The Arrowhead Expanding Outwards
Online exhibition and writing commission @ sawtoothari.com/flathead-grace-herbert
Sometimes, not having proper bait we would try our luck with bananas.
One time, on my line of three ill placed hooks I caught four fish.
To execute the fish, I was instructed to stab them in the brain, the location of which was indicated by a “map of Tasmania” atop their slimy heads.
Once, whilst gutting a fish, two live crabs began to wiggle their way out of the innards. I dropped them overboard and watched them slowly sink downward alongside various other fish bits.
The riskiest time for encountering flathead spikes - and subsequently bleeding forever because their venom contains an anticoagulant - was when wrestling the fish from the hook.
After a good spiking, I’d sit and watch the blood fill up the tissue, convinced that it would continue to seep out of the tiny gash in my skin until eventually my body would have no blood left in it at all.
I like the word anticoagulant. Wikipedia tells me anticoagulants are secreted by blood-eating animals to increase their access to blood. Or, as with flatheads, on animal spines and quills as a means of defense.
I picked my scabs - still pick my scabs - all the time.
Vascular dementia progresses over time. Reduced blood flow to the brain starves the tissue of oxygen, causing brain damage, which in turn causes difficulties with a range of functions.
A slow drain of memory and memories.
Eventually there’s no one else to vouch for the hazy adolescent memories I have of time spent on the boat, and with my pop. There’s no real memory of me either.
Anticoagulant - blood - blood sucking - billionaires - teenagers - Peter Thiel.
A Silicon Valley company offers transfusions of the blood of teenagers to rich people as an anti-aging treatment.
Peter Thiel has expressed interest in this kind of transfusion many times but denies he has actually received it. Thiel is an investor in Unity Biotechnology, a company whose ‘mission is to extend human healthspan, the period in one’s life unburdened by the disease of aging.’
The blood company, Ambrosia, says their teenagers are volunteers.
Peter Thiel is ranked number 328 on the Forbes 400 list of billionaires. Founder of PayPal, investor in Facebook, Air BnB etc etc. Also founder of Palantir Technologies - named after an artifact from Lord of the Rings used to communicate with faraway parts of the world - a company caught up in the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data thing. Along with life extension and data mining, Thiel has significant interests in mining mining.
In 2015 Thiel bought a 193-hectare piece of land in Wanaka on the South Island, the area with the mountains in Lord of the Rings, intended for a survival bunker, farm, store, airstrip in preparation for the apocalypse. He is also a proponent of seasteading - building startup communities in the ocean.
Floating societies with political autonomy, libertarian utopias. Plenty of fish out there.
In Sydney before the lockdown, a Biennale artwork titled UNNAMED by Tania Brugera asked participants to pick a card from a filing cabinet. Each card had on the front a different name, and on the back the story of that person’s death. The artwork description explains that the 751 cards show names of people who died “interfering in activities by companies and states that would devastate local environments such as water and dams, mining and extractives, agribusiness, poaching, logging, fishing, roads and utilities and others. This number shows only those killings that have been reported.”
I picked out a card with the name ‘Mangal Mardy’, signed a disclaimer and proceeded to a bench where a friendly tattoo artist prepared to “dry tattoo" the name on my arm. I was asked to read the back of the card, the events surrounding Mangal Mardy’s death, whilst the tattooing took place.
‘Mangal Mardy was killed on the 6th of November 2016. He was hit by a bullet during clashes between the ethnic minority Santal group and police and workers of Rangpur Sugar Mill’ - The tattoo artist interrupts to tell me this was the first story they had heard from Bangladesh, ‘all the others have been from South America’, they’d only been doing this for a few days. I wondered if his family, all the families of all the names, knew this was happening.
The tattoo stung. The name Mangal Mardy remained as a welt on my arm for days, scabbed in parts, and then I picked at it until it became illegible, eventually disappearing altogether.
Now I’m dreaming of dry tattooing Peter Thiel with flathead spikes.