Giant Pink Snail

July 8, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Posted in australian poetry, blogging, links, writing | 19 Comments
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As a child I loved the original Dr Doolittle movie with Rex Harrison and I particular remember the amazingly fantabulous giant pink snail. For some reason there is no picture of this snail anywhere on the internet which is both a great disappointment and a mystery.

One of the things about the internet which has always intrigued me is the way that themes seem to arise in various places at the same time, spontaneously like magic. I think it has something to do with the fact that on the net there is literally no time (since everything exists permanently in archives) and no space (because links make everything adjacent).

There is no rational explanation for why one of my favourite poets, Maxine Clarke, should have posted this fabulous poem remembering a snail, “Trespassing (a poem)” on the same day that Paeonia Miko posted this beautiful photograph of my book “The Puzzle Box” being visited by a snail in Bali.

There is something special about seeing photographs of “The Puzzle Box” in places I’ve never been. It is as though I was travelling on the back of that Giant Pink Snail. Adulthood is an illusion. It is an uncomfortable suit of clothes which makes us stiff and complex and at odds with life which is fluid and simple and wondrous.



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  1. Didn’t watch Dr. Doolittle but I love your last thoughts. Life is definitely fluid, simple and wondrous and one can certainly be stiff in these adult clothes.
    Oh you should rent a DVD, Michelle, or read the original book. It is wondrous.

  2. You mean this ?
    or this?
    Wow! Thankyou. The first one is it. And that is a very cool bloggedy blog you have.

  3. “Adulthood is an illusion. It is an uncomfortable suit of clothes which makes us stiff and complex and at odds with life which is fluid and simple and wondrous.”

    Well said…
    Thanks, Cocoyea. So glad to hear you are back gigging again.

  4. Life is indeed wondrous, as is your beautiful poetry: fluid and filled with marvels.
    Thanks, Thomma Lyn. Your book is going great guns, congratulations!

  5. snail on Puzzle Box wonderful – lovely when books travel and have adventures.
    It is. Thanks, Juliet. And for the tiny edit on the ‘holding hands’ poem.

  6. There are no coincidences, Paul. None.
    Absatively, Maxine.

  7. I also love that snail – and still think about it a lot as an adult. I think I have the picture of the snail from the book (not the movie) in my head. It must be somewhere on the internet – or in some second hand bookshop around the place (I will hunt). Cheers Gabrielle
    Cheers, Gabrielle. I had someone google my blog looking for yours but you don’t seem to have one, which is a pity.

  8. Oh I loved that movie too! (Rex Harrison is a particular favourite – though snails do scare me)…

    I love how life intersects in the strangest of ways to highlight random similarities and possibilities…
    It is an amazing adventure, Tracey.

  9. No coincidences?
    I am in the middle of reading that very book, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (the one with the Great Glass Sea Snail) to my son. We haven’t got to the snail bit.

    The film was one of my favourites too. And it’s as old as me!

    There’s a discussion of the bowdlerisation of Doctor Dolittle – mainly changing references to black people. I am using those bits (in the same paperback i re-read and re-read in the 1970s) as springboards for talking about race, culture, history, etc.

    Apart from that, i’m bemused to find how much my personal ethic derives from Doctor Dolittle. His attitude to money, and worry (‘Don’t lift your foot until you come to the stile’), and animals… ;0)
    Very cool link, thanks, Mand. The original book is a truly wonderful piece of literature. I’m very glad it is still being read.

  10. Sorry, i meant to link to that discussion of the bowdlerisation:

  11. Great links to the giant pink snail, Zxvasdf!

    I really enjoyed your bloggedy blog, Paul. Lovely bit of snail synchronicity going on in the world, it seems.
    I’m very glad you enjoyed it, Julia. There are snails everywhere all of a sudden.

  12. This is a personal favorite of mine. My favorite Dr. Dolittle quote, ” The little things in life are like links in a chain; they never seem important by themselves.” Cheers friend!
    There are so many fabulous lines in there, F.G. Cheers, my old friend. How are you?

  13. you’re right!
    i just spent ages searching, not a jot.

    there was this though:

    i’m sure the inside looks just like that!
    That is beautiful.

  14. The pink snail was my favorite part of the movie. I tried in vain to find a pic from the movie.

    Adulthood is indeed an illusion. Wanna come play on the swings?
    Haha, the swings and the roundabouts, Tina?

  15. I remember the snail from Dr.Doolittle. Yeah this adult body, almost as strange as wearing your shell house on your back.

    Speaking of clothes, here is a beautiful relevant poem by WS Merwin, I hope you love it as much as I do:


    Believing comes after
    there were coverings
    who can believe
    that we were born without them
    he she or it wailing
    back the first breath
    from a stark reflection
    raw and upside-down
    early but already
    not original

    into the last days
    and then some way past them
    the body that we
    are assured is more
    than what covers it
    is kept covered
    out of habit which
    is a word for dress
    out of custom
    which is an alteration
    of the older word costume
    out of decency
    which is handed down
    from a word for what
    is fitting

    apparently we believe
    in the words
    and through them
    but we long beyond them
    for what is unseen
    what remains out of reach
    what is kept covered
    with colors and sizes
    we hunger
    for what is undoubted yet dubious
    known to be different
    and our fabrics tell
    of difference
    we dress in difference
    calling it ours

    Cheers mate!
    Cheers! That is a fabulous poem, Harmonie. I am going to have to look further into WS Merwin, I know he’s a favourite of yours. Where are you now on your travels?

  16. The Puzzle Box has traveled all over the west with me–I need to remember to take photos and send them to you!
    That would be very cool, AP. Thanks. Maybe from Burning Man?

  17. “Adulthood is an illusion.” [could not agree more…]

    the giant pink snail is wonderful proof of the spiritual dimension which exists in and beyond our imagination…

  18. oo i hope you and the snail have billions more adventures in the skies and seas :)!!

  19. how kewl to see your book somewhere you may never even have been!

    adulthood is SO a myth 🙂

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