How You Found Korrektiv IV

154.5.202 from the city of Surrey on Prince Edward Island went on a search for all he could find on the subject of sharkskin condoms, and lo and behold! – well, my guess is that he found out less than he wanted at Korrektiv. Or perhaps not. Maybe he found more than he ever realized he wanted to know, since that search led him to a couple of posts from April (the cruelest month!) of 2005. The first clue (prompted by the word “sharkskin”) led to an excerpt from Percy’s 1971 novel Love in the Ruins, in which Tom More comes across a group that believes they’ve finally found the ivory billed woodpecker:

“We found him, Tom,” says Colley portentously. “By George,we found him.”


“He’s alive! He’s come back! After all these years!”

“Who?” This morning, hauling up a great unclassified beast of a fish, I thought of Christ coming again at the end of the world and how it is that in every age there is the temptation to see signs of the end and that, even knowing this, there is nevertheless some reason, what with the spirit of the new age being the spirit of watching and waiting, to believe that—

Colley’s right hand strays over the tape deck. The smooth shark skin at the back of his neck is pocked with pits that are as perfectly circular as if they had been punched out with a tiny biscuit cutter.

“Last Sunday at 6: 55 a.m.,” says Colley calmly, “exactly four miles west of Honey Island I—saw—an—ivory-billed—woodpecker.”

And what a beautiful passage this is. Percy, via More, likens the the second coming of Christ to the “hauling up a great unclassified beast of a fish”, and then compounds that sign with the sighting of the famous, long-lost bird. And in the midst of all this, incredibly (this word is supposed to work on at least two different levels), More’s attention is shifted to the very extraordinary, ordinary back of Colley’s neck, “pocked with pits that are as perfectly circular as if they had been punched out with a tiny biscuit cutter.” What a marvelous writer he was, marvelling at so many different things of varying phenomelogical importance, all within the space of a few paragraphs. And delighting in ordinary dialogue of such ordinary, extraordinary characters.

Where was I? Oh yeah – sharkskin condoms.

The second clue, “condoms”, comes up a little later in that same month of archived material with an excerpt from the Rome Diary of Richard John Neuhaus while covering the funeral of John Paul II:

“There is an astonishing progressive love affair with condoms and allowing their use at least in certain rare circumstances related to AIDS. Here, it is thought, some wiggle room might be countenanced by the next pope. The progressive agenda has come down to condoms.”

More or less the typically capital letter K Katholikos stuff we hope you enjoy here at Korrektiv: “There they go; those useful idiots are pushing condoms, again! This time on populations that really don’t know any better!”

But is there really such a thing as a sharkskin condom? I’ve heard of sheepskin condoms, of course (there’s nothing quite like taking a moment to wrap your genitals in sheep guts to enhance your sexual experience), but sharkskin? For real?

Well, maybe not. I did a little googling of my own and discovered that the only other place the two words actually occur together came (works on a couple of levels as well) with the quotation of lyrics by the hip hop group Company Flow. The song is Patriotism (I’ll link to it, but I won’t bother quoting it), and other than coming across as vaguely, if belligerently anti-American, it only confuses me further. El-P, Bigg Jus and Mr. Len have a ways to go before they ever come up with anything close to the description of the back of Colley’s neck, that’s all I’m going to say.

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