Sea Monsters (Minke Jonk)

Minke looked at the importance of sea monsters both in past culture and in our modern culture. Monsters occupy a liminal space that is alien and scary, but at
the same time occasionally benevolent. For example, in Olaus Magnus’ Carta Marina (1539), many different types of monsters are depicted: the Sea Orm is shown as a red serpent and represented approaching change (such as an assassination), while the Rockas is shown saving sailors who are drowning. One interesting point that was made is that the whirlpool that is depicted is a “real” danger still today, as that area of the sea is still today known for whirlpools. Minke showed the group different examples of sea monsters through time, such as a drawing of a fourteenth-century siren. She gave the group modern-day examples, such as the images conjured by Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Kraken”, the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and even Japanese Noodle commericials. She also gave examples of how descriptions of sea monsters can easily lead to the creation of terrifying images, especially during a time that science has not discovered the “real” animal (i.e., a description from 1673 of a squid). The question, “why do we want to believe in sea monsters?”, lead to an interesting discussion on the romance of the unknown.


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