A New Blog and the Anniversary of the Titanic
History seems to have a way of repeating itself for me. To date, this is the third traditional-style blog that I've started. One I did a long time ago in my undergrad and it was basically just me rambling on and on about the unimportant miscellany that concerns a 20 year old cynic. I suppose I've still got some of the cynicism, but it's considerably softened over time. My second blog, well that lasted maybe a week or so before I got bored. Blogs seem to sink when you set unreasonable goals for yourself and lack the motivation necessary to continue. I post once in awhile on Tumblr, but mostly just about Mad Men or Audrey Hepburn/Marilyn Monroe. I feel a lot more motivated to write these days and so I'm relatively optimistic about this one. Currently, I'll shoot for once a week (Sundays/Mondays) with vacations and illnesses being the only possible exceptions.
And now onto the second half.
Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. To celebrate, I watched half of a special on the History Channel. Not much, I know. I can't even remember the last time I watched the James Cameron movie. For as long as I can remember, I've had an obsession with the Titanic. I'm like a Titanic hipster. Even when the epic, multi-million dollar film was released in 1997, (I was fourteen at the time) I was well versed in Titanic lore. I knew that the ship's captain was E.J. Smith and that it was to be his last voyage. The ship was designed by Thomas Andrews. The owner was J. Bruce Ismay who posed as a woman to board a lifeboat. Isidor Straus was on board, a co-owner of Macy's. The richest man on board was John Jacob Astor, a member of the Astor business family. They were pretty big back in their time. Astoria, Oregon was named by them. You've got to figure you're doing well if you get to pick the name of your own town. Those facts are just the surface of my knowledge of the Titanic. Somewhere tucked away in a tube at my parents' house is a poster of the wreck of the Titanic signed by Robert Ballard, the man responsible for discovering the wreck in the 1980s. My gracious aunt knew how much I liked the Titanic and she picked it up for me. Apparently her company did some work with Ballard.
What interests me about my obsession, as well as the obsession of many, many other people, with the Titanic has to do with respecting the dead. Is it disrespectful for us to explore the wreck? Is it in bad taste to have museum displays dedicated to it? I have a pen that's got the prow of the Titanic on the back end. I like it, but it's a little tacky. I quite enjoy Titanic memorabilia. People sometimes compare the impact of the ship to 9/11. I would never collect 9/11 memorabilia. It's too recent. Too personal. I can connect with it so much more than the Titanic. I still think it's mostly in bad taste to make 9/11 films, although Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was a good movie. It must have something to do with time, I suppose. But still, I'd also feel a little uncomfortable with Pearl Harbor memorabilia. It must have something to do with not only the passage of time, but also knowing people who lived through it. I will never meet anyone directly impacted by the sinking of the Titanic.
Out of all the incarnations commemorating the Titanic, I think Thomas Hardy did it best in the following poem. Enjoy!
The Convergence of the Twain
BY THOMAS HARDY
(Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")
In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
Steel chambers, late the pyres
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.
Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.
Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.
Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" ...
Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything
Prepared a sinister mate
For her — so gaily great —
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,
Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.