Tentacle love. Why?

Last week, there was some great discussion here at Coilhouse about spotting interesting people based on personal style cues. No one trusts a haircut anymore, so everyone’s searching for something more subtle and specific; as Mike Jennings writes in the comments, “for example, anyone wearing jewelry featuring taxidermy supplies is probably going to be someone with whom I can have more than a passing conversation.” In the corporate world, ties can say a lot. If I see a guy or gal wearing a tie like the Cyberoptix one above at a business meeting, I know what’s up. Come to think of it, these days strict power suits can say a lot.

More to the point, I’ve found that one quick, reliable way to figure out if someone is on the same wavelength is to figure out if they’re into squids, octopi and tentacles. I’ve yet to figure out why or how this litmus test works so well, but it does. If someone’s eyes light up when the word “tentacles” is mentioned, chances are they’re my kinda person. Does anyone else find that this is the case? If so, why this, out of all possible things? Maybe it’s because tentacles quickly recall so many different facets of What Made Us Weird; Lovecraft, Japanese culture, a love for all things “alien-looking.” And it’s not like I obsess over tentacles on a daily basis, they’re not my favorite thing in the world, but somehow they’re just so handy in identifying people, like some sort of secret code word we all agreed on in our sleep. Or is it just me? What is about those things?

* Yes, I know that octopi don’t really have tentacles but “arms.”

18 Responses to “Tentacle love. Why?”

  1. el Says:

    maybe it’s the marriage of other worldly and slightly creepy, yet graceful and beautiful, that draws us in. or perhaps, as you say, it recalls images and stories. or maybe it’s both. i’m just glad i’m not alone on this one.

    *i couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the tentacle love,


  2. Sue bamford Says:

    It seems that even when my hair is blonde and I’m wearing a sensible suit I can’t seem to quite ‘pass’ in the mundane world, eventually something happens to out me as ‘weird’. My friend J (an accountant) has the same problem, and between us we now have a phrase to cover that look of horror on people’s faces that happens when they realise we’re a little odder than normal; we say ‘our tentacles must be showing’, as though one has peeled off the human face and revealed something altogether more squiddy underneath

  3. lucylle Says:

    As a tentacle lover (having a whole backpiece tentacle-themed is a bit of a giveaway) , I can only say I’m with you on that… but it’s also the case with many other animals that emphatize alien-looking or exotic aesthetics: moths and scarabs, for instance.

  4. Jim Says:

    Squid, octopi, and tentacles in general are distinctly inhuman. They’re so far outside normal human experience that a lot of people find them creepy to the extent that they’re uncomfortable even talking about squid. You have to figure that anybody who not only isn’t repulsed but is actually intrigued by that sort of, for lack of an actual word, otherness has to have something interesting going on in their brain.

  5. kris_ether Says:

    Yep.. there are certain signals.

    I can spot my kind pretty easily, often it won’t be just the clothes or the hair. It’ll be small things said in conversation about “what it was like to be a kid”. The moment anyone say “Games Workshop” I know I’m either dealing with one of the cool geeks or a boring nerd. Also anything pyramid, ancient Chinese history, mythology, “White Wolf” or an interest in uber science can point them out as possibly also having alternative agendas.

    The reason for this is far too many of the goth crowd (I won’t use the term ‘scene’) I know have trained backgrounds in computers or some biochemistry, chemistry or other related discipline. You just have to put the pieces together. But of course you need these bits of info to put all the window dressing into perspective. Is it all just a bit of dress up of do they actually have deeper reasons for the oddments they wear, carry etc.

  6. kris_ether Says:

    Of course you can always ask the universal question of Fhtagn?!

  7. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Heh. I’ve made this pact with myself to bed any und all people I encounter who give that look of recognition when I utter ze word “Architeuthis”. I assume *that’s* just me.

  8. the daniel Says:

    “No one trusts a haircut anymore” is the most ridiculous thing i have read/heard in a long time.

  9. the daniel Says:

    PS I love my Cyberoptix tie ;)

  10. Skerror Says:

    I remember you posted that Warren Ellis article on here about how we’re all living in a state of “anachronesis” (I forget the spelling). In addition to being totally inhuman and cool…squishy, squiddy tentacled things are very good visual metaphors to gravitate to in dealing with anachronesis. Anything that can control that many limbs/tentacles must have a brain that’s very capable of taking in a lot of information and multi-tasking with it. Plus, cephalopods are blatantly and viscerally organic and ALIVE! It’s sort of like a direct opposition to those cold, rotten tentacled robots in “The Matrix”, “War of the Worlds” and such. Squids have also existed throughout history as a symbol of wisdom…secret societies and shadowhands n’ shit. It’s a good wink and a nudge thing with people as you say. If someone’s a squidist I know they know some shit. They don’t even have to say it.

  11. Paul Komoda Says:

    “No one trusts a haircut anymore” is the most ridiculous thing i have read/heard in a long time.

    But dismally true in my experience.

