Friday, September 03, 2004

My Old Man and the Sea

Currently reading a story joint-authored by father and son as they sail 17,000 miles around Cape Horn in a self-built 25-foot Vertue. As has happened before, it's a good story despite the laudatory cover blurb by one ridiculously smug, ferociously illiterate William F. Buckley Jr.

Some sample passages:

"Up early, I am conscious that we have a great secret on board. This small vessel is preparing for the roaring Forties and Cape Horn. We don't need a terrified family. They believe we will pass through the Strait of Magellan, which (they don't know this) is actually worse." (37)

"Getting around below is like tree climbing--you need to have three points of your body secured at once, and even the cat makes dashes only to places where he can get wedged in. I share my lunch with him--Dad's feeling lousy and not eating. He has the watch now, and he's on deck, shouting commands. This seems to cheer him on these gray days when we sail three miles to make less than two in the direction we really want to go. "On the foredeck, look sharp there! Aloft, ready to wear shit--main braces--HAUL!" Then down to me, "You've got to learn how to give orders to this scurvy bunch, Dan." He's been on watch too long; it's my turn.
The high point of today was poking a hole in Dad's can of cola so it dribbled down his chest when he drank it. The low point was he didn't notice. Well, he finally did and we laughed hysterically for a half hour. I suppose this proves that there isn't much entertainment out here...
Took departure today, in the Conradian sense, and then we celebrated Halloween with a double candy ration. The candy is the yellow, orange, and white corn candy that Julia sent to Balboa for our Halloween. We're rationed to three peices each per day. The party never really took off, but we all came in costume. I was a pirate, wearing a bandana with a knife held between my teeth. Dad drew an arched black cat body on a piece of paper and put Tiger's head through a hole in it. His costume seemed to be that he was holding the cat, but he told me to notice that he was holding a fork upright and that made him Poseidon."

--Hayes and Hayes, _My Old Man and the Sea_ 80-81

There are also some more adventurous parts.

Hard to read, though, while listening to the news. A feeling of helplessness and habitual ennui of course directed at those knee-jerking with jingos and sandbox taunts and mob applause to a slightly different but ultimately similar helplessness. Norte Americanos and their stupidity complexes--that which Michael Moore subverts at the same time that he re-introduces it tenfold (the mighty backlash). Ulrich Beck writes about a "risk society," but the danger in any such conception is a normalization of risk. On the other hand, the world human toll from wars is arguable the lowest it's been in a century, so maybe Kant is right--war is becoming obsolete.

Hardly, she whispers.

But these mantras--the end of violence, the end of war, the end of Communism, the end of History -- the chanting of these neo-Hegelian, (neoconservative and neoliberal) slogans--their deliberately slow and logical, clear and simple and thoroughly zombied, self-entranced rhythms--betray their own fragility, as Derrida says. Neurosis and desperation. A self-herding crowd of lemmings where everyone is preaching to their fantasy double, to a projection of their idealized image--an unacknowledged firewall against the conscience and subconscious, the grotesque underbelly, the damned side, jouissance, surplus. In other words, a crowd in serious denial. The language of an addict. A self-fulfilling prophesy. Paranoia. Surpressing and suffocating risk is finally the greatest risk, is what creates a "finally" at all. Warring on, error upon error. Bipolar times.
Glib diagnosis is part of it too. I would prefer not to.

"And the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams." --Christopher Combokus

You can think of some other things the sea grants, but the word has long since been banished from every lexicon and replaced by error.,, complete with essays on "deconstructionism" and links to David Keresh. whoa. And I'm about to watch--for purely sociological reasons--"Passion of the Palestinian-Slaughtered Pulpating Christ," so you see how my subconscious is working.

I must have temporarily lost my earing.

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