Friday, September 30, 2011

Our newest export to France -- the sick destructive obsession with gay suicide

Sadly, this piece in Paris Match confirms that the United States is now exporting its obsessive narratives about gay suicide and bullying:

via Paris Match
Rendering in French the basic story produced by the New York Times, the Paris Match piece gives us a tour through all the grisly exhibits of the Official Gay Story. The only difference here is that the young boy is bisexual rather than gay.

I repeat, for all who read this, the unpopular stance I have expressed before:

Suicide is a hideous sin. Do not romanticize or pity people who kill themselves. Do not use them for your adult agendas. I doubt this kid even knew what his sexuality was. He probably seized on the queer identity to put a name to other, deeper problems he was facing. At the age of 14, nobody can know for certain what their future holds. Sadly, he even videorecorded his own version of "It Gets Better" and put it on YouTube--which shows you how effective Dan Savage's vaunted campaign is. (If anything, it probably makes things worse because it focuses so much attention on the narrative of gay suffering and self-immolation.)

This goes far beyond gay people killing themselves though. Suicide is the bigger issue. Life is going to be hard and you will always come across people who antagonize you. In my case, most people who have abused and mistreated me were gay. In some people's cases, the abusers will be straight. You can't expect life to get better and then punish the world for not improving your life by killing yourself.

Suicide is a sin, evidence of a disgustingly unethical and selfish character. I don't care if the kid is 14 or 44; you cannot commit such cruelty to your loved ones simply to get revenge for people who don't matter.

I hold the bullies responsible, as well as Dan Savage for continuing to foster this sick, perverted cult of death alongside Lady Gaga and Kathy Griffin. They are killing gay people with their gothic neuroses and morbid obsessions.

But ultimately responsibility falls on this 14-year-old boy. By fourteen years of age, men used to have responsibilities like helping to pay for the family's rent, care for sick elders, even court and propose marriage to future spouses. Now we expect fourteen-year-olds to be mature enough to define their sexuality and yet not mature enough to be held responsible for committing such a disgusting and self-centered act as suicide.

Do not glorify him. Do not pity him. What he did was wrong.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meditations on the death of Jamie Rodemeyer, a bisexual teen who killed himself in my home town

Below is a link I found to the full text of one of the most beautiful poems ever written in Spanish, called "La Noche Oscura del Alma," by San Juan de la Cruz:

San Juan de la Cruz lived in the 16th Century
It was this poem which became, in English, "The Dark Night of the Soul." That phrase has been butchered with overuse, as people often forget what the dark night of the soul meant in its original Spanish context. 

I will write about San Juan de la Cruz's poem tonight, because I think that 2012 will be the dark night of the soul for many men who struggle with same-sex desires, like the famous case of Jamie Rodemeyer. But I think San Juan's poem might be able to save some of them. Sit back and hear me out tonight.

Who was San Juan de la Cruz? And how can he help me understand the gay teen who killed himself in my hometown last summer?

San Juan de la Cruz saved my life.

When I was a Catholic teenager growing up in very dysfunctional conditions, confronting my mother's own troubled bisexual past, and then struggling with what I feared were blooming homosexual tendencies in myself, I might have easily fallen into despair and ended like Jamie Rodemeyer. Rodemeyer killed himself last September in Williamsville, New York, which happens to be the same (very small) municipality outside of Buffalo where my mother and her female lover raised me in the 1970s and 1980s. Rodemeyer attracted the attention of Lady Gaga--too late, of course. He was out of the closet as bisexual in Williamsville North High School (I went to Williamsville South) and couldn't deal with the turmoil of sexual alienation in that small town, so he killed himself after recording an "It Gets Better" video.

Lady Gaga tried to make Jamie Rodemeyer into a national martyr, on the same scale as Matthew Shepard in 1998 and Tyler Clementi in 2010. But as I have noted many times, gay tragedies only attract truly national attention when they occur in September or October before important elections, when politicians can use them as a wedge issue. In 2011, with Harvard and Oprah Winfrey both slathering praise on Dan Savage for "It Gets Better" already, New York State's gay marriage already firmed up, and Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed, Rodemeyer's death didn't have the spectacular timing of Tyler Clementi's leap from a bridge a year earlier. I hate to be so crass, but that's the truth. Jamie's death came across like the more than 30,000 suicides that happen in the United States each year. That is to say, it was not significant to make anybody take notice for long. 

Those who did write about Jamie Rodemeyer were quick to blame homophobia and slow progress on LGBT rights, which doesn't actually make much sense. Jamie's family seemed accepting of who he was, he had access to an Internet world that affirmed his sexual identity, and his state had just legalized gay marriage before he took his life.

