Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where we will, we'll roam...

More mileage out of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End .

Cabin Boy: [sung] The King and his men stole the Queen from her bed and bound her in her bones. The sea be ours and by the powers, where we will, we'll roam.
[joined by other prisoners]
Cabin Boy: Yo ho, all together, hoist the colors high. Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die.

The ocean and ocean-travel has, by and large, lost its romance. The vessels that plough it are, by and large, and especially if the said vessels qualify as 'large', made of steel, fiberglass, concrete—concrete, for f^@&'s sake!—and other similarly lifeless substances, painted with extremely poisonous anti-fouling paint, powered by some hi-tech machinery or maybe equally even-higher-tech sails. A ship a few hundred meters long may have a crew of a dozen; with the remainder being run by computers. Getting lost at sea is rarely an option, what with GPS now in the hands of just about everybody and microchipped into everything and sundry, including your buttocks possibly. Storms are bad seas are still a danger, but the big ships generally don't bat an eyelid at much of this kind of inconvenience, what with stabilizers and other anti-roll devices and whatever-have-you. Besides, they usually know where and when the crap hits, and simply try to skirt the calamities that once battered and sank valiant sailing ships. About the only thing that can knock these suckers out is the occasional freak wave, generated by chaotic processes that nobody can foretell.

Smaller vessels are similarly hi-tech, though their size makes them inherently vulnerable. The vulgar rich have 'yachts', of course. To call these abominations 'ships' and to call what they do 'sailing' are semantic offenses of a major nature. Pirates alluded to this in a throwaway line—like many other gems of throwaway lines—and to the fact that the 'freedom of the seas', dangerous as it was, is a thing of an already-distant past. That's partially because there is no 'freedom of the land' either. No 'Tortuga', no 'Pirates' Cove' (I think that's what it was called, correct me if I'm wrong), no place for a ship to come to shore; as all ships must, except for the Flying Dutchman, who can't.

In other words, there is no home for the wanderers of the sea' nowhere they don't have to show some damn passport, or have themselves inspected or are being ripped off by local 'authorities'. Nowhere to haul the wooden ship up on a beach, chop down a few handy trees and set the carpenters to work to restore the hull, while the rest of the crew scrapes off the fouling and sews the sails and finds water for the voyage ahead.

I think that if I had a few billion dollars, I'd go out and buy an island—if that's at all still possible, and outside any jurisdiction, and preferably won't be drowned by the rising seas within a few hundred years (for I intend to be around that long!)—and make it a haven for those who need such a haven. Throw the tourists off. No pansy 'yacht' owners allowed unless they pay a very steep fee, while the rest are just expected to render services on a tit-for-tat basis. Nothing is free after all. I expect there to be a lively but basically lawless peddling and 'service' community.

Protect the island with a tough bunch of
f^@&rs, who will take take of any seriously nasty elements sure to come our way with anything that does the job, from 50mm machine guns to katana. Maybe some renegade ex-Delta guys, or someone of that caliber. Give the concept of 'free trade zone' a completely new meaning. Screw the likes of the UAE, who are just a bunch of affluent effluents, and who basically represent everything a decent, even non-piratical, roamer-of-the-sea despises.

Ahh, yes, give the roamers of the seas a home. At least for time, for it will not last; not even if we had an island. Or maybe we'd start a new trend. Who knows? Is there any hope?


This is, of course, the essence of the life of the pirate or buccaneer. Not necessarily an absolute freedom of some sort, for there cannot be such a thing. But it is a freedom from the ever-present interference of governments and others who would 'regulate' life and make it conform to whatever standard happens to be on the table. Such a freedom does, of course, come at a price, possibly that of one's life. Civilization frowns upon such attitudes, but civilization does and cannot cover all human aspirations. Civilization cultivates the 'medium' and thus breeds a world that has what Jack Sparrow described as 'less in it'. Less diversity, except for that which is permitted by the 'medium' standards of the societies.

And this isn't necessarily a matter of individual freedom, even though one usually thinks of it that way. It is the prohibition and discouragement of associations of groups which are declared to be at the very least as 'improper' or 'deviant' and at the worst as 'dangerous'. By definition—and think about this, because it is true—just about every 'splinter group' is regarded as inherently dangerous, no matter how benign they might be. The implication is that if a splinter group is formed it probably is either somehow weird, or else led by someone weird who practices strange and outrageous sexual practices on the, of course!, weak and hypnotized members of the group.

Unfortunately that's true far more often than it is not. Or at least that's what we think. It's always the weird ones that come to the fore and are splashed for all to see across magazines and TV by gleeful journalists reveling in their self-righteous mission to bring the truth to us all. And, yes, it's good they are revealed. Still, every now and then I wonder, whether it really is all 'good'. For we need weirdos. We really do. The aberrant live at the fringes of the mediocre, reminding us that not everything has to be 'medium' and licensed and permitted and accepted and PC-ified or whatever. And, you know, secretly I think we know this, too—even as we stare in consternation at the TV, watching yet another report of some 'cult' doing weird and unwonderful things.

Yet, who are we to judge? You and you and you: dig a little deeper into your psyche and see if you don't detect some carefully concealed weirdness there, too. Something that, if anybody knew, would really freak them out. Maybe it's stuff you're thinking that you really know you shouldn't. Stuff you're feeling maybe. Or maybe, like me, you just sometimes sit in at some solemn occasion, like a wedding, or a funeral, or a graduation, or a staff meeting, and everybody and everything is just so-o-o incredibly...dull—and you're itching, to the point of battling your desire to scratch that damn itch, to shout out some truly and utterly inappropriate to the occasion; something that you know will either get your thrown out or fired or at least will elicit a mix of shock and secret delight from the other attendees...

Ever had that feeling? No? Well, maybe I did a good job planting it. I would consider the time spent on writing this blog worth every breath and heartbeat just for having planted that little seed of anarchy somewhere, that you learn to know what it is like to feel that itch; and when you do, know that this is the part of you that wants to tear itself out of the 'medium' world you're in. Ahh, yes, I know you have it in you. It's just that the door is firmly closed, with a few heavy bits of furniture stacked up against it, so you can't see it, and maybe you were even hoping that it wasn't there at all, though when you were 'younger'—whatever that means at whatever age you are!—you might have known it was.

It won't make you blind, I promise. Take away some of that clutter and you'll see it all right. Take away all the clutter and free it, so you can at least open it—if you want to—

—one day—


—why not?—

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