Remembering the Titanic, and its time; synchronicity; and the feminist degrading of men

Yesterday afternoon as a friend and I were walking uptown through tiny Straus Park at 106th Street and Broadway, he mentioned that the centennial of the Titanic disaster was approaching. Neither of us remembered the exact date, but beneath us on the walkway was a plaque with the date, April 15, 1912. We turned and walked back to look at Augustus Lukeman’s wonderful bronze sculpture of Memory (recently discussed here) made in honor of Isidore and Ida Straus who died in the disaster. Someone had left a bouquet of flowers in the statue’s arms. I asked my friend if he could take a photo of the sculpture with his smartphone so that I could post it at VFR, but he did better than that. He had a camera with him, and took this shot:


It’s a good photograph. But a photo cannot capture the unique beauty and musing charm of this sculpture; you need to see it in person.

Also, today there will be a history talk at the park at 2 p.m, and at 3:30 p.m. a commemoration and tree-planting ceremony with music from the Titanic being played.

But here is yet another synchronicity experience which I can’t refrain from relating. Yesterday my friend sent me via e-mail the photograph of the sculpture of Memory he had taken, and as soon as I received it I prepared it for posting today. Early this morning I was having trouble sleeping, so I picked up John Ciardi’s translation of The Inferno which happened to be by my bed and I opened it to Canto II. At the very beginning of the canto, Dante is praying to the Muses to help him tell the story of his journey through Hell:

O Muses! O High Genius! Be my aid!
O Memory, recorder of the vision,
here shall your true nobility be displayed!

So, on the morning of the day I was going to post a photograph of the goddess Memory, I happened, by sheer “chance” (hah), to come upon Dante’s prayer to that same goddess.

Also, in looking for information on today’s commemoration in Straus Park, I found a story in a local newspaper that contained a shocking (but not surprising) misrepresentation of the Titanic disaster. It led to my writing the below e-mail to the reporter:

Leslie Albrecht
Manhattan Local News

Miss Albrecht,

In your story about the Titanic commemoration coming up today in Straus Park, you quote “historian” Peter Salwen about the death of Isidor and Ida Straus:

“It’s such a beautiful story, and there aren’t that many beautiful stories to come out of this,” said historian Peter Salwen, author of “Upper West Side Story.” “There were a lot stories of people shoving other people out of the way to save themselves. This was a really tender story.”

How could you let this statement stand unchallenged? The idea that people were pushing each other out of the way to get into lifeboats is a complete fiction, made up by the neo-Marxist filmmaker James Cameron who wanted to portray the bourgeois civilization of the early 20th century as oppressive and evil (and, of course, male-chauvinist). The truth, as every person who knows anything about the Titanic knows, is that the crew and the male passengers were so assiduous in following the rule of “women and children first,” that many lifeboats left the Titanic with empty seats. Many more people died than was necessary, because, far from pushing each other out of the way, people (i.e. men) willingly died in conformity with the moral code of that time.

It is disgraceful that you quoted Salwen’s lie and let it stand. And it is shocking that you know so little about the Titanic that you evidently thought his lie was true.


Lawrence Auster

A photo and bio of Leslie Albrecht is here:


An attractive, confident face—not terribly feminine, perhaps, but, after all, one of the classic models of female beauty is the virgin goddess Athena, who has male qualities of strength in her face. Indeed, Albrecht’s face is the typical confident (and not very feminine) face of the contemporary college-educated professional female.

And it makes me ask this, and this is the reason I’ve posted Albrecht’s photo: do we ever see a young man today who has this kind of clarity and confidence in his face? NO, NEVER. As I’ve noted before, young American men today look like unfocused shlumps, while the young women look like goddesses trodding an earth that belongs to them. Something in our society is terribly amiss. That something is the ruling feminist ideology, which exalts girls and women, and puts down boys and men. It’s the same anti-male ideology that led James Cameron to portray the bourgeois and upperclass male passengers and the male crew members on the Titanic as oppressive and selfish brutes and suppress their actual heroism and self-sacrifice in the face of death—and that led Leslie Albrecht and countless millions of others to believe that Cameron’s agit-prop epic was the truth. The Titanic memorial at Straus Park takes us back to a time before that hate-filled leftism had taken over America, when true art and true beauty—and true humanity—were still possible.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

