Monday, July 29, 2013

'The Sea'

Eagerly received my copy of Lapham's Quarterly's Summer 2013- Volume VI, Number 3, 'The Sea'. Between the mountains and the oceans, I'll choose water any day. Inexplicable love for the mysteries of the big blue. Contained within, are the expected beautiful illustrations and photos.

In the extract from '1995: Suffolk W.G. Sebald Gazes Into Eternity', it used a print of a photograph by Hiroshi Sugimoto titled 'Boden Sea, Uttwil, 1993'. Totally love the starkness of that. Lots of prints from little ancient maps dotted amongst the stories. They're fascinating, not just in the illustrations used within, but of the information they charted.

A wealth of well-curated articles split into themes of 'Seascapes', 'Seafaring' and 'Seashores', we begin with the sobering reminder of how much we abuse the oceans and take it for granted in the article 'Charles Moore Sails Into A Garbage Patch', 2003: Long Beach, CA. That will be Charles J. Moore, oceanographer and racing boat captain, who in 1997, brought the world's attention to this area in the remote North Pacific Gyre. The article is extracted from 'Trashed'.

I often struggle to find words that will communicate the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to people who have never been to sea. Day after day, Alguita was the only vehicle on a highway without landmarks, stretching from horizon to horizon. Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic. 
It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic  debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments. Months later, after I discussed what I had seen with the oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, perhaps the world's leading expert on floatsam, he began referring to the area as the "eastern garbage patch." But "patch" doesn't begin to convey the reality. Ebbesmeyer has estimated that the area, nearly covered with floating plastic debris, is roughly the size of Texas.

Of course the issue would include an extract from Jules Verne's 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea', a scene of a funeral, of which I wouldn't quote here. Enthusiasts would have read that book and might have been rather fascinated with the whole idea of an underwater burial. I swear that beyond curiosity, the book's the biggest push for me to begin diving as soon as age permitted. A pity I didn't dare dream big enough to become an oceanographer or a marine biologist.

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