Friday, October 14, 2016

What You're Missing

The clam-shell fountain.  At a pivotal moment in the film, it is mentioned that not only was Jazeera Al Hamra a "beautiful fishing village," but was famous for specializing in one particular market: pearl fishing.

It is a richer bit of history, that this venerated old village was not just your run-of-the-mill fishing town, but had specialized in a skill such as pearl hunting, in which able and athletic divers risked life and limb plunging themselves deep into the unknowable waters to claim, then bring to the surface, objects of beauty.  It is a rarefied vocation, melding the physical laborer of the worker with the right to beauty of the aesthete, not to mention the freedom of athletes, privileged in doing something only few are skilled enough to do.  A pearl hunter seems emancipated from the material world, making a living becoming one with another world below the sea.  In other words, they are as free as the djinn.

It becomes of particular personal meaning for me, in that the second most important work I experienced in 2015, singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom's 2015 album Divers, also contains a theme of pearl hunting, characterizing the divers as men in particular who brave the ocean, who "take one breath above for every hour below the sea," and only in cycles return to the women who wait.  The album Divers, and the particular song in question, from which the album takes its name, also meditates on issues of a past and future timeline, at times converging, and the risks humanity takes in facing the past and racing to modernity, as does Djinn, when seen with utmost comprehension to its subject matter and the looseness of its fable-like story.

The clam fountain is a reminder and a rejoinder, a foreboding one in the world of Djinn, one of a lover's promise not kept in a future/past world in Divers.

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