To dispel the possibility that I subsconsciously remembered that Canto II has a prayer to Memory and so I chose that Canto to read, here’s how I came to read it. I re-read The Inferno about a year and a half ago, for the first time in many years. I was having trouble sleeping the last couple of nights and on Friday night (before we took the photograph of the sculpture) I picked The Inferno out of my bookshelf and read a bit of Canto I. Last night, Saturday night, unable to sleep, I read Canto I in its entirety. Later in the night, in the early morning hours, awake again, I picked up the book again and opened it to Canto II. I had no memory of a prayer to Memory. If you had asked me, does Dante pray to anyone early in the poem, I probably would have remembered that he prays for help in writing the poem, because I do have the knowledge that each volume of the Divine Comedy begins with such a prayer (though my only specific memory was that The Paradiso begins with a prayer to Apollo, because it’s so striking that Dante, about to enter heaven, prays to a Greek god), and perhaps I would have guessed that he prays to the Muses at the beginning of The Inferno. But I had zero memory that he prays to a goddess or a muse named Memory. It was the progression of events I described, having nothing to do with Straus Park, that led me, step by step, to read that passage this morning. Two completely unrelated sequences of events—my preparation of a post on Straus Park, and my looking for something to read to help me sleep—intersected meaningfully, in a manner that cannot be explained by any known or knowable cause-and-effect relationship. That is what C.G. Jung called synchronicity. I would call it the manifestation, on our human, material plane, of a higher, non-material order of causation that we cannot directly perceive, though we do experience its effects.

Irv P. writes:

Your commentary on Albrecht was better than any fine cigar and scotch. You are on a roll!

Mike P. writes:

Some of our young men in the military show this clarity and confidence. I believe it is because they know they are doing something that has a purpose beyond their individual self interest.

James N. writes:

There is a Titanic memorial in Washington, D.C. It was moved to make way for the Kennedy Center, re-erected without ceremony, not in most guides but still there.

There is a Women’s Titanic memorial. Note that, unlike the Women’s Vietnam Memorial it overtly praises the sacrifices of men.

Ed H. writes:

In noticing the supposed “strength and confidence” in Miss Albrecht’s face you also point out that she never thought to question the Marxist version of the Titanic sinking. Not once. She has no awareness that anything has ever been different than the present. Like with the “filmmaker” clown Cameron, the people of Edwardian England are mere projections of today’s reigning ideology. Everything is Now, Always. I would suggest that rather than “confidence,” what you see in Albrecht’s face is false confidence built on the principle of “organized ignorance.” This is very tightly protected world. It is always beseiged by reality and threatening to collapse at any moment. Letters from people like Mr. Auster don’t help, so keep firing away. The liberal world is tottering and one sign is that it is being kept together by ever more hysterical purges, persecutions, and denials of fact. The confidence in Albrecht’s face quickly turns to female befuddlement and the longing for male protection from a more complex reality than their fairy tales can provide.

JC in Houston writes:

As a Titanic history buff I detest Cameron’s film. A lot of great special effects went to waste on the equivalent of a bad daytime soap opera. The classic Titanic film remains A Night to Remember, released in 1958 and based on Walter Lord’s book of the same name, the definitive account of the Titanic disaster. The film version, which starred British actor Kenneth More as Second Officer Lightoller (the senior surviving officer), accurately tells the story even though special effects were limited by the cinematic technology of the day. An interesting aside is that actor Bernard Fox, who played Colonel Archibald Gracie (whose great grandfather built Gracie Mansion in NYC) in the Cameron film, also played lookout Frederick Fleet, who first spotted the iceberg, in the 1958 version.

David B. writes:

Last night, TCM showed the 1958 British film, “A Night To Remember,” about the sinking of the Titanic. This is by far the most realistic Titanic film, miles ahead of James Cameron’s made to modern tastes creation.

In particular, Cameron showed the ship’s First Officer, William Murdoch, behaving in a cowardly fashion. Cameron issued an apology to Murdoch’s relatives, but the fictional false portrayal stayed in the film.

Today’s feminists want it both ways and every way. If a Titanic-like situation happened today, I have no doubt that feminists would expect to be on the lifeboats first and for the men to go down with the ship.

