Category Archives: Fishing

Zero In on the Problem

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A Colorless LifeWeek #4 Black & White

A Colorless Life
Week #4 Black & White

A Colorless Life

(Week #4 Black and White)

 In one version of this tale the last line the fish says is “Wilt thou be the lord on high? Then back with thee to thy pig-sty.”  And at the very end of the story the last line reads … “There they are to this day.”

So I decided to zero in on the problem. Let’s look at the couple today … put them in the spot light. I imagine they are still fishing and still hoping to catch again the magic fish or some other enchanted creature. Because in their world it’s all about The Golden Fish. It is clear that the only way to get ahead is to get lucky and to get lucky means catching the Enchanted Fish Prince and start demanding wishes.

The prompt this week is black and white. Light and dark, opposites and contrary are all synonyms associated with the idea of black and white. The Fisherman and his Wife seem to be opposites, but are they really? The wife is the Fisherman’s anima and she exemplifies his inner feminine. In the story, she gets the job done where he hasn’t been very effective. She makes demands and he goes along with her requests. Today I suppose she greets him daily and asks if he has seen the Golden Fish? The two of them are still stuck in a colorless world, only the Golden fish shines.

If this story were a dream, the fish might represent spirituality and the Fisherman could be seeking patience and understanding. He is plumbing the depths of his own subconscious in order to find spiritual food. The wife is only interested in material things and positions of power. In this way, she is not looking after his inner feminine. They are acting contrary.

Looking at the other symbols as part of this dream the Sea often represents the realm of emotions. Emotions are  life – sustaining, cleansing and healing. Only the Ocean demonstrates the story’s main emotions. The Fish does not. The Fisherman grumbles and the Wife demands. Water is life, sacred and healing. The sea is the source of all life, the unfathomable. It also symbolizes infinite wisdom. The Ocean is associated with the Tao and the Great Mother.

Nature in its divine wisdom, knows that things are out of balance and makes the needed correction. If the couple wants their life to change, they must stop expecting magic. They must work together in a positive way, they need to recognize their emotions and accept that they are not the center of the universe. They must change their greediness into generosity and their dissatisfaction in to joy. They must learn to balance their opposites.

The Fisherman and His Wife

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FishScan_Pic0005The Fisherman and His Wife

(The Brothers Grimm)

Week #1 The Big Picture

In the telling of this story, the Magical Fish is often a Flounder. I looked up Flounder to see what they look like. I also discovered some interesting facts about this type of fish.

Founders grow to about 15 inches and weigh around 2 pounds. They are a group of flatfish species.  They are found at the bottom of the Ocean, Pacific and the Atlantic, and in lagoons and estuaries. It is the left eye flounder that lies on its right side. They are usually brown but vary in shade depending on the color of the substratum. The Flounder in our story is “Special” he is the shade of gold. The blindside of the Founder, the side facing the bottom, usually is white.

Flatfish like Founder are unlike most other fishes in that they begin life as a bilateral animal, swimming similarly to other fishes. However, as they mature they lie on the bottom on one side of their body. At this time a metamorphosis begins and involves complex modification of the skeletal structure of the head, and rearrangement of the nervous system and muscle tissue. Additionally, the eye on the side that faces the bottom migrates to the upper side of the body.

Comparing the transformation of our Magic Founder with the stagnate Fisherman and his Wife is interesting. The Wife is dissatisfied and greedy and the Fisherman is complacent. Neither is interested in real change. The Fisherman is caught between disturbing the talking Founder who is really a prince and his demanding wife.

The Sea portrays the fish’s emotions. As the Fisherman returns over and over again to ask for more and more – he calls the fish singing the same chant and the fish replies by asking the same question. The fish never  expresses his feelings but the Sea tells tells us. Each visit the Fisherman finds a different Ocean. The waters change, the waves change, the sky changes but the Magic Fish remains the same. Whatever is asked of the fish he gives freely and in spades. The granted wish is even more lavish then the request. The Fish is very generous and abundant.

