An Ocean of Memories

3 Oct

            So, the second time I saw Titanic, there was this row of younger girls behind me, and for every second the very first image of Jack Dawson appears briefly in flashback there was a chorus of “awww”s and “ooohhh”s and other girly swooning type noises. And then as the image left, they were silent again, and I forgot about them for the rest of the film. But I always remember them every time I watch that moment.
            Last night I watched it for the first time in 4 years or so, I think, with Sarah and (later on) Tessa. It’s been awhile…but I can still smell the fresh paint…er…I mean, I can still quote it. Titanic is one of those mysterious cultural phenomenon that nobody can really explain. It’s a good movie, sure, but there are lots of those that aren’t phenomenon, that don’t break every box office record, that don’t win 11 academy awards, and that people don’t forever imitate. Why this one? Why the legacy?
            I remember being little and finding an old National Geographic magazine with pictures of the wreck and being fascinated by them, and learning the story of the “unsinkable ship that sank.”
            I remember being caught up in the whirlwind surrounding the movie, and being fascinated by all the new information that came to the surface about the actual ship at the same time. There has always been, and probably always will be, an affinity for the story, not just in me, but in the culture. It’s important, obviously, or the story wouldn’t be so popular, wouldn’t be so affecting. But why?
            Just a small amount of indulgence to my fascination leads to the discovery of just how much is known about what happened, and when, and how, on the night of April 14, 1912. We know when each lifeboat was (or wasn’t) launched, with how many people, and who they were. We know how many ice warnings had been recieved by the Titanic, and when and from whom. We know that the lookouts didn’t have binoculars because they had been misplaced somewhere around Southampton. We know that it was a very calm still night, making it harder to spot icebergs. We know that Thomas Andrews, the designer of the ship and managing director of the shipyard that built her, originally planned to have enuff lifeboats on board, and originally planned to make the watertight compartments higher.

Now, I will remind you just as I reminded him these are my ships. And, according to our contract, I have final say on the design. I’ll not have so many little boats, as you call them, cluttering up my decks and putting fear into my passengers.”
~ J. Bruce Ismay, Director of the White Star Line

We know that he was over-ruled, and we know that the press aided in creating hype that caused people to genuinely believe the ship to be unsinkable. We know that if the ship had hit the iceberg at any different angle, even head on, it would either not have sunk, or not sunk as quickly, perhaps allowing the Carpathia to rescue it in time. We know that there was at least one ship, the Californian, which was close enuff to rescue the Titanic, and could see her flares, but didn’t help for various reasons. In other words, we know that the disaster didn’t have to happen. 15,00 people could have been saved.

”I still think about the ‘might have beens’ about the Titanic, that’s what stirs me more then anything else. Things that happened that wouldn’t have happened if only one thing had gone better for her. If only, so many if onlys. If only she had enough lifeboats. If only the watertight compartments had been higher. If only she had paid attention to the ice that night. If only the Californian did come. The ‘if only’ kept coming up again and again and that makes the ship more then the experience of studying a disaster. It becomes a haunting experience to me, it’s the haunting experience of ‘if only’.”
~ Walter Lord, Titanic historian and author

            The other conclusion that could be drawn from those facts is the opposite side of the coin. The disaster absolutely had to happen. Those people had to die, the “unsinkable” ship had to be thot of as such, and it had to sink. It was fated. There are too many coincidences, too many little things seemingly happening and adding up to something much larger to believe that it could have been prevented.

”I know this isn’t scientific, but this ship’s warning me she’s gonna die and take a lot of people with her.”
-Thomas Andrews, Managing Director of Harland and Wolff Shipyards

”My mother had a premonition from the very word ‘GO.’ She knew there was something to be afraid of and the only thing that she felt strongly about was that to say a ship was unsinkable was flying in the face of God. Those were her words.”
~ Eva Hart, Titanic Survivor

            English writer Morgan Robertson wrote Futility, an imaginary account of a collision between a large trans-Atlantic oceanliner and an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York. He called his ship the Titan. The Titan was 800 feet and the Titanic was around 800 feet too. The Titan also didn’t have enough lifeboats. Robertson published his book in 1898–14 years before the Titanic sank. Robertson later wrote a book, Beyond the Spectrum, that described a future war fought with aircraft that carried “sun bombs”. Incredibly powerful, one bomb could destroy a city, erupting in a flash of light that blinds all who look at it. The war begins in December, started by the Japanese with a sneak attack on Hawaii. . . . (Most quotes and info taken from http://www.webtitanic.net) So why does all this fascinate me so much? Why would I say something so awful as that those people had to die? Why would such a disaster be fated to happen? What would make it necessary?
            I’m glad you asked. And if you’ve even read this far, I’m impressed enuff and you can stop unless you actually care. The answer I’m going to give relates to my beliefs on how the future is created, and how patterns of little events are used to manifest larger ones. In other words, the story of the Titanic is used as a metaphor for the story of the planet. After all, planet Earth can’t founder, right? Stories are told, come true, and are told again, and come true again, etc. and the cycle continually repeats with minor to major variations. The story of the Titanic is the story of Atlantis, and is the story of our future. A world is created. It is the pinnacle of world creation, be it Atlantis, or Titanic. This world is seen as the final step, as unsinkable, as paradise. This world is destroyed, and most of its inhabitants with it. There are survivors however, and that’s important, because they go and create a new world which learns from past mistakes. Boats are not allowed to have fewer lifeboats than necessary now. Watertight compartments are designed differently now. Ships do not sink when they hit icebergs now. But what does that mean for the rest of us? Well, a pattern has been created for this story – a world is destroyed, and a few survivors rebuild a better one – to continue happening. It’s a common story, told in a lot of different places, in a lot of different ways. Noah’s ark is another example, itself besed on a deluge story from Canaanite culture. It’s in the New Testament as well, in Apocalypse, or you could just look in “The Last Battle” from The Chronicles of Narnia. Another key element of this story is that most people won’t believe it is possible until it is too late.

”There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.”
~ Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice-President

”I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern ship building has gone beyond that.”
-Captain Smith, Commander of Titanic

“Your overconfidence is your weakness.” And yet there will be some people who know the truth, even if they don’t realize it. It is fated, it has to happen. There are other invisible forces involved that we don’t take into account.

”When day broke, I saw the ice I had steamed through during the night. I shuddered, and could only think that some other hand than mine was on that helm during the night.”
~ Captain Arthur H. Rostron, Commander of Carpathia

“They were all weeping—in all states of dress and undress. Everyone was frightened—no one knew what would happen to them. But I was never scared. I was only excited. I never for one minute thought we would die.” Ruth, 12 at the time, Titanic survivor

            Of course, I could be entirely wrong. It is this possibility tho, the notion that our world will soon undergo some sort of Titanic Disaster yeilding a few survivors (myself included, of course….) and will then be rebuilt properly, that is the cause of my fascination. I believe that it has been ever since I first saw those glossy photos in a magazine. At the very least, it’s a good excuse for spending so long on this lengthy journal entry.

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