Humans and animals
Sarah Dillon, Abi Curtis and Michael Jones
A ‘hybrid’ presentation combining a creative and critical approach to the strange power of the squid in writing. From Tennyson’s ‘The Kraken’ of 1830 to China Miéville’s recent science fiction novel Kraken. Through the Natural History Museum’s pickled giant squid Archie, in its glass display case, I will explore the creative pull of the squid. Drawing on the writer’s fascination with touch, with the ocean’s depths, with monstrosity and multiplicity of limbs, ‘Squiddity’ will itself be a kind of monster, both in and out of its fictional element.
Novels offer examples of the art of living; their narratives give us a sense of what it is to be human, to live with ourselves and others. However, at a historical moment shattering our senses of the non-human animal and the abundant planet, a set of images have emerged in the contemporary novel that can only proffer examples of twenty-first century living by asking what it means to have a sense of ourselves as human, and to live on that sense alone.