Monday 6 April 2009

the sea as w.c.

The environmentalist David de Rothschild is sailing a 60ft catamaran made of recycled plastic bottles across the Pacific Ocean. His journey will highlight (a) the amount of plastic in the sea and (b) how plastic can be recycled.

The sea itself has undergone a sea-change in our imaginations. Early in Passage To Juneau, Jonathan Raban distinguishes between the view of the sea in Genesis ('the inchoate abyss from which God had raised man') and the Renaissance image of the sea as 'pure, inviting space', for trade, exploration and conquest.

Later still, the Romantics viewed the sea as the quintessence of the Sublime: 'violent, beautiful, coldly indifferent to mankind'.
Raban argues that in the last 50 years that image has been displaced.

'By the 1960s, people were looking at the sea in a mood of chastened self-recrimination, seeing in it their own greed, improvidence and wastefulness. They had treated the sea as a toilet.'

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