More disturbingly for me, I know every nook and cranny of Jamie Rodemeyer's stomping grounds. I last lived in Williamsville in 2008. And I struggled with sexual anxiety with exponentially more difficult factors. When I was Jamie Rodemeyer's age, it was 1985 and homosexuality was associated with AIDs and child molesters--and nothing else. To add more pain to my situation, my mother was a lesbian and my father was not in the picture, but my mother's children and her partner's children (six in all) went to great lengths to hide what was going on. To this day I have siblings who have never talked about my mother's bisexual life history. And to top it all off, we were Puerto Rican in a Williamsville that was, back then, over 92% white.

I didn't worry about kids calling me "fag." "Spic" was the slur that made me panic. I worried about them smashing our windows or slashing our tires. A black family was driven off our block when I was in elementary school, based on accusations of stolen silver that sounded far-fetched. It is no wonder that on most weekends my mother and her partner took me to a mobile home community 45 minutes away, where many families with our unusual situation hid in the woods and pretended that we weren't living always a breath away from mob hostility.

And speaking honestly, I was right to fear racism more than homophobia. In 1992, a Dominican man was gunned down on Transit Road in Williamsville by a white man who feared he was going to rob him after a car accident. The man's name was Octavio Duran.

Yet Jamie Rodemeyer, who had every thinkable avenue to celebrate his desire for other males, killed himself. I never did.

In fact, at my twenty-year high school reunion in 2008, I was confronted with a dark secret about my high school years in middle-class Williamsville: I was actually somewhat popular. I had more friends than most of my peers. After seventh grade I never got bullied. At times I was rather mean to other people, which preoccupied me with guilt more than delayed rage. I flirted with guitar and piano lessons, was a fairly good marksman with the rifling team, and learned Latin dance as well as ballet. For two years I was editor in chief of the high school newspaper, president of the French and Spanish clubs, and the ring leader of a Rocky Horror Picture Show clique that took over a run-down midnight theater in nearby Cheektowaga. I wore makeup, nail polish, and women's stockings because everyone at that show dressed in drag. By the time I finished high school in 1988, I was ranked ninth in the senior class and was offered full scholarships to the University of Michigan and SUNY Buffalo. I turned those scholarships down when I got a letter in the mail in April 1988, notifying me I was accepted to Yale University.

Ever since the Jamie Rodemeyer story broke, it has haunted me, quite literally. I didn't want to blog about it or even think about it. Part of me was furious at the kid for not sticking it out, and for being what I would call cruel to his family. And perhaps, to me, as a fellow townie. Gradually, though, my anger veered away from Jamie and next at the gay movement that I believe drove him to suicide.

I don't think it's fair to say that homophobia or antigay bullying drove this young man to kill himself. I just don't think that's what happened at all. And the worst thing to do in response would be to focus ever more attention on gay issues. If anything, that's what caused Jamie Rodemeyer's death -- an unhealthy amount of attention to sexual identity, which is noticeable all across America as a result of an overly invasive gay movement. 

You see, I had crushes on boys in high school. I even had a threesome with two of my best friends at the age of thirteen. At times it pained me to think of how I might end up, if the feelings didn't go away. Of the three of us who hooked up on one drunken night, one seems to have turned out straight, the other gay, and me bisexual. But we didn't get hung up on labels when this happened that night in 1984. We enjoyed each other's bodies and didn't talk about it afterwards. I was already a prowler by my late teens and knew countless places to look for hook-ups, both with other boys in my high school and soon, I learned, in the vast world beyond. So it was a natural transition for me after my mother's death in 1990--I was homeless in New York City for only a few weeks, before I quickly fell in with a street gang made up of bugarrones and drag queens. Do you hear sadness in my voice? If you do, you're projecting. It was a rough life but it was mine and I celebrate it with no regrets.

So why would someone from my town in much more accepting and favorable conditions willingly give up his life? Why, when I was willing to descend into the gay underworld at the age of 19 and do all kinds of wacky illegal things to keep my life going? (And I always confess to my students, drag queens and sleazy gay men paid for my last year at Yale after I was readmitted.) 

Here's my hunch. Because people weren't constantly talking about gay issues around us, we didn't have to talk about it with each other or anyone else. In fact, we didn't have to think about it if we didn't have to. And that freed our energies to do other things. I learned French and Italian. One other friend went on to become a great fiction writer. And the third got married and took over a family business. 

Is the closet really such a horrible place? I have long thought, no. Especially not for high school. Being in the closet means you still have choices. The ending of your life story isn't written yet. Maybe what happened is a freak event. Maybe it's a trend. You don't have to figure it out right away, if you are in the closet. There is no pressure. 

