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Tao Lin

The Existentially Fucked Megamouth Shark

The existentially fucked megamouth shark is fourteen-feet long and weighs 1100 pounds and is very clean and healthy, because of its raw organic vegan diet, and often receives compliments from other megamouth sharks about its beautiful dark-gray skin and "healthy glow," but spends almost all its time alone in the Indian Ocean floating in place at 14,000 feet below sea level with a concerned facial expression thinking about various philosophical issues such as the relationship between "the arbitrary nature of the universe" and "consciousness means we must choose"; the function in terms of morality of writing, art, or music that is without rhetoric; and the question of whether to focus one’s attention and meaning in life on one megamouth shark, on a few megamouth sharks, on one’s own morality, or on all megamouth sharks.

"How do I actualize in concrete reality my simultaneous knowledge of an existential view of the universe and a moral view of the universe?" thinks the megamouth shark. "Is the simultaneous actualization of both views manifest in sarcasm? But isn’t sarcasm metaphysical, and therefore not an actualization, in concrete reality, but another philosophy, or something?" The existentially fucked megamouth shark sometimes receives emails that say things like, "Look at Dick Cheney's apparent willingness to suspend his anti-gay family agenda for the sake of his own megamouth shark and her pregnancy," or, "Taking an uncompromising moral stand in the Indian Ocean first and foremost subjects you to a higher level of scrutiny." Sometimes the megamouth shark who is existentially fucked receives very giant emails in which he is criticized from an existential point of view, a view which can not be argued against, the megamouth shark vaguely knows, even with facts, thinks the megamouth shark uncertainly, "because to criticize a fellow megamouth shark from an existential point of view is to censor or question a megamouth shark’s very existence or to censor or question a fact's very existence." After thinking something like that the megamouth shark feels very confused and alone and like there is nothing left to think, or do, in the universe, and swims carelessly and headbutts a blue whale or sometimes a small jellyfish or yellowfin tuna, making the blue whale stop swimming for a moment, the jellyfish turn into a clear to clear-white paste, and the tuna spin through the water like a ninja star for thirty feet before swimming away quickly in an arbitrary direction.

One day the megamouth shark is bored and decides to get USDA organic certification. The existentially fucked megamouth shark's blood is extracted and the megamouth shark is certified organic. It costs fifty dollars. A "USDA-certified organic" sticker comes in the mail five days later with a handwritten letter. The letter says the megamouth shark is actually a rare species of hamster-megamouth shark hybrid and shares only 98% of the genes of a normal megamouth shark. The other genes are from a subspecies of "dwarf hamster" called "Campbell's Dwarf Hamster." The megamouth stares at the letter until it blurs and then weakly and uninterestedly and a little automatically, in a monotone, begans to think that this explains why it often feels alone in the company of other megamouth sharks, why it often feels like the only megamouth shark alive, and why it often feels only a vague sense of responsibility and guilt and insatiability and boredom and meaninglessness when in relationships with other megamouth sharks, romantic or otherwise, "though," the megamouth shark thinks very weakly, in a sarcastic and lecturing tone, already beginning to feel other kinds of despair related to unresolved philosophical issues that it can sense, but not articulate, are also related to its current thoughts, "when not in the company of other megamouth sharks I almost always feel those same kinds of feelings or else have urges to want to feel those kinds of feelings."

Tao Lin is the author of a novel, EEEEE EEE EEEE, and a story-collection, BED, which were published simultaneously by Melville House in May, 2007 in the first two-book story-collection/novel debut since Ann Beattie in 1976. Tao is also the author of a poetry collection, YOU ARE A LITTLE BIT HAPPIER THAN I AM. His web site is called READER OF DEPRESSING BOOKS.

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