10 April 2012

Iceberg, straight ahead!

Regular Languishing readers know that my childhood was full of small-town-ness, and personally I've always been drawn to cemeteries, for some reason. On more than one occassion, Shaun has referred to my childhood as "Little Ghoul on the Prairie."

A large part of that comes, certainly, from my father. He loved country death songs, and sang several heart-breaking melodies to us regularly in the car, on the way to or from home, on trips. By the age of seven, I was obsessed with world records and circus freaks, and by 8, I'd read A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, about the sinking of the Titanic, three times. I traced the names of the survivors, the recovered, and lost at sea long before James Cameron thought of making his fancy movie.

Today is 100 years since Titanic first set sail. In four days, it will be 100 years to the day of the sinking of the Titanic. Imagine a centurian anniversary for something you were fascinated with as a child: it's kind of a big deal, right? I mean, I wanted to name my firstborn child Carpathia, for crying out loud. The sinking of the Titanic was very much like that generation's September 11: it changed the way people thought about ocean travel, it caused widespread spiritual crisis, and was used for all sorts of political purposes by the people in, or struggling to gain, power in our country.

What interested me most about the disaster, thirty years ago and today, were the class distinctions that defined so much of the ship, and the survivors, and so much of American society, one hundred years ago. And today.  Cameron's love story was never very compelling to me. But the microcosm that was the Titanic, and the ways in which our world still plays by those rules, keeps me interested in that mighty ship, and mightier ice berg, and history in general.

And that's all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While on my bed recovering from miniscus surgery I dragged out the several books I have on the titanic and read them thoroughly; always have been enthralled by the whole deal...I even used some of it last Sunday inteaching my Junior High class. My "I" word is "incredible", a word used by my dear California cousin Gerry; a women out of the 60's whom I dearly love. She always tells me to keep dancing...great advice. Gma S.