Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Water and Fire: The Passion and the Fury of Mermaids - revisited from la Vie Sirene 2013

Fire by tobiee aka Tobias Kwan 
by Matthew Morse 

A few years ago, it started to become clear to my Facebook friends and family, some of whom I had not seen on a regular basis for years, that I liked mermaids. This started to draw some questions as to my motivation, given that I am a single man in my forties and have no children.
“I have to ask Matt, what is up with the mermaids?” 
“What is with you and these Mermaids? I think you may have a fetish? Just saying.”
There are some good arguments for these questions, if one believes that I am the sort of man who objectifies women: the vast majority of the mermaids I follow are significantly younger than I am and they often present themselves in clamshell bikini tops. Perhaps I am nothing more than a “mervert,” a term that one of my dearest friends in the community defines as “someone who ogles and says gross things.”

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I learned of a community of people and gradually found myself becoming part of it. Why on earth would I want to alienate myself from these fascinating people by objectifying them?

Although my initial attraction was to the grace and the style with which mermaids glide through the water, it soon became clear to me that there is a great deal more to them than meets the eye. Their passions include a wide range of subjects, including conservation and environmental awareness, the amazing wonders of animal and plant life under the sea, the humane treatment of those creatures, incredible athleticism and fitness, art of every manner (tailmaking, painting, singing, et cetera), self-esteem, and the incredible possibilities that come when one follows a dream – and how sometimes, that dream can be met with mockery from longtime friends and family. My new friends also raised my awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia, and type II diabetes.

When playwright William Congreve wrote "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned" in the 1697 play The Mourning Bride, he must have had no idea how much of an understatement his words would become when applied to mermaids and their supporters. The fury of a mermaid who has been wronged has little equal. There are people in this world who have little regard for crediting artists for their work, preserving the gifts of nature, or honoring the sentience of cetaceans. Knowing mermaids is not always a day at the beach, but often about how human behavior has put that beach into jeopardy – and what we can do to reverse that impact.

Both the water and the fire – the passion and the fury – have been passed along to me. I feel myself so fortunate to have been embraced within the mer-community and to have learned from its members. I now find myself helping to carry the banner in their marches on some issues, as well as delighting in the successes in their personal and professional lives, both above and below the waterline. Through a combination of admiration and mutual respect, it is my great honor to share that many of us have gone from strangers to friends.

And that, dear reader, is what is up with me and mermaids. If there is something wrong with showing respect and developing community, I don’t want to be right.