Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Titanic World

We saw "Titanic", the movie, in 3D. On an IMAX-3D screen, the third largest in the world, with the height of a seven stories building. The installation had 15000 watts, but I don't know if that is for the projector or the sound system, or both.

"Isn't it ironic that they saved women and children first in an era when they would have been left with no way of sustaining themselves without the male bread winner?" asked Ileana Ruxandra. So my family got to learn about the 1852 Birkenhead disaster. This was an army transport ship that sank off the coast of South Africa, they had more than 600 soldiers onboard plus 7 women and 13 children. They had no time to launch the boats, they didn't have enough anyway. The army recruits followed the orders and stayed in formation on the deck while the ship sank, beneath them. It made sense to save the wives and the children of the soldiers and it became standard maritime procedure shortly thereafter. I learned about this long ago, one of the points of interest for our visit in South Africa is close to where the HMS Birkenhead sank. But that will come in a few months.

Right now, in Melbourne, we are approaching the museum and we see the big poster for the movie. It is the crowning of a week of learning about Titanic as the whole world commemorated 100 years since the disaster. Amazingly, there was a little known writer, Morgan Robertson, who in 1898 wrote "Futility", a short story about a 800-foot ship, called Titan, the biggest in the world and built in such a way that was deemed unsinkable, traveling the North Atlantic sea route between Europe and America. The story is about some rich heiress and an alcoholic guy who saves this little girl and has his arm bitten off by a polar bear, not good writing, but the details of the future ship are astoundingly accurate. The ship hits an iceberg, sinks, and because there aren't enough life boats, most people drown. I read the story. Scary. The Titanic was commissioned 10 years later.

We watched several documentaries on National Geographic and History channel. It seems that finally all the mysteries of Titanic are solved, Ioan and I can answer any questions about it. Briefly, some things we learned:
James Cameron made the movie just so he could get money to explore the wreck; there is mirage on the water similar to the one in the dessert (that's why they couldn't see the iceberg); ships were not supposed to have enough lifeboats for everybody back then (after all the Titanic was unsinkable); the ship was a marvelous accomplishment with no identifiable flaw in design; nobody was at fault for the sinking but the ship would not have sunk if they would have hit the iceberg head-on. Yes, head on. On a plane recently I saw in a magazine that there is a new, out of this world Titanic building recently erected in Belfast, next to the original shipyard. Maybe a future destination for us. They are proud they built the ship: "it was fine when it left us."

What is it about Titanic that fascinated a whole world and it still does a hundred years later? I guess, it was that time. At the beginning of the 20th century people thought that they achieved everything. Scientists were convinced that they know all about the world. Just a couple of details to fill in some blanks, but most everything was already discovered in the 19th century. Plus they had the typewriter, the lawnmower, the automobile, the plane, the phone, the phonograph, the radio and Titanic, an unsinkable ship and the ultimate in luxury and speed. There wasn't much more left, the world was a nice orderly place, the humanity had a general feeling of well being and power.

Fascinating 19th century technology - the typewriter
 It was the world of the British Empire and it all came crushing apart. Just a couple of years after the Titanic the First World War started, then flu epidemics, great depressions, other wars, fascism and communism. Tutsis and evangelists, and on and on. We all know the world we live in now, money rides politicians, they have to be reelected, they got to almost scientific perfection the art of spreading lies, fear and hate. Even the notion of a safe world is now utopian. We can only be safe if we elect them and if they kill the others. Even kindergarden kids joke about "world peace."

We are touring the world of the 21st century and spending a few hours learning about the Titanic makes me wonder how that previous world might have been. We got to taste more of that long gone world by visiting the Royal Exhibition Center. It is still in use for its initial purpose, and, because of that, it is inscribed as a World Heritage Site. It was empty when we visited with a small group of tourists. We saw the huge hallways and old pictures of a couple of world exhibitions from the end of the 19th century. I saw more of that old world in the exquisite Victoria Library. Somehow the library, the exhibition hall, the Titanic and some books read in Sydney, they all connect in my brain during our visit to Melbourne. Ignorance is bliss, they say, yes, the smartest people in that world thought they conquered science and nature. It was that confidence and order that seems to be lost for good. As well as our peace and innocence.
Royal Exhibition Center - World Heritage monument
Interior view

Victoria State Library

They made building like that...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment form message here