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Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Hidden Depths of Goldfish
But I don't believe it.
I've been going out to our fishpond every morning for the last several weeks and dropping some fish food into the tank. When I first started doing this, the fish seemed suspicious, like they were thinking I was out to try to poison them for some reason, don't know why, maybe to get my hands on their fish fortunes, for all I know.
Gradually, though, they came to trust me and the food I sprinkled on them and would start swimming over to me whenever they saw me looming. They were obviously expecting their morning manna.
They were something to see, too. They'd come rushing around, knocking each other over and out of the way, calling out, "Hey, everybody, it's the fish-food man. Hey, you brought me food before. You got any food for me today? Spill it, big man. Feed me. Feed me. Throw me something, mister."
This behavior of theirs indicated to me that they had memories that could stretch back longer than the time it took them to flap their gills a couple of times and flip their fins.
It also seemed to indicate they possessed a means of constructing their own mythologies, populated by their own fishy archetypes of gods and heroes, monsters and villains. In the morning, when I brought food, I was like Demeter in the Spring to them; but in the afternoon, when I was there to skim the dead leaves off the surface of the water, I was Poseidon, boiling up storms across the face of the Aegean.
Overactive imaginations, but stupid, all the same.