects him to return to the wild.
A Great Green Sea Turtle gets tangled in a root on her way back to the ocean after having traveled more than 1400 miles to reach the little island off the coast of South Africa where she lays her eggs. The narrator (Rod Serling, who also narrated the Twilight Zone) grimly chronicles the slow death that awaits her as well as the imminent decomposition of her body in the sun, where it will inevitably be raided by hermit crabs. The turtle stops struggling as though she too has seen this vision of her future. Suddenly, two suntanned men in speedos appear and free her.
The octopuses who live on the floor of the Mediterranean are in constant search of a home, or materials to build one, something the local fisherman have learned over centuries to use to their advantage. We watch as a fisherman lowers a series of clay pots into the ocean and as he hauls one up with an octopus inside. We watch too as the octopus creeps out of the clay pot and slips out of the boat and back into the water. Here he continues his search for a home, coming upon one potential residence which proves to be already occupied. The two octopuses engage in deadly combat, and Cousteau drily notes, “When home, food or sex is at stake, there are no gentlemen.” As the interloper is close to death and turning white, a Cousteau diver swims into the frame and gently disengages them. “There comes a time where we cannot remain passive observers of the merciless life and death struggle.”
The Undersea World is adventurous, inquisitive, tender, and shamelessly subjective. Life is hard, but it is fascinating and filled with wonderful things.
Photography: Jonathan Hökklo