    As the author of the statement in question, I have to add that I no longer see piercings, tattoos, funny hair colors, shiny black sartorial excesses, or t-shirts featuring cryptic German industrial bands as style cues for potentially interesting people.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still find those elements intensely appealing, but that scene has been breeding some jaw-dropping idiocy over the last ten years.

    But on to the subject of tentacle appeal. I can justifiably argue that I’m one of the only people I know that became permanently fixated with the cephalapoid aesthetic from a very young age.

    It started for me when I was given a record album which retold the story of Disney’s film version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea in a child-friendly manner. The illustration on the cover depicted the Nautilus speeding towards some monstrous, black, writhing apparition in the foreground, I had never seen anything like a giant squid before, and had no frame of reference at that age (3 or 4?).

    Like dinosaurs, cephalopods had been introduced to me as fearsome monsters in films and comic books, which subsequently compelled me to take a life-long interest and to study the biological facts surrounding these strange creatures.

    But why this obsession? For myself, I can say that I find them to be the most extreme representation of what’s truly alien, at least to human sensibilities. They can be a visual metaphor for all that’s unimaginably terrifying and otherworldly, yet conversely, they taste great and look quite nifty dangling at the ends of our utensils (I’m aware that there may be an ethical quandary looming here). Taking it further, some may find, as certain Japanese print artists had, that these creatures could be imbued with an erotic quality as well. I have to also stress that it’s the rows fleshy suction disks, particularly of the octopus, that captured my imagination. The swiveling toothed beads on a squid’s arms are somewhat less appealing, though no less fascinating. One species, the Tanginea Danae sports batteries of cat-like claws instead of discs.

    It also may be the fact that octopus have been noted for their problem solving intelligence, and have been observed to exhibit signs of playfulness and even boredom in captivity. I could go on about the dazzling array of color patterns that any cephalopod can create with the chromatophores in its skin, or the amorphous flowing elegance of a locomoting octopus, but I’ll leave the rhapsodizing for another day.

    So besides the delightful notion that someone else shares an interest in these squishy things, what does this fact otherwise imply? On one level it can be seen as a sly refutation of anthropocentrism which I suppose, hints at the Lovecraftian notion that “homo sap” is far lower on the universal food chain than current canon would decree.

    It would point not only to a perverse sense of humor, but a leaning towards the weirder, more intriguing aspects of science and nature, as opposed to the insipid, starry-eyed optimism that proponents of organized religion and new age thinking extrude from their orifices.

  12. nadyalev Says:

    True, I stole the line “no one trusts a haircut anymore” from my best friend, Paul. Paul, it was a test to see if you read my posts or not. Clearly, you passed. Caught red-handed.

  13. katie cowden Says:

    technically, the plural is octopodes. any other greek nerds in the house? hard to distinguish by haircuts.

  14. My Tentacles Are Showing » Blog Archive » What’s with the Name? Says:

    […] Lavigne generation (”no one trusts a haircut anymore”). In Nadya’s tentacular followup posting, she pointed out one reliable, if more subtle indicator: “If someone’s eyes light up when […]

  15. Tim Says:

    Ooo. Looks like I’ve finally found a real home at last :)

    I think I might pay someone to screen-print ‘TENTACLES’ onto a T-shirt for me. Or down the body of a tie, maybe *grin*.

  16. antipodean Says:

    They are definitely a good indicator of a kindred spirit of taste :) People either get it or they give you a horrified look like you’ve just told them you really like the smell of old men’s farts. Octothings are pretty sexual and to admit liking them in all their writhing flowing fleshy glory makes you look like a pervert to some people, conciously or not.

    But, like black lace and obscure Tshirts, even the wonderful tentacle seems like one of these things doomed to be abused by people trying to appear weird or mysterious or kooky without thinking it through much.

    I remember when skulls were a definite sign of a metalhead, back when metal wasn’t very cool at all and only the poor kids whos’ parents drank too much liked it. Now there’s awful skull-and-crossbones pattern available on every kind of ugly common chav clothing’d person out there. (And every classic goth and even very textbook looking punk gets ’emo’ yelled at them across the road. Sigh.)
    Hopefully tentacles pass under the radar and my dear lovely octopus tattoos are still a signal to the genuine believers in years to come :) *fingers crossed*

  17. filwinn Says:

    it’s definitely not only you … i was actualy wondering where i might find myself some nice tentacle themed ring, something sober and classy :-)

  18. Sofia Says:

    My previously existing love of tentacles has only been deepened by the fact that the love of my life shares my love of cephalopods. as of late my drawings have been infiltrated increasingly by tentacles, as well as my purchases (largely online). I have found some beautiful tentacled art on the internet, from the large painting “100 girls and 100 Octopuses” to small jems of squidly love on cafe press. I’d like to share a few of my findings with my fellow tentacle lovers,

    This Octo-Nymph design will be on the cards I send to my closer friends for the holidays:


    and, this fantastic website…which I have yet to save the funds to purchase anything from yet, but fully intend to…jewlery cast from real octopus tentacles…beautiful and unusual: