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Mer, Mer, Mère

By Yann Queffélec


The sea is my life, our life, the mother's breast of all living things. The sea is my childhood, for one thing. I'm from the abers, in the northwest of the Breizh, the sharp point of the European continent--the Finistère. An aber? This Celtic word means an open lake where stream and ocean meet, fresh water and salt water, twice a day, when the tide rises. In front of my house are the Ponant Islands - Molène, Ouessant, Lityri, Béniquet and many others. Breathe in: the iodine-laden sea air fills your lungs, luminous and stimulating, coming from the most ever-present seaweed in Europe.

As a young man, I wanted to sail around the world. My boat was called Aeleutheria, which means Liberty. But while I've crossed the Atlantic several times, I've given up on going the whole way around. When I'm waiting to return to the sea, I write to it every day, I talk to it of itself, of how I and others like me love it for better or for worse. My writing is pulled in two directions, "half fig and half grape," as the French put it--amazed at the oceanic nature of things, indignant towards he who claims to domesticate that nature, condition it, even deny it.

How long will the sea live? Or the rest of us, creators of the thermo-industrial destruction called "pollution"? The old man has realized, in 2019, that the ocean suffers from a fatal, contagious illness that is man’s own fault. More than earnest wishes, more than alarming reports from scientists, the sea needs vital, worldwide assistance, urgently, to ensure a future with a human face. Tomb or treasure, the sea ? It's up to us to decide what we want – and act now.



Del Innhald