Category Archives: seafaring

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

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“…for rivers and seas are not to be regarded as disjoining, but as uniting”

From Hegel through Schmitt to Foucault and onwards, there is a way of thinking about sea and land not as inert backdrop but as factors determining politics, history and the transformation of the world. Hegel’s The Philosophy of History is geographically deterministic … Continue reading

Posted in empire, imperialism & colonialism, militaries, ports, readings, seafaring, the sea, war | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The ship as the heterotopia par excellence

How wonderful is it that Foucault considers the ship the perfect heterotopia: Brothels and colonies are two extreme types of heterotopia, and if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that … Continue reading

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