LA replies:

Of course they would expect that, because women are superior, goddess-like beings, whose every desire—not to mention the desire not to die a sudden premature death by drowning—should be provided by society, i.e., by men.

LA writes:

I went to the commemoration this afternoon. It was a very simple and unpretentious event, but very nice. There were perhaps 100 or 150 people there. A man named Brett Gladstone, who is a great great grandson of Isidore and Ida Straus, spoke about his great great grandparents, how the example of their noble death influenced his growing up. Also about the founding of Macy’s, other family matters, and how they died, as told by their maid, Ellen Bird or Berg, to whom Ida gave her fur coat when Ida got off the life boat to stay with her husband. Then the couple walked down the deck and sat in deck chairs. They were last seen when a wave washed over them. When Gladstone finished, there was a candle lighting and music that the band played on the Titanic was played on a portable device that unfortunately had no amplifer. One of the organizers told me that they would have needed a permit to use an amplifer, so they decided not to bother. You had to walk up close to it to hear it. It was a sad waltz with strings, and I found it very affecting. I didn’t hear “Nearer My God to Thee,” which is reportedly the last thing the band played as the ship sank.

David G. writes:

Did you really think the story of the Titanic could be free of racism? In keeping with your themes of the day so far here is another sad intersection of differing views of an event based upon racial perspectives.

The black folk singer Leadbelly wrote this song, Titanic, years after it had sunk. It tells the story of the black, heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, being denied a ticket to board the ship because the Captain “don’t haul no coal.” Upon learning of the ship’s fate Leadbelly conjectures that Jack Johnson might have been seen “doin’ the Eagle rock” (which is a dance rag), his own life having been spared by white racism. Here and here are a few Leadbelly versions.

Leadbelly notes that

Black man oughta shout for joy,
Never lost a girl or either a boy.

I first heard this song decades ago played by a folk group named Koerner, Ray and Glover whose recording of it is here.

And here is a version of it by a singer John Bachman.

During his performance Bachman explains that Leadbelly considered this “a happy song” and he emphasizes the racial component even more than Leadbelly does.

Here are the lyrics:

Captain Smith, when he got his load
Mighta heared him holl’in’, All aboa’d
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.
Jack Johnson wanted to ge on boa’d;
Captain Smith hollered, “I ain’ haulin’ no coal.”
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.
It was midnight on the sea,
Band playin’, “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.
Had them lifeboats aroun’
, Savin’ the women, lettin’ the men go down.
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.
When the women got out on land,
Cryin’, “Lawd, have mercy on my man.”
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.
Jack Johnson heard the mighty shock,
Mighta seen the black rascal doin’ the Eagle Rock.
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.
Black man oughta shout for joy,
Never lost a girl or either a boy.
Cryin’, Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well.

Judith H. writes:

You wrote:

To dispel the possibility that I subsconsciously remembered that Canto II has a prayer to Memory and so I chose that Canto to read, here’s how I came to read it.

And then you proceeded to show that you had no conscious recollection of the Canto:

I had no memory of a prayer to Memory.

If you had had a subconscious recollection you would not know it consciously.

But I had zero memory that he prays to a goddess or a muse named Memory. It was the progression of events I described, having nothing to do with Straus Park, that led me, step by step, to read that passage this morning.

I am not saying that the progression of events is the wrong way to analyze what happened. I’m simply saying that if you had had a subconscious memory, you would not know it. Therefore, you cannot say “to dispel the possibility, etc.”

The “higher, non-material order of causation” knows about your subconscious and brings about these coincidences that seem so strange to us, but that have deep meaning and consequences. Everything is in our subconscious.

LA replies:

But the idea that I had a subconscious memory of the canto that was driving me to read it, is contradicted by the way I actually did come to read it. I put the book by my bed, then read Canto I in two installments over two nights. Then, when I had gone to sleep and woken again, I started to read Canto II. The content of Canto II, and any hypothetical subconscious memory I had of it, had nothing to do with the way I actually came to read it.

As for the verbal contradiction in my account, what I was attempting to show was that no mental contents of mine, whether conscious or subconscious, had anything to do with my reading that passage. Remember further that I had put the book by my bed before my walk through the park when I got the idea of taking a photograph of it for the Titanic centennial

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 15, 2012 09:45 AM | Send

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