OOZING OVER CRUISING
ROBERT J. LEWIS
defrost, in a romantic mist
Let’s get crossed, off everybody’s list.
When your arm is
in the water, you are part of it;
when you pull it out, there is no trace of you left behind.
Cruising -- an electric glide in blue, an eclectic ride for the
few, a hootenanny on the bounty where man and state-of-the-art
everything meet at rainbow’s bend, where dissimilarity and
disparity are dissolved in round the clock embibing and feasting.
The winner’s circle is as wide as the cruiser’s city-like
circumference: its membership includes the moneyed, and from all
walks of life a hefty contingent of latter day secularists --
the god-leery -- who, suspicious of their spiritual indices, come
to view the cruise as a personalized Zen retreat that seamlessly
synonymizes self-actualization and self-gratification.
safe harbour is founded on three ontical invariables: the vessel,
the mother of all floats, is the hardware; the software is the
programmed excess; want and desire furnish the circuitry. The
experience appeals as a temporary stay against dystopia by investing
the Garden of Eden simulacrum with flesh and blood – code
for fabulous everything -- attracting passengers whose election
and self-esteem, like water and wave, constitute a single revelation.
Money is virtually unnecessary, with everything paid for up front
ship, which does not concern itself with commercial transport,
is a self-contained alternative world that produces nothing of
its own except the cycle of appetite and satiation. Using the
premise of adventure as a foil, it drops anchor at the world’s
great port cities to resupply and especially relieve the float
of its accumulated waste tonnage, while the excited passenger,
having braved the feral and formless seas for days on end, locks
onto land like the pioneer of old in the throes of discovery,
where he can indulge in the quotidian for" a day in the life
of" before returning to the grind of balancing his ever increasing
appetite with the body’s finite capacities. And if he should
succumb to dyspepsia or the heaves, the sea is the mother of all
caters to the recovery of man’s latent capacity for civilized
behaviour. Since relations in the real world are often frayed
at best, and bellicose at worst, cruisers, for whom want and satisfaction
are as easily done as inhaling and exhaling, take to deck chairs
in order to discover what is benign in their natures which they
conveniently mistake for their true nature. Under the spell of
uninterrupted satiation, envy is allowed to take a breather for
as long as the cruise lasts, which facilitates the surreal Marxist-like
commingling of the very rich and the barely rich who share the
same public spaces as the not so rich.
more important than the cruise’s concentration of abundance
which can be replicated on land is the vast backdrop of the sea.
“In landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless,
indefinite as God,” writes the author of Moby Dick, whose
lyricism did for the oceans what Wordsworth did for land. Like
an island, the cruise is surrounded by water -- its halo or spirit,
if you will -- but with the added virtue of being itinerant. If
man has ravaged and plundered the good earth, he is drawn to the
floating island of the cruise ship because the sea is inviolable.
It can’t be built on, dug up, reshaped according to man’s
will. The sea relieves the passenger of the heavy burden of his
history and even time itself for there are no markings, no apparent
graves, no older waves, no monuments to victory and defeat. When
he looks out everything becomes possible again, all directions
are equally valid.
land life, the cruiser is constantly reminded of his baser self,
which the cruising project suspends, signing up is tantamount
to checking into a paradisiacal rehab centre where he can be temporarily
cured of his nature. In the constant environment of surfeit and
leisure, his social and gentle sides are lulled into action as
if by the easy pitch of the ship. If it weren’t for the
continuous distraction of over supply, on a clear day at sea he
might accuse himself of wishing himself back to the womb, to a
pre-lapsarian world where everything is provided for and absolutely
nothing asked of the mind which conveniently shuts down, the pleasure
of which is not to be discounted and may account for
Freud’s claim that we all
subconsciously harbour a death wish.
man can not alter the sea in any significant way, the cruiser
can rest easy his competitive, ambitious side because being able
to indulge in a cruise is already an ambition realized. In the
absence of future projects that require land for their conception
and consummation, sunrises and sunsets take on greater importance
as the erstwhile driven citizen of the world begins to wax poetic
about what really matters in life. In between cocktails and prawns,
he suddenly finds himself surfing the waves of metaphysics, asking
the largest questions of himself, which give him new found reasons
to like what he sees evolving into a more complete human being.
the growing popularity of cruising, the forward-looking are already
asking: where to, what next? I, for one, won’t be surprised
that if man survives his nature – that is learns to rewrite
his genetic code before he self-annihilates -- space cruising
will be de rigeur. In this brave new world, mini-worlds,
with the means to reproduce their wants onboard, will leave the
good earth as easily as we leave our garages in the morning; and
with resupply a non-issue and the universe serving as a waste
dump, there will be no compelling reason to return. Perhaps just
then, I’ll be among the many lining up to purchase my ticket
to ride. First port of call: the dark side of the moon.