The Ninth Tentacle

…is a category for things I write about that don’t easily fit in to any of the blog themes. For, believe it or not, I am not an octopus. There are more themes in my life than eight. I haven’t mentioned Penguins, Music, Costume History, Interior Decoration, Art or Marine Archeology. Or many other things that defy classification, even if I could identify them.

I’m not, however, going to make a big deal over the problem of categories, because they are a very useful tool to help organise life. I like organising. I am deeply aware of categorical pitfalls, though. It is when categories are seen as absolute, or that we are blind for the problems that certain categories involve, that trouble arises.

When I discuss categories and categorisation with my students, I usually give them a funny example written by Jorge Luis Borges in 1942 (although he claimed that it was translated from a Chinese Dictionary). In the essay “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins” he argues against a rigid method of categorising animals linguistically, and gives this as an alternative example of how animals can be categorised:

  • Those that belong to the emperor
  • Embalmed ones
  • Those that are trained
  • Sucking pigs
  • Mermaids (or Sirens)
  • Fabulous ones
  • Stray dogs
  • Those that are included in this classification
  • Those that tremble as if they were mad
  • Innumerable ones
  • Those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush
  • Et cetera
  • Those that have just broken the flower vase
  • Those that, at a distance, resemble flies

This post is headed by a photograph by Noah Elhardt. The image is of a plant’s “tentacle”. The plant is called Drocera Capensis. I chose the picture to illustrate a point of crossing, an aspect of common ground between Krikon and Kraken. The ninth tentacle, the uncategorised blog, is, however, neither Krikon nor Kraken. The common ground is that it defies category although referring to both.


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