In my house in Darlinghurst there is an infestation of slugs.
They are like a snail without a shell. So they are just this purely vulnerable little worm. When we first encounter them, there is a certain ickiness; a grossness. But upon closer inspection, like the human tongue, there is a cuteness and personality to them, in their curious little antennae, slow blind fingers feeling about in front of them.
They are very secretive creatures. They are nocturnal (at least in our house) and so you don’t see them unless you surprise them. You come out at night for something, a snack and you see them all crawling around, sprung like teenagers in the dark.
And they leave their little trails behind them, so you can see where they’ve been, these little glowing trails.
There’s something metaphorical I think about the slugs and their coming out at night and their vulnerability. Something like: either the house itself and the ghosts of those who have lived here, or more so the experiences of those who have lived here (because these Darlinghurst houses are very old and were built and occupied by the blue collar of a bygone era, pushed out decades ago, first by art-school students and rock’n’rollers, later by the drug scene and finally, ossifyingly, by gentrifiers [like myself] who neither attend art school nor have the sleep appetite for drugs and all night parties and can play guitar but am constitutionally unable to “rock”).
But also I think these slugs represent human dreaming and our thoughts that come out at night, our very vulnerable, curious, exploratory thoughts. And if you look at their little trails and how circular and wandering they are, and how slow, and how they deliberate on each movement and each angle, and also how they sometimes wheel back on themselves, cross pollinate, and uncover a new aspect. It is a lot like the nocturnal machinations of our own minds and the thoughts that come out in the dark to explore their surroundings and their own meaning. They are without the shell, without the executive control, and they are just pure vulnerability, and feeling, and expression, and knowledge about oneself perhaps.
As an epilogue. Later, in our pantry, I discovered this enormous, enormous slug. It was the Prometheus of these slugs, a titan of slugs. If I didn’t know better, and was judging it purely on the Alien series, I would assume it was the queen progenitor of all slugs in Darlinghurst it was that big, as thick as two of my fingers and as long as my hand. It was ready to burst it was so big.
It was hiding in the deepest recess of the kitchen, at the back of the pantry. I suppose it was the embodiment of all the darkest deepest animal repressed ideas - in amongst the bags of rice and flour.
The strange thing was, that this big powerful slug, the King of all the slugs, seemed the most ashamed, the most embarrassed and it wanted to hide in its corner, when all its children and brothers and sisters were out exploring the world in an innocent Bambi-like manner, it was the one that shut itself away, even from the other slugs. A hidden thought within a hidden thought. Even in this secret space it needed to hide. It was interesting that as a ratio of the subliminal mind, such a huge continent of it was this dark dark thing that felt so terrible it needed to hide even in the midst of secrecy.
Its a theme you see over and over in Middle Ages and Renaissance art: a dark half, a submerged other self.