Images from Midway: Message from the Gyre, by Chris Jordan, via www.chrisjordan.com
These photographs remind me of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."
At length did cross an Albatross,Images from Midway: Message from the Gyre, by Chris Jordan, via www.chrisjordan.com
Thorough the fog it came ;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.
It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit ;
The helmsman steered us through !
But the Ancient Mariner of the title senselessly slays the bird, which brings a curse on the ship and its crew. They are tortured with thirst before a visit from a death-ship, yet the Mariner survives to suffer:
I looked upon the rotting sea,The Mariner eventually makes penance. "He beholdeth God's creatures of the great calm" and "blessed them unaware." Then, "by grace of the holy Mother," he survives to tell the tale.
And drew my eyes away ;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
Coleridge's dead Albatross curses the Mariner with "a rotting sea;" today a similar trail of death swirls throughout the Pacific Gyre.
In a new profile in SEED Magazine, Jordan identifies our culture of consumption with the appetites of the Albatrosses:
"To me, the birds look like us: filling themselves with something that is not nourishing, thinking that it is, and killing themselves in the process. Isn’t that what we’re all doing as a culture? Our spirits are dying from our overconsumption of toxic plastic crap."So: will the same death-ship that condemned the Mariner's crew visit us as well?
Or will we find the grace to save the oceans from a trillion plastic lighters and bottle caps?
Related: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, May 2008.