Yet it does not satisfy the greedy Wife. The hole in her life is not filled or satisfied by material “things.” Having more power does not seem to help her either. Since nothing seems to extinguish her neediness, the great fish in his wisdom takes it all back. The two are returned to their former state. The Fisherman is still complacent, he only wants his wife to stop nagging him, and his Wife is as happy with nothing as she was when she had nearly everything. There is no transformation, nothing has changed.

Caught Between

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fisherman and wife 300

Michelle picked the story this week. I only vaguely remembered it, but knowing her attraction to sea creatures and water themes, I happily agreed. It’s an odd little story – more of a ballad than a tale with a constantly repeating refrain. Nothing much happens in the overview- the man is self-deprecating, the fish accommodating, the wife greedy and these three characteristics are repeated without much variation in every verse until, at last, the cycle returns to its starting place. The richness and diversity comes in the wonderful descriptions of detail as each wish is granted. (You can find this story under Monthly Tales on our navigation bar.)

They begin with the bloody streak left behind on the water as the fish, released by the fisherman, dives beneath the waves. The story goes on to describe, gardens, courtyard, animals, golden chairs, the height of ladies-in-waiting, papal crowns, and burning lights. However, even with all that the reader gradually comes to notice that as the desires of the wife become more extravagant, their fulfillment becomes largely the same, differing only in size. The emptiness the woman feels goes unfulfilled because she can only imagine more – not “other.”

The one thing that really changes is the sea and sky. They change in color and degrees of perturbation. The wind varies from calm to raging tempest. The wave lie flat, run in crested rills, roll and crash. The sea and sky reflect the emotions of the humans (including the speaking fish, an enchanted prince) who seem unable to express them in direct speech.

My first collage of the month, the overview, contains the three protagonists and their spokesthing, the sea. The sea is reflected in the background. You see very little of it as yet, when the story opens the sea is simply the context, but even so, one can descry its complexity and movement.

The wife is represented by the naked female torso encased in black fishnet. The fishnet identifies her as the wife of a fisherman. It also stands for the state the characters are stuck in. Each one is trapped in a situation- the woman in her greed, the man in his marriage, and the fish in his enchantment. There is no way out – no stalwart heroine of hero bent on a quest to break into the status quo with new insights or ideas, no helpful fairies or animals willing to help, no drop of compassion to nourish new growth. Remember, the fisherman releases the fish because he wants nothing to do with a talking animal.

The fisherman is caught in the middle between the fish and the wife. He would like to please them both, but finds this an impossible task.

The fish is huge – commanding in its power and presence, but, like any fish, without affect. There is no way to tell what it is thinking. Fish are normally seen as signs of rebirth and regeneration, nevertheless this is not a real fish – he is simply a human decked out as a God. The fish is a traditional sign for Jesus Christ and hence the Church. The Church is also mentioned directly in the story when the wife demands to be made Pope. Maybe, the tale is meant to point a finger at the emptiness of an over-inflated church where once true spirituality made its home.

Finally, notice the tiny fish escaping the mouth of the larger fish. It is there because I wondered what made the “man of the sea” so patient with the demands of the fishwife? Perhaps, he understood her greed? After all, at the beginning of the story we find him caught on a baited hook.

The Fisherman and His Wife

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March 2013: This month’s Focus Tale

In March our focus will be on the Fairytale “The Fisherman and His Wife,” another German tale from the Brothers Grimm. (You can read an updated version of this tale by clicking on Monthly Tales listed on our blog site menu.) It is our intension to select stories from around the world. It just so happens that our first two Focus Tales have come from the Brothers Grimm. Next Month we will choose a tale, myth or story from another place and time.

Our first prompt, Week #1 is “The Big Picture.”
We will post on the first Monday of the month our Art Piece from the prompt The Big Picture along with a brief essay about our experience.

First, I like to read several versions of the Fairy tale. I like to do a little research, too. Once I’ve broken the tale into its significant parts I start to figure out what I’ll need to illustrate the story, its theme and significance.

Illustrating the story gives us a chance to get to know or re-familiarize our self with the tale. It lets us break down the tale’s basic building blocks so that we can reassemble them into an art piece of our own.

If you are playing along with us, read the tale and then using the Big Picture as the prompt create a collage and/or mixed media art piece that expresses your feelings or ideas.