Inventing the Ship


This was a line I considered including in my 3 Quotes in 3 Days! kick a few weeks ago. I didn’t for reasons^ — chief among them, the fact that what I like about these words is how they make me think about the idea in reverse:

Where there can be shipwreck, there is always first a ship.


I endured a shipwreck (of sorts) yesterday. While I still feel the shock of it today, truth is — this ship has been in the process of wrecking my entire life.

All we have ever spoken of is the wreck.

All I can remember feeling is the wreckage. 


If I am wreckage, then I am also a ship. Then I have also always been a ship.

Today I leave the reefs.

^ Quote Note: I’m a stickler for context and accuracy. These words by Paul Virilio fail on both counts! 

I first came across these words lined out the way they are in my header image and thought they must have come from a poem. Or, at least, from a poet. Nope! Turns out Virilio is cultural theorist who writes about technology (among other things). And he was talking quite literally about ships — and about the faults built into any new technological advance: 

The accident is an inverted miracle, a secular miracle, a revelation. When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution…Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress. (Quoted here). 

I still think I like my version better, though.

26 thoughts on “Inventing the Ship

  1. This makes me think of the movie Inside Out. Thank you for the reminder that tragedy, loss, etc are inevitable parts of life if one is going to have the privilege of doing just that. Kind of like with love- with love comes the possibility of loss.. without the possibility of loss there would be no love…. you know what I mean 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. And not just the *possibility* of loss. Loss, pain, heartbreak — some of each is inevitable, part of the human condition. What we control is how we make sense of it, when it happens.


  2. Shipwrecks are deep with secrets and attract colorful fishes and mermaids. Make the most out of your shipwreck. On fire, in a storm, slowly leaking?

    Liked by 1 person

        1. (So it’s clear: if “I have shipwrecked — and can never again trust that I am not sinking” is a resonant thought for you, in whatever context, please know that you have my sympathies as well.)


      1. I’m writing poetically when I should be writing sympathetically, sorry. Nobody wants to be shipwrecked, least of all the ship. That’s certainly not why it set off into the sparkling sea.


        1. Haha! No worries. We were starting to get tangled in our metaphors and referents, though, for sure!

          Are you familiar with the recent-ish Jane Eyre movie, with Michael Fassbender and Mia Waso-whatshername? There’s a scene where they’re sitting by the fire, talking about fairies and brownies — and then he pushes it to a point where she’s confused. (The audience isn’t, of course. Having all read the book, they’re much more informed than poor Jane about his backstory.) Jane sits up, all proper and prim, and says, “In truth, sir, I fear the conversation’s got out of me depth.”

          That was me, just a moment ago! 😀

          (Thank you, as always, for your sympathy, though.)


        1. (For the record, if “I have shipwrecked — and can never again trust that I am not sinking” is a resonant thought for you, in whatever context, please know that you have my sympathies as well.)


      2. i’m not sure if it’s wholly true, but it was something interesting to explore, like a smooth piece of sea glass from a shipwreck in my hands.


  3. What makes some of us (me) much more prone to always seek out/exist in the wreckage versus those who can simply know that behind it all is the steadfast ship, sailing along, dipping in and out, veering on and off course, but always there even when clouded in rough seas and ghostly ocean fog…
    I read this and likened it very simplistically to the ‘glass half full/empty’ ideal. I am a half empty person and negativity is getting old but I think it’s now a bad habit and breaking habits requires work, and today at least I would rather whine.


    1. Whine away, Deb! Feel free to bitch even, if that helps you today.

      In (partial & generic) answer to your question: Unresolved wounds from childhood. Family enmeshment. Trauma bonds. Disordered attachment patterns learned from our earliest caretakers. All of the above.

      Ain’t none of it pretty.
      Ain’t none of it unresolvable either, if you can find safety and support while you hunt down and face the sea monsters.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I just awakened from a nap, which means my face looks like “:0” as I consider all these things.

    I’m sorry for the wreck … but, by the same token, think another part of wreckage is not technology but motion. Wrecks happen in pursuit of something else, in rejection of still safety for its own sake, and so I wonder … what motion, what change, is beyond the wreckage? Beautiful things, perhaps.

    Liked by 3 people

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