SOUTHERN OCEAN OFF SNARES ISLAND
Allan Sekula asserted some years ago that the sea was no longer available as a metaphor for the sublime, a view itself that now seems out of date. We may be trashing the oceans and asserting our power in undermining pre-modern or romantic conceptions of the sea, but, setting irony aside, never before has awe before nature been such an important stimulus to strategies for our survival. On the high seas one may experience the ocean as primordial—hence Conrad:
"If you would know the age of the earth, look upon the sea in a storm. The grayness of the whole immense surface, the wind furrows upon the faces of the waves, the great masses of foam, tossed about and waving, like matted white locks, give to the sea in a gale an appearance of hoary age …"
Most of the world’s trade is conducted by container ships, blunt instruments of globalism. These vessels are seemingly facing worse storms than hitherto, while island nations like Kiribati—a source of cheap labour for the container trade— contend with inundation. Meanwhile our culture jitters with what David Denby terms the Western Disease: the need to keep moving for fear of seduction by lotus-eaters, a weather eye out, increasingly, for typhoons