Monday, April 25, 2011

Animal Alphabet: D is for Dobsonfly

I could have predicted this would happen. I'm so swamped with grading this week that I pretty much have to punt on the Animal Alphabet. Before I could even properly decide between dung beetle and dobsonfly, the deadline is passing...

Fortunately, I have a preliminary sketch-doodle that I can post.

A dobsonfly, in case you don't know, is what a hellgrammite grows up into. The thing that's missing from the preliminary sketch is a sense of scale: for insects, dobsonflies are large, and those pincers the males have are pretty impressive.

And as I was scanning that doodle, I thought, "Where have I seen that before?"

It turns out that my notebook for Spring 1996, early in my grad-school days, is full of drawings of dobsonflies and hellgrammites.

I was working on a poem then, eventually drafted too much under the influence of Hart Crane I think, about water insects.

The diagram of the three arrows represented the three worlds I wanted to describe: the water-strider's transit across the surface of the pond, the metamorphosis of insects like the hellgrammite and the dragonfly, and the hand of the human collector passing down into the underwater world. Or at least that's how I read it now, fifteen years later.

Like most of my old creative efforts, it's a little embarrassing to look at: yet another old failure. But maybe there's something I could learn from those fifteen-year-old notebooks (scribbled by a twenty-four-year-old) if I had a little more tranquillity in which to recollect them. Today, however, I'm back to the grading piles. Poetry (and drawing) is for another day.


Mike said...

Nice on the W.W. allusion there, Kaiser; I guess "something you could learn" might well be a poem, on occasion.

It's funny how one's doodles fall into patterns, such that you can "recognize" an image you used to make a lot of. At a certain point the doodles can almost become ideograms, more like writing than drawing.

And seeing your last scan, with the hand & the bugs alongside the arrows, I see what you mean in the way you've explained it, but your first mention of three arrows and three worlds of course reminded me of Escher's "Three Worlds" (which of course we swiped in SatCom #4...will I ever revive the Swipe File posts? "For another day.").

Anyway: I *like* your dobsonfly doodle. And "hellgrammite"! What a word!

Isaac said...

"Hellgrammite" is of course not merely a word but a DC villain.

Curious Art said...

Oh my, poetry meets field notes! What a wonderful post. Fascinating how the dobsonfly sketch brought that whole time back to you.

Isaac said...

If those are "field notes," they're only field notes for the poem. I probably scribbled those in the stacks of a library.

I have a weird degree of specific memory for my doodles in old notebooks. I'm not sure why. Probably it's the same brain function that enables my packrat tendencies.