The Fucking Titanic

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A selection of testimony from non-survivors

I held my son’s head under the water until he drowned, so that he wouldn’t die alone out there. Also, the screaming is not something you would want a young child to hear. Some people meet death with mild composure, but others make a big production of it. It’s like a singsong in a beer-hall in hell out here. The demons that live in the top of our voices. But I don’t believe in hell. I believe in swift decisions, and the terrible choices we must make for our children. I made mine. My child I did not fail.

*

Some toff shot me when I rushed the boat and I bled to death on deck in seconds flat. I only wanted space made for my wife and child. The boat had space but not for ruffians. My wife and child watched me die. My wife in tears. My child silent, terrified. I haven’t had any news of them since. Have you?

*

I am a philosopher. I try to think about what things mean. I try to assign meaning to things. Everything means something. Everything that is can be assigned a meaning. Meaning is how everything speaks to everything else. Meaning is how we force a confession out of things. Without meaning there is no comprehension, no communication, just silence inside, and chaos in-between. There is silence inside and chaos in-between, but this is called horror or vertigo and cannot be safely approached or admitted, causing madness and suicide, panic and shell-shock and incapacity if it so happens to be.

In the final moments of our life we might feel our consciousness dissolve as we are being readmitted into the blissfully meaningless flow of the world, as we sink away from thought and words and images and sense into the ungraspable, the formless, becoming liquid ourselves again, rejoining the flux indivisible.

Why meaning? Because division. Because we are split. Because we have gained ourselves and lost the cosmos. Because longing. Because helplessness. Because terror and need. Because complexity. Because life at the higher end needs so much protection and a guaranteed energy supply. The baby is born screaming for voices and milk. We look for a nurturing giant who knows how things work, who can explain things, who knows what ‘milk’ is and how to dispense it. The nurturing giant already knows what the baby means by its screams, and chooses how to respond, with love, or perversity. And the more we know the more we want. Longing and knowledge are conjoined. They mutually generate and increase. They are not opposites, as is sometimes claimed.  Everything is known that is wanted to be known. When we cease to long, we cease to know as well.

I am sorry to lecture but I find that it calms. I am tossed by waves with icy shards and my ears are full of wailing. I have a longing for calm. Do you get me?

How cold the water is. How numb and tired my limbs are. How I am running out of energy to breathe. How I wish now that I could not understand what is happening to me. Unconsciousness come now, come now and release me.

While I am waiting erotically for death I think about all the things that would save me from death if they could. Like an ancient god, if I were one of the favored. My dead father, if he were a powerful ghost. The lifeboat passing by over there, if I had had a first class ticket. Death speaks to us in simple tense: Either you are or you are not. But life, at constant risk, prefers the conditional tense. What if? What if I had somehow failed to get on board? What if I had not been born to die? Or my father not been born? What if I were rich, not broke? What if I were a fish? What if I had wings? Everything is down to chance. Everyone is born pregnant with a ghost they can’t get rid off that they must carry to full term. See the lifeboat over there? I hear them praying in their murmurous gratitude. The boats full of people rowing are like centipedes upside down in the water, waving their legs. They think they are saved. But no one is saved. They are all going the same way as I, though they may reach dry land before they drown. Let them. Life is a flailing, however long it lasts, however luxurious.

Meaning tries to fly away from death, but cannot fly. From one doomed skull to another it flees, until the last mind drowns.

*

Where is my mammy gone?

*

No, no, no, I forgive no-one. Not the innocent nor guilty I forgive. Not the high nor the low nor the middling sort I forgive. Everything that lives I hate and blame.

Pageantman! Lady of the brooch and prayerbook! I detest your pious masquerade. How dare you celebrate my agony. How dare you forgive on my behalf the unforgivable.  That you may choke on your prayers for my peaceful repose.  How can you imagine that I am at rest? I died in freezing abandonment. Hypothermia and a heart-attack. My toddler screaming in my ear. Which was the greater pain, the thousand icy daggers ripping into my flesh, or my child’s wailing terror in my heart, my ears? I cannot tell. These are my final moments. I have no others to share. I have no peace, no rest forever.  I wish the same agonies for you, and ten times worse. I wish you into the whirlpool, the hurricane, the tidal-wave, the torpedo-strike, the superbomb. I wish you cancer. I wish you militias. I wish you trampled by horses. I wish you struck by a train. I wish you arthritis of the spine. I wish you a fall onto railings or rocks far beneath. For you I am down in the root of the sea switching the currents round to kick off a superstorm. For you I take lightning into my sea-bitten eyes and cast it into gaps where continents meet, hoping to crack them apart. For you I blow great overturning waves at fishing boats. For you I creep along the inner shore looking for lone swimmers to tug down.

Pageantman! Lady of the brooch and prayerbook! I am your enemy. When I meet you in eternity I will rip you in half.

I can wait. A billion years is the same thing as one where I am. There are ten billion chambers in my flowing tomb and then there are none. In each of ten billion rooms my child screeches for me and in each one she is always alone. I can never find her. When I get there she is gone. Always alone. Let the pageants burn! Let the brass bands be swallowed by a trough. Let moth holes perforate the bunting. Let the wavers on the shoreline wave themselves backwards into a tomb. Let the shipyards disintegrate. Let termites gnaw the magnates in their  sleep. Let barnacles with acid lips eat all the hulks. Let all the fleshly liquify and freeze.

A quality of spinning. A quality of being spun. Who is the captain?  Who is the president now? London will sink and Queenstown be forgot.  Goodbye England. Goodbye USA. Southampton goodnight. You’re joining me soon. Spin within spin. Trough within trough. Sea within sea. Death within death. Drown within drown. Shall I write you a ballad? Death is the tune and the instrument time. And I am the song.  I am the song of disaster. I am the iceberg song. Even the sea itself will drown in time. I in the sea will drown and the sea itself will drown in time.

*

Imagine it is true that when you die a sorrowful death you end up in utopia.

A heaven of more or less your own design.

Imagine you find out the truth about everything and everything makes perfect sense.

Imagine that all is forgiven. No fatigue. No cynics. No guilt. Utter Shamelessness.

Imagine joy and solidarity, and all you love, no disease, no spreading death, nothing ever to fear.

Imagine there nothing is lost, nothing is broken. And all the world’s lost things are found.

And all the broken are remade there.

No human sorrows there. No human desolation.

Where there is no death no pain no longing to escape. No action. Imagine.

Imagine all that forgetting. All that denial. All that repression.

Imagine whom all this bullshit might really be serving.

Imagine.

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Dave Lordan is activist, poet and teacher. He blogs at davelordanwriter.com

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4 Responses

  1. Des Derwin

    July 31, 2012 4:25 pm

    A powerful piece of writing. Of sustained anger. It won’t sink without trace. A bit black, but then so was the sea that night.