Discover more from The Daily Kina
Ozymandias Insists On Building Castles In the Surf
Look upon my works ye mighty etc
Kina, like a marauding barbarian, derives great pleasure from chaos and dismantling empires. Because she is small and commands no real army, however, this predilection for destruction finds its most fulfilling expression at the beach, where Kina enjoys watching sand castles fall apart.
Unlike most children, who appear to enjoy building sand castles and protecting them from the elements, Kina instead asks me to do the work of building up a rampart near our spot on the beach; she has me run back and forth to the shoreline, carrying buckets of water so that I can empty them into the dry sand and load the packed beach back into those same buckets, casting rugged turrets that I then lay out in well-spaced formations to defend us from toddlers and childless twenty-somethings.
And then, silently, Kina smooshes them all. She walks the length of the castle and presses her foot into the top of each tower until it collapses into grainy clumps. Sometimes, she drags herself along the wreckage to smooth out any record of the castle that once stood in that place. Unlike Ozymandias, Kina has no intention of leaving a monument to her power; her rule is best remembered not by its architecture, but by the wake of its intentional erasure.
This isn’t especially tragic for me. I have become accustomed to it. In fact, I like to raise the sense of enormity by waxing lyrical about the sturdy construction of the palace—its smooth walls and generous proportions. “This may yet be my finest work,” I say, as Kina looks on from the blanket behind me. “No stronger castle can be found throughout the kingdom,” I boast. When Kina ultimately strolls right through it without a care in the world, I moan and gnash my teeth, proven wrong once again.
All of this changed yesterday, when Kina decided she wanted to scoop sand herself to build her own sturdy and generous towers—right at the water’s edge. I offered, instead, that maybe the best castle-building material could be found a few feet up from the surf, but Kina was intent. We pulled a few buckets of dry sand from above the high tide line down to where the beach was thick and half-fluid. As we mixed the coastal slush with some of the dry sand, it combined to form a durable mortar—the resulting towers were dark and heavy. Kina inverted the bucket over and over at the line of foam left by the last large wave, standing back each time for a moment to appreciate her work, and then to watch it crumble into the ocean, peacefully watching her castles dissolve.
When we were in Maine, I spent hours laying out complex spirals on the clay beaches near our home, so that Kina could run along their loops from the coast to the rocks. I’d drag my toe along the path of the design, digging it deeper and deeper to keep it from disappearing, but the shallow beaches of southern Maine carry the tide all the way up to the boulders at the base of the road, and by high tide, it is like we were never there at all.
As you might imagine, I find some parallels with this publication. As a barely-reformed blogger, I have thought a lot about the resilience of modern writing, and how easy it is for thought to vanish. You miss one hosting bill, and everything you’ve written on those servers simply disappears. If we were all suddenly to go extinct, generated power would not be far behind, stranding much of contemporary human knowledge in slowly-degrading magnetic media within a few hours. Sorry to be a bummer.
In any case, this is why I think it’s peachy that The Daily Kina is produced by hand on our dining table every morning. It feels resilient, because it is a legible thing that exists in space (or, more specifically, in an archival box); its survival doesn’t cost money, requires no careful tending. But that resilience is an illusion. The Daily Kina is drawn on paper, and I think all the time about how quickly the archives of this esteemed institution would vanish if our home were to catch fire. It is also, hilariously and conveniently, drawn in Crayola Broad-Point Washable Markers; I learned early on that a smudge of ink on the side of my hand could be easily cleaned off under the faucet. The Daily Kina is designed to simply wash away in clear water. Like a sand castle.
All of this is to say that Kina and I have different relationships to our legacy and memory. For her part, Kina is fascinated by the million little ways in which something can fall apart. I, by contrast, try something new every day to hold it all together. The product of that something new gets put into a box high on Kina’s shelf, like a message in a bottle, and I pray that it is protected from fire, rain, and the tides. As the water rises, I hope that the letter someday reaches its curious recipient, who tonight is sleeping just a few feet away, dreaming of sand castles, and of the ever-advancing ocean.
Hey, today’s Parade is the aforementioned ever-advancing ocean! Kina drew the beach, and Laurea drew the water. I left the writing in the sand, as I am wont to do.