Cephalopods

By September 23, 2013

This four-part series was written by Edje Jeter:

Cephalopods 1 of 4: Cuttlefish

Octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiloids make up the class Cephalopoda (Greek: head-feet). Cephalopods appear in oceans, horror stories, nineteenth-century polemical literature, and?in their Mormon instantiations?in my next four posts. [1] I begin with the cuttlefish.

Cephalopods 2 of 4: Devil Fish and Octopuses

Last week I posted on the cuttlefish and a few weeks ago I posted on the upas tree. The upas post was prompted by a line from Edgar Folk: ?[Mormonism] is the Upas tree of our civilization, the octopus of our political life.?[1] Having treated the vegetable, I now turn to the animal.

Cephalopods 3 of 4: Octopus Maps

Seeing as how it?s ?Mormonism and Politics? month at JI, let?s talk about spineless carnivores with sucker-covered tentacles. One of the most common forms of octopus propaganda was a labeled octopus on a map representing an ?imperial? power of some sort?a nation or company or, in the Mormon case, a church/theocracy?that controlled various geographic areas politically or economically. Michelle Farran at Vulgar Army provides several examples(see image below).

Cephalopods 4 of 4: The Nineteenth-Century Octopus

The octopus metaphor persists to the present but the cultural milieu has changed.[1] For example, last week I wrote about the image at right. My sense is that most 2013 observers would describe it as ?quaint,? maybe even ?cute.? A century earlier it was an ?inky-black demon? with a ?big black body lying flat, disgustingly spread? or ?a horrible octopus? with ?fiendish goggle eyes? and ?treacherous succer-like tenticles reaching out.? [2] In this post I will try to account for the difference?I will summarize something of what late-nineteenth-century Europeans and Americans thought and felt about octopuses. [3] (Spoiler alert: it casts Mormonism as very bad.)

Series

Recent Comments

Kevin Barney on What to Expect When: “I'll be there. I first started subscribing to the Journal circa 1995, because I was teaching a stake church history class and thought I ought to…”


Edje Jeter on What to Expect When: “Great comments, y'all.”


Jeff T on What to Expect When: “Thanks, Edje! In case anyone else is as unorganized as me: the conference hotel doesn't have any more rooms at the MHA rate ($122 per night),…”


Ardis on What to Expect When: “I see the First Timers’ Breakfast is on the schedule this year, which is another place to break the ice, have questions answered, and recognize…”


Curtis C on What to Expect When: “Thanks for the great writeup! I've always wanted to attend MHA, but never seemed to have the time to do it. Now that it's in…”


acw on What to Expect When: “Thanks for this thorough and inspiring intro! I hope to make it one of these years.”

Topics


juvenileinstructor.org