The closet is a place of freedom. Which is what the gay movement got terribly wrong once ACTUP pushed the slogan "Silence=Death" on people, circa 1989, just as I was arriving at Yale.

It would be great if everybody in America could change and not have any discomfort with homosexuality. It would also be great if men stopped raping women, nations stopped engaging in wars, and rich people willingly donated all their surplus to charities. But within the world that we inhabit, there are sometimes useful and beneficial compromises that fall short of perfection. Hence, the closet.

Dan Savage and Lady Gaga killed Jamie Rodemeyer. They killed him because they and the cultural movement they spearhead have thrust adult categories and ponderous political issues onto the bodies of helpless adolescents who don't know how to make sense of it all. Not because the society is homophobic, which New York isn't; but rather, because adolescence is tender and vulnerable. Growing pains make everything seem harder and more ominous than it needs to be. Pubescence is no battleground on which to wage wars over gay marriage, adoption rights, or immigration policy for same-sex partners. So why force a kid like Jamie to decide whether he's gay or straight or bi, when he still isn't old enough to work at Santora's Pizza? (Where I worked, and acted like a diva for the three months I lasted there.)

It would be one thing if Dan Savage and Gay, Inc., were pushing gay discussions on young people and at the same time promoting an ideology of low-pressure boundless exploration to be supported by a warm and welcoming queer community. The truth is, Dan Savage thinks bisexuals are lying to themselves and are really gay and need to come out right away for the good of the movement. What kind of message does that send to Jamie Rodemeyer, who at the age of fourteen considered himself bisexual and may have dreamt of marrying a woman and having children? Dan Savage is also extraordinarily nasty, both to homophobes and to gay people he disagrees with, and as a gay figure he teaches his gay fans to act the same way toward other gays. So there is no way to enjoy Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign without being prodded out of the closet through a traumatic process, into a community of people who repay you for your sacrifices by treating you like dirt and playing with your head.

I am mad at the people who killed Jamie Rodemeyer -- but that would be Dan Savage, Lady Gaga, and Gay, Inc., not the supposed bigots of Williamsville, New York. Tell someone that they're born gay and don't have a choice to be anything else, and that they have to join a catty, competitive, and unsupportive social network exemplified by the Queen Bitch of Them All, Dan Savage, and guess what? You present a young kid with a bleak road map. He may decide he'd rather go on to the next world rather than live the life you have foisted on him.

But Gay Inc. doesn't understand this. Instead of backing off, the gay movement probes even deeper into the middle schools and high schools of America, prompting kids to come out of the closet before they even have pubic hair. And gay leaders have declared war on any orthodox form of Christianity, thinking that Christian taboos are what cause young gays to kill themselves.

In Williamsville, New York, Christian taboos saved me from Jamie Rodemeyer's fate. I went to Catholic mass every week, sometimes several times a week. The Polish priests, most of whom were likely homosexual, gave me comfort and understanding. I confessed my sins to them, including my desires for boys. They didn't tell me I was going to Hell. They simply prayed for me and encouraged me to master my temptations. Their message was what I needed. Had someone delegitimized Christian faith to me in that tender state, then yes, I might have felt lost and despondent, even suicidal. Instead, I took the message to heart and gained control over my sex life long enough to get a BA in Political Science from an Ivy League school. 

And then, there were the poems of San Juan de la Cruz. A Polish priest who had learned Spanish in Central America knew that I was troubled by multiple things at once, so he gave me a booklet of San Juan's poems. Suddenly homosexuality took on new meaning for me, as I heard the voice of a sixteenth-century poet declaring his love for Jesus Christ in words that bordered on pornographic. I sat reading his love poems to Jesus in the front pew of a church on the West Side, looking up to gaze at Christ's muscular, gorgeous body hanging from the cross. Homosexuality wasn't anything new, I realized. Men had wrestled with it since the beginning of civilization. San Juan de la Cruz taught me to direct such feelings -- master them, but do not let them become the master of my soul. If homosexual desire could help a Christian visualize himself as the Bride of Christ, then the desire is a gift. And if you slip -- hey, there's Sunday confession.

I wonder what might have happened to Jamie Rodemeyer, had he lived my life instead of his. What if he had grown up in the conservative 1980s, when Christianity still held a certain moral force in people lives, and the power to reconcile oneself to difficult urges such as homosexuality? What if he contended with racism and a scorned family structure, which would have forced him to become tough and self-reliant as a young boy while also putting sexual desires in perspective? By 2011, when he walked the halls of Williamsville North High School, the gay movement had mocked, reviled, and debunked Christian answers to ancient problems, without coming up with any new answers that were anywhere as good. 

