Category Archives: seafaring

About Today: Steaming the security seas

10 February 2015 Everything anticipated our entry into what I can only call security seas. There are ships that do not send signals: they turn out to be warships of a sort, small, compact, going only at 7 knots with … Continue reading

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A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes: The factory at sea

9 February 2015 20.00 “Going forward and glancing over the weather bow, [… the] prospect was unlimited, but exceedingly monotonous and forbidding; not the slightest variety that I could see.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick For the next few days, we … Continue reading

Posted in Allan Sekula, capital accumulation, labour, literature, Melville, Middle East, political economy, readings, seafaring, shipping conditions, transport, Travels | Leave a comment

Stand-Up Beer Hall

Stand-Up Beer Hall Walter Benjamin Sailors seldom come ashore ; service on the high seas is a holiday by comparison with the labour in harbours, where loading and unloading must often be done day and night. When a gang is then given a … Continue reading

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Pirates Pirates Pirates

They are EVERYWHERE!  Here is Michael Dirda writing about campy pirates: Many [film pirates] are also distinctly camp. The first pirate most of us encounter is Captain Hook, who, as played by Cyril Ritchard in the Mary Martin version of Peter … Continue reading

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By the Sea

A truly beautiful book, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea is full of quiet insight about leaving home, about families, about illegal immigration, and about malice.  It has a brilliant humour.  Here is a bit about  a madrasa, a chuoni on the … Continue reading

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The docks as a non-place

Francisco Goldman and Jean-Claude Izzo speak to each other through their respective novels, The Ordinary Seaman and The Lost Sailors.  Both are stories about waiting in the docks, literally, in a floating metal tub full of holes.  Both tell stories within stories … Continue reading

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Rime of mariners ancient or modern

I think I read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner some years ago when i was young, but like a great many great works of literature, it is a poem that is wasted on the youth.  Its sense of regret, loss, … Continue reading

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A love story far from the sea

This beautiful little love story has some extraordinary bits about the Syrian revolution, the subsequent civil war(s), love, families, sectarian sentiments, and the sea: On the second day of Ramadan, I come home from work to find Jesus, Maalik, and … Continue reading

Posted in Middle East, ports, readings, seafaring, the sea, war | 4 Comments

“A foretaste of annihilation”

Joseph Conrad’s The Shadow Line is an odd novella.  A ghost story, a beautifully symmetrical tale, a strange little fable, or a metaphor for the First World War (as Wikipedia seems to say)? A young man is given command of  his first … Continue reading

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“no sailor’s card”

Imagine a trans-textual “proletarian” protagonist, one that has travelled the world, gets stuck into adventures aboard ships and on land, and has a laconic easy sarcasm and a way with words.  A kind of working class Marlowe with a better … Continue reading

Posted in bureacuracy, labour, literature, ports, readings, seafaring, shipping conditions, ships, the sea | Tagged | Leave a comment