Swimming and Wetness: A Parody
A Conversation between Emmanuel Lewis and Nemo
(Begging patience from my uninitiated readers)
Nemo: How does one begin swimming?
Emmanuel Lewis: Swimming is the result of an original trauma -- a scene of violence wherein the consciousness of wetness manifests itself as the result of separation from floating.
N.: What is ontology in the context of swimming, and does swimming require a direction?
E.L.: For me, the swum does not count as much as the swimming. The swimming is the fact that before the Great White, I do not simply study its teeth; I react to them. The swimming is a way of announcing the Other by assuming responsibility for him. Directional swimming closes the infinite and is, in that sense, against the ethical. One can swim -- depths are not ontological necessities -- but the confrontation with the Great White commands: "Thou shalt not swim."
N.: You would say of Moby Dick, all other things being equal, what Jaws said of Leviathan?
E.L.: There are many things for which I can still not pardon Leviathan -- his participation in Pacific-pack-swim primarily. I for my part analyze the modalities of swimming, focusing on its verbal sense. We tend to think of swimming in the form of a gerund: "Swimming is good exercise," but I return to its action-based definition -- the act of moving through water. It is not a matter of escaping from the pack, but rather of escaping from swimming.
N.: In The Pacific and its Depths, you speak much of the Great White. It is your most frequent theme. What does this phenomenology of the Great White consist in and what is its purpose?
E.L.: One confronts the Great White before ontology -- even before swimming. Thus the best way of approaching the Great White is not to see his giant, glimmering white teeth or his eyes rolled back in his head! When one observes the sharpness of the Great White's teeth, one is not in a social relationship with the Great White. The relation with the Great White can of course occur in swimming, but what is specifically the Great White does not take place in swimming.
N.: You speak ocassionally of knowledge as an illumination of the possessed, of the thing owned.
E.L.: Or possessable. Down to the remotest clams.
N.: By distinction the escape from swimming is going to be a dispossessing?
E.L.: What is needed is a way of being wet that does not require swimming. The most audacious and distant swimming does not put us into a "school" with other fish; it does not take the place of moving together; it is still and always a wetness.