Daily mythology: the ocean, the sea


“My Bonnie is over the ocean”

The sea as a space has some attributes of spacelessness. If we don’t see the coast we can lose our orientation, we feel “space-less”, we feel insecure, we even faint. Imagine sea AND fog! But an ocean with islands and cliffs, with the sound of waves smashing the rocks, with the shriek of seagulls and wild geese, with flying fish and maybe even the birth of Venus is a wonderful experience and a refreshment to our senses.
Mankind from the night of history on built ships to encounter the dangers of the ocean, to cross it, to trade, to discover new land(s). It began with Noah’s arc, it ended with the Titanic (now we have airplanes to get on faster).
There have always been mariner nations and others which preferred the safe ground underneath their feet. The later used the horse, until recently we called them “horse-people”. Just you think of the numerous populations crossing the Asian steppes – mainly from East to West – the Mongolians, the Huns, the Scythes, the Goths a.s.o.
The English always heard the call of the sea. Their empire was based on ships and fleets. The worst thing to them were peaceful times at home. Then they reluctantly played poker or bridge (we talk of men here).
The Phoenicians went to sea. They surrounded Africa and went to America while we were living in caves.
But did you ever notice the dialectics in between Romans and Carthaginians (which were Phoenicians too). The Romans: typical road-people (would we have roads without them?) The Carthaginians riding the waves of all oceans. They fought for supremacy, but how? The Romans built ships, but a bridge (a “road”) was put to the ennemie’s ships, and the foot troops could walk over. Hannibal took elephants, crossed the Alps (means: did not cross the sea) and used them like ships in the waving battle. Both in a way “bluffed”. From then on poker could be played.
The ocean is dangerous – and funny to say: most mariners cannot swim. All around the coasts are graveyards for drowned people……
We have a kind of oceans even on ground: the big deserts. They show even waves in form of their dunes. It begins with the rolling prairie and the biggest ocean of sand is the Gobi- desert or maybe the Sahara. How hard they are to cross! How nice to find an oasis there!
But the essential part of the sea is water. Hydor men aristos! said Aristotle, water is the best! Que d’eau, que d’eau, what water! said General MacMahon, when he reached the channel between France and England…
The African migrants, crossing the Mediterranean, set their lives to get to Europe.
“My future is over the ocean….”
Oh, how much could be told about the oceans! Even a list of books might be huge. Let’s just take the Hornblower-novels by C.M. Forester. And the monuments among them:
– Odyssee, Homer
– Moby Dick, Herman Melville
– Oceano Mare, Alessandro Barrico
– Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen, Franz Grillparzer
– Le Bateau Ivre, Arthur Rimbaud
– Ossip Mandelstam, Schlaflosigkeit, Homer
– Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
– Les Aventures de Tintin, Coke en Stock
– Kon Tiki, Thor Heyerdal
– Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit, Sten Nadolny
– Northwest Passage, Kenneth Roberts


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