The Titanic: ‘Stories Without Lessons’

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  10.12.10 | 2:03 PM ET

The Smart Set’s Morgan Meis shares a few of the stories that continue to, er, surface from the Titanic nearly a century after its sinking, and contemplates the ship’s enduring ability to generate narrative:

It would seem that Titanic was more of a giant floating (and sinking) narrative-machine than a boat. Even today, the basic plotline is difficult to believe. Largest ship ever built, filled to the gills with notable names of the time, sinks on its maiden voyage. It takes a few hours for the boat to go under and about a third of the passengers are saved on the insufficient lifeboats, thereby guaranteeing that so much will have happened in the final hours, and so many will have witnessed it, that the world will talk about it for generations. We have.

The most compelling aspect of Titanic, to me, is the degree to which it multiplies stories without lessons. It is, of course, tempting to draw out a lesson about hubris from Titanic, and many have made the mistake of trying to do so. Here is man, challenging nature and the gods with a vessel that would tame the seas, and with beautiful carved mahogany interiors to boot. This behemoth proclaimed itself invincible, unsinkable, and then promptly went under at the hands of a silent and dumb chunk of ice. If frozen water could laugh, there’d have been some icy chuckling in the North Atlantic that night.

Meis goes on to debunk the hubris narrative. It’s a good read.

(Via The Daily Dish)


Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.


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