Mickey de Mollusk

Mickey de Mollusk was an unfortunate creature with no head or backbone who lived in a shell. In spite of his Cambrian ancestry he came from the wrong side of the tracks, a mere accident of birth but it was an austerity which Mickey de Mollusk considered sufficient to afford him the licence of indiscriminate and sometimes venomous ventilation. Meanwhile he resided buried in sediment where he felt safe from predation. He was exceedingly private. Besides he had his shell to protect him and no one would ever see who he really was; on the outside he looked the same from any angle, amorphous. His was a hardened calcified exterior. Inside he was soft, though characteristically less than wholesome and more vulnerable than anything else. This was a regrettable perspective because of course Mickey de Mollusk never came out of his shell so he hadn’t the advantage of seeing – as others might have done – that his exterior though obdurate was nonetheless moderately compelling. But inwardly he seethed with poisonous anger and wasteful notions which from time to time he sought to circulate through his two symmetrical doors (bivalves).

Mickey de Mollusk occasionally attempted to elevate himself by attaching to rocks or other hard surfaces. He’d even been known to cement himself to dead matter, the consummate sessile lifestyle. He discovered that he could render himself superior by standing on others. His determination however regularly failed or his project became dislodged by circumstance and he fell to the miserable muck and weeds below where he spent his time contemplating his next campaign, imagining how it might unfold and the clever protestations he might exhale as proof of his ingenuity of which he was privately convinced. In the meantime it was only his secretion of mucus which marked his trail.

His was a difficult life, a desperate condition. Though Mickey de Mollusk was in the company of a multitude of other filter feeders (as many as 85,000 species) who like him strained suspended particles from above (and who proclaimed their important role in monitoring and clarifying pollutants), Mickey de Mollusk never would deign to count anyone his equal. Years of isolated experience had indoctrinated him to maintain barriers and distance. He pretended to have no interest whatever in being part of the world of others. His was a self-contained universe, private, vulgar and obscure. He had no idea that the toxins he and other invertebrates like him regularly ingested were at risk of contaminating him; nor that his excretions did nothing to disinfect.

To the outsider Mickey de Mollusk – in spite of his pretence of singularity and novelty – was no more than an indistinguishable part of a herd. The realization – had he addressed it – would have deeply agitated him because his supreme ambition was individuality. Unable to fathom any way of distinguishing himself in the murky depths of his existence he fashioned that he might at least succeed to pull down others to his level to quell his own dishonoured sensibilities. The focus was never nutrition or sustenance – there was always plenty of fodder for improvement and growth – rather it was to denounce the imbalance of his misfortune. Mickey de Mollusk – though he had eyes to see and sensors to touch – was so apt not to use them that he shielded himself from knowledge and exploration. As a result he had no capacity to learn from others nor to share their aspirations.  Mickey de Mollusk might just have clammed up but instead he persisted to take offence at what he perceived to be a predator. Sadly this characterization conflicted with the symbolism with which his fossils are associated:

The scallop is the symbol of St James and is called Coquille Saint-Jacques in French. It is an emblem carried by pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The shell became associated with the pilgrimage and came to be used as a symbol showing hostelries along the route and later as a sign of hospitality, food and lodging elsewhere.

Roman myth has it that Venus, the goddess of love, was born in the sea and emerged accompanied by fish and dolphins, with Botticelli depicting her as arriving in a scallop shell. The Romans revered her and erected shrines in her honour in their gardens, praying to her to provide water and verdant growth. From this, the scallop and other bivalve shells came to be used as a symbol for fertility. Its depiction is used in architecture, furniture and fabric design and it is the logo of Royal Dutch Shell, the global oil and gas company.

All that remains of Mickey de Mollusk is an abandoned deadened shell.