Titanic by joshfred90


Each man makes his own shipwreck | naufragium sibi quisque facit
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, The Civil War

The Westerly Wind asserting his sway from the south-west quarter is often like a monarch gone mad, driving forth with wild imprecations the most faithful of his courtiers to shipwreck, disaster, and death.
Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea

The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea | tranquillas etiam naufragus horret aquas
Ovid, Letters from Pontus

My visions were of shipwreck and famine; of death or captivity among barbarian hordes; of a lifetime dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some gray and desolate rock, in an ocean unapproachable and unknown.
Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

Jerry: Expect a call.
George: Oh my god he’s not kidding.
Jerry: Now I should tell you at this point she’s under the impression that you are a…
George: A what?
Jerry: A marine biologist.
George: A marine biologist…? Why am I a marine biologist?
Jerry: I may have mentioned it.
George: But I’m not a marine biologist!
Jerry: I’m aware of that.
George: So?
Jerry: You don’t think it’s a good job?
George: I didn’t think it was a job.

Seinfeld, The Marine Biologist episode

A hundred years ago the Titanic sank. A forensic astronomer thinks it was because on 4 January 1912 the moon came close to the earth. The closest for 1400 years. And the day before the earth had been at its closest point to the sun on its annual orbit. This combination of super-high tides and the extra heat led to a dangerous breaking up of ice fields. Many icebergs broke off and floated south into the shipping lanes of the north Atlantic. One of them to a fatal meeting with the RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912.

Wait. Step back a moment. A forensic astronomer?! I didn’t know that was a job. Sounds very cool.

Shipwrecks. Shipwrecks and castaways played surprising and important roles in the opening of Japan to the world. The Dutch ship Liefde arrived in Kyushu in 1600. It was the only surviving ship of the original fleet of five. Hundreds of sailors were lost. William Adams was on the Liefde. He was the first Englishman in Japan.

Christopher and Cosmas were the first Japanese to cross the Pacific ocean. They also crossed the Indian ocean on their way to London. Later their ship was lost at sea.

Otokichi was a Japanese castaway who eventually travelled to London. He returned to Japan as part of the fleet that negotiated the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty.

John Manjiro was a Japanese boy. He was rescued and brought to the USA after his fishing boat was wrecked. Later he was a member of the first Japanese Embassy sent to the United States by the Tokugawa shogunate.

The founder of judo Jigoro Kano died at sea. Not in a shipwreck. But there was a suspicion that he might have been poisoned…

Anniversaries give us a chance to pause and to remember. The founder of aikido Morihei Ueshiba died on 26 April 1969. Every year on the 29 April national holiday there is an anniversary event at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama.


Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, The Civil War

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia | Latin original

Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea

Ovid, Letters from Pontus

Ovid, Epistolae ex Ponto | Latin original

Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym in The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Volume 3

background articles

Interesting discussion on judoforum about Japanese Imperial Military Martial Arts including comments about the death of Jigoro Kano. Also aikido and aikijujutsu.

art: Titanic by joshfred90 http://joshfred90.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2kcy96
joshfred90’s gallery on deviantart: http://joshfred90.deviantart.com/gallery/

RMS means Royal Mail Ship

shipwreck poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins on my blog


This post is published simultaneously on the aikido site aikiweb

my columns on aikiweb http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=75&filter[1]=Niall%20Matthews

I have an essay in a charity e-book put together by some writers and photographers to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku on 11 March 2011. It costs $9.99.

© niall matthews 2012


  1. niall

    Thanks Carina. I thought the captain of that ghost ship might fly out and sail it back! But apparently it was already going to be scrapped.

    Aleister Crowley was a very, very strange man… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleister_Crowley

  2. Thank you Niall for this post reminding the anniversary of O Sensei’s dead, as you said to pause and remember and to be grateful for this great man.

    In the last days there was a few times a japanese ghost ship in the news, your post immediately made me remember it


    And here the part of a poem

    No power of nature shall withstand
    At last the spirit of mankind:
    It is not built upon the sand;
    It is not wastrel to the wind.
    Disaster and destruction tend
    To taller triumph in the end.
    The Titanic by Aleister Crowley

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