Friday, 4 February 2011

Chris Port Blog #79. Uneasy dreams. The Titanic again...

© Chris Port, 2010

Uneasy dreams. The Titanic again. Not Di Caprio and Winslet. Girls see disaster as a backdrop to romance. Lookouts see chick flicks as the foreground to disaster.

The lookout was almost weeping with fury. “I warned you, sir. I warned you. Why didn’t you listen?”

Captain Smith offered him the wheel. “Here. See if you can do any better.”

“Bit bloody late now” said the lookout, dropping the ‘sir’. “We’re not going anywhere. Women, children and rich men to the lifeboats. The poor can stay and drown.”

“At least the children will be saved” said Smith, clutching at a passing straw.

“Sorry” said the lookout. “I did warn you to invest in wireless telegraphy. Plus which, there’s no profit in mercy. Nobody’s coming. That’s the real world for you. They’re just going to die more slowly, and painfully. If you want to be kind, shoot them now. You’ll spare them a miserable death.”

Meanwhile, the ironwork groaned like whale song. The end was scientifically assured now. It was mathematically inevitable, as inexorable as icy water, creeping over bulkheads and swirling through glittering ballrooms.

Do we really have to look forward to another inquiry? It was foreseen. It’s just that people don’t listen. Remember, you were warned.

The Convergence of the Twain
Thomas Hardy, 1912

(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.

© Chris Port, 2010

I saw him once
at a distance.
I saw nothing
in his clothing
or face to sense
his sad offence.
He disturbed me
The flickering
of a crow’s wing
across the sun
is quickly done.
But a sudden
fear is summoned.
There’s an aura
around horror
and our futures
must obscure us.
When I saw him
I saw nothing.
A man planning
his own hanging?
What can you say?
Are you OK?
Time must move on.
I trust I’m wrong.
But with the damned
I never am.

Playscript Extract
Marty Says Goodbye To Bob Ratner
© Marty Gull, Chris Port, 2011

MARTY: Bob. I haven’t got long. So I’ll keep this short. You’re a disaster. An embarrassment to music and theatre. Deluded. Chocolate box. Tooth-rotting. If it was just you, I wouldn’t care. But you’ve destroyed lives. Not just mine. Hers. You put her on a ship of fools. And now, I have to listen to her drown. In the darkness. She had talent. She could have played New York. But now she’ll just play the dives. Ego and ice, ill met by moonlight. Oh the heart is a pump working against an ocean. Tragedy? It’s just water.

BOB: (Smirking) But the band played on, eh?

MARTY: For a while. Until the lifeboats heard their death screams. You wouldn’t even let me throw her a rope. You sneaked it around my neck to save your own rat’s arse. Butchers in charge of children. Jesus. Do I look like a lamb to you? Cut my throat, and I’ll spit blood on your shoes. I choose my animal, and I choose the albatross. Walk into any club now, and they’ll turn their backs on you in disgust. You’re a Flying Dutchman, Bob. But you’re not the worst. The worst are those who knew better. I have a different curse in mind for them. You’re the lucky one. Find Pandora. Goodbye. 

Intertextual References for Teaching

Ship of Fools 

‘The ship of fools is an allegory that has long been a fixture in Western literature and art. The allegory depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious, passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction.’

The Doors - Ship of Fools 

The human race was dyin' out
No one left to scream and shout
People walking on the moon
Smog will get you pretty soon

Everyone was hanging out
Hanging up and hanging down
Hanging in and holding fast
Hope our little world will last

Yeah, along came Mr. Goodtrips
Looking for a new a ship
Come on, people better climb on board
Come on, baby, now we're going home
Ship of fools, ship of fools

The human race was dyin' out
No one left to scream and shout
People walking on the moon
Smog will get you pretty soon
Ship of fools, ship of fools
Ship of fools, ship of fools
Ship of fools, ship of fools

‘The magazine of Christian unrest’

“We're here for people who prefer their religion disorganized.” 

“Current chance of rapture: 76.9%” 

New York

“On the Town” (“New York, New York”) 

Ill Met By Moonlight

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 2, Scene 1

OBERON: Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.

TITANIA: What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence:
I have forsworn his bed and company.

The Flying Dutchman 

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman - Back in Cinemas 2010 - Trailer


Fleetwood Mac - Albatross (1970 UK TV Performance) 

Monty Python - Albatross 

1 comment:

  1. Rearranging The Deckchairs

    'What if the so-called “world class” education systems that have been so painstakingly under construction in countries like the UK and the USA turn out to be very similar to the Titanic?'

    Good to see someone else using this Sisyphean phrase. I've been muttering it for years. Curiously enough, it only seems to date back to 1969. This is the earliest reference I've been able to find:

    One clergyman has been quoted as saying the numerous reforms taking place today are only "shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic."

    December 1969 issue of Time magazine; 29 December 1969, Charleston (WV) Gazette, "Future Role of Church Weighed" by James A Haught, pg. 11, col 1.