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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

She's Going Down!!!

Now, I came across this back when I was in Hawaii, I think. It was quirky, in that it's message seemed to be one of realism housed in a rather comic framework. Well, when I say I comic, I obviously mean for the people like me to whom this is just another accident.


Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?

To go down... We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!

And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be the books and movies
to remind our grandchildren who we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.

Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anaesthetic and very quick.
The cries on all sides must be a comfort.

We all go: only a few, first-class.

- David R. Slavitt

One of the things that struck me when reading this poem was its use of structure. For example, the second line of the second stanza beginning with the word "alone" has a sarcastic effect the way the line before it ends. And the fact that he talks about this accident spawning "books and movies" to remind future generations and to "give them a good cry" was something I found funny. However, and rather unfortunately, he was right.

I remember when the movie came out, the one starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and the first time that they were showing it to us at Kodai school...he he he. Well, as it so happened, it was being shown on a Sunday afternoon during the usual senior movie time that we seniors liked...for several reasons than just the movie, mind you. In fact, it was the senior movie that day, and Singye and I were late. What were we doing? We had just gotten back from Mrs. Kumar's "Advisee Treat" lunch, where we watched the original version of Psycho and pigged out on some excellent home-cooked food. Come to think of it, we may have gotten back a bit later than planned thanks to some untimely, but rather necessary extracurricular activities...but I digress, as usual.

We got to the "mini theater" on the ground floor of the Computer Block, and sure enough, the movie had started so there were no lights on. For whatever reason, and not realizing that there may be others there to watch this KIS premiere of what would soon become an epic, I entered with an, "Oh my God! It's sinking. IT'S SINKING!"

No sooner had these words escaped my mouth, or rather, no sooner were they said in loud, mock exclamation, I was the victim of a deluge of hisses aimed at shutting me up. When I looked around me in the darkness, I could make out the outlines of people's faces...and I realized that there were more important people there than just my fellow senior class folk. Yes, there were teachers and their families too. It was a typical "house full" situation as is often the case with a first-day-first-show movie. If there was any hype surrounding the movie, then I'd missed it being in "the high, misty hills of Kodaikanal". More importantly, no one had the time to reprimand me because the movie was so engrossing. In fact, when I walked in and did the unthinkable, the scene they were showing was of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) winning a couple of tickets so that he could travel on the Titanic. To me, possibly because of the kind of person I am, it didn't interest me to know what happened except of course if that involved the manner in which the ship actually sank. For this, unfortunately, I'd have to shut the hell up and wait till the end.

It wasn't a bad movie, though, and I'm not afraid to say. Yet, for reasons beyond my imagination this heart-wrenching tearjerker would haunt me and others like me for the next whole year. And if you thought you could get away from the movie, then you were in for the rudest of rude shocks a la Celine Dion. It wasn't bad enough for the "heart to go on", but for the song to go on and on, again and again was a slow death. No wait. It was a slow near-death. And it still hurts. No offence to Celine and her lovely song, which would have remained that way had it not been for members of the public who kept requesting it every second of every minute of every day, both on the radio as well as on the request shows on the TV music channels.

As if this ruthless assault on the senses was not enough, I became familiar with another phenomenon. I call it the I-can't-stop-crying-even-though-I've-seen-it-a-million-times effect...or maybe it's a syndrome. I mean come on, even I've cried at the end of a couple of movies. But that was usually the first time I watched it, or if it was the second time that I watched it and cried it was because I had something else on my mind. Or maybe because it just seemed to appeal to my emotional side the second time around. But I don't think it would be possible for me to watch a movie and cry the tenth time watching it, if I cried, I'd probably want to concuss myself or to run down the street screaming obscenities as I tore my clothes off...or something. Oh man, that was a tough one to understand. Come to think of it, and in spite of my shedding a tear/tears at the end of movies like Riding in Cars With Boys, The Terminal and King Kong, I still don't undertand this.

But what of the sinking itself eh? And what about the amount of research and time and effort that's gone into resurrecting this behemoth of the seas? Why?...but I tend to ask this all the time. So let me try again by asking, what do we get from remembering something like this, apart from learning from the mistakes of engineers who used steel with a high amount of sulfur in it, or whatever? What are we holding on to? What is it that gives accidents like this, or the Hindenburg, an indelible quality when it comes to the human mind? Well...what is it?

And for those of you who got here because you were curious as to who she was and why she was going down...come on. No seriously, come on, what were you hoping to find? You know what? I don't want to know...!
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