In researching Gilded Lilies, I realized the dark truth about the modern gay movement (after Stonewall). It is killing men who love men. On every indicator -- rates of depression, eating disorders, suicide, HIV contraction, drug addiction, loneliness, and anxiety -- men who love men are worse off than other men, and worse off then men who loved men forty years ago, before homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders. Openness, easy access, quick affirmation, and clear identities have not saved men who love men. These things are killing them.

The Dark Night of the Soul

In honor of Jamie Rodemeyer, I include below San Juan de la Cruz's "Dark Night of the Soul," with the Spanish and English interlaced.

I read this poem when I was Jamie's age.

Maybe if he had read it, he would have been drawn into the "dark night," thinking the poem was an encouragement to see death as liberation and peace. That is not how I read it. If Jamie read it that way, maybe he would have killed himself.

When I read the poem, I saw in the lines a different message: Death, it seemed to me, was finality. The permanence of death is sublime, ending any hope of revision or editorial changes to one's life. However it comes, it is destined to be beautiful, eventually. But the dark night of the soul, when one finally has to let go of this world and its physicality, is neither something to be taken lightly, nor something to rush into. 

When I was Jamie's age, I believed I had great things ahead--things to do, books to write, men to love, women to love, and most of all, children to father. The image of the lily at the end struck me as a symbol of the seed a man leaves behind in the form of children. Since I grew up in an era when people didn't obsess so much about homosexuality, it was not unusual for me to have messed around with boys but still see a wife and children in my future. I couldn't rush into the dark night of the soul, until I had finished what I came to this life for. 

But what would Jamie see in this poem? The world around him obsessed about sexuality and probably sent him the message that he would never be able to have a wife or father children of his own. Maybe, his mentors told him, he might adopt. But Jamie might have found such a scenario largely implausible -- first, to find a male partner in the mean marketplace of gay dating, then to contrive a custody arrangement, only to have to deal with a biological mother somewhere in the mix... It might not have been as compelling a draw to remain living, as marriage and fatherhood were for me in the closeted Reagan Era.

I don't know if Jamie ever read this poem. But I hope wherever he is resting, he hears it. It is meant for him.

Jamie Rodemeyer, Rest in Peace

La noche oscura, by San Juan de la Cruz

    Canciones del alma que se goza de haber llegado al
    alto estado de la perfección, que es la unión con Dios,
    por el camino de la negación espiritual.

Songs of the soul that rejoices at having arrived at the high state of perfection, which is union with God,
For the road of spiritual negation.

  En una noche oscura,
con ansias en amores inflamada,
(¡oh dichosa ventura!)
salí sin ser notada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.                     5

In a dark night
With rattled nerves in loves, so inflamed,
(!oh blessed journey!)
I set out without being noticed,
With my house already being put to rest.

  A oscuras y segura,
por la secreta escala disfrazada,
(¡oh dichosa ventura!)
a oscuras y en celada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.                     10

In darkness and yet safe,
By the secret mounting steps, disguised
(!oh blessed journey!)
in darkness and in ambush,
with my house already being put to rest.

  En la noche dichosa,
en secreto, que nadie me veía,
ni yo miraba cosa,
sin otra luz ni guía                             
sino la que en el corazón ardía.                 15

In the blessed night,
In secret, that nobody could see me,
I gazed upon nothing
Except another kind of light, nor was I guided
But by the one that in my heart was burning.

  Aquésta me guïaba
más cierta que la luz del mediodía,
adonde me esperaba
quien yo bien me sabía,
en parte donde nadie parecía.                    20

That one that guided me
More certain than the light of noon
Where awaited me
The one whom I knew well, myself,
In a place where nobody else appeared.

  ¡Oh noche que me guiaste!,
¡oh noche amable más que el alborada!,
¡oh noche que juntaste
amado con amada,
amada en el amado transformada!                  25

Oh you the night that guided me!
Oh fair night,  sweeter than the sunrise!
Beloved man with beloved maid
Beloved maid in the beloved man transformed!

  En mi pecho florido,
que entero para él solo se guardaba,
allí quedó dormido,
y yo le regalaba,
y el ventalle de cedros aire daba.               30

In my breast, the blossoms,
What I bury for him alone is kept
There it stayed sleeping
And I bequeathed it to him
And the cedar branches fanned the air.

  El aire de la almena,
cuando yo sus cabellos esparcía,
con su mano serena
en mi cuello hería,
y todos mis sentidos suspendía.                  35

The air of the battlements
When I arrayed your locks
With your peaceful hand
In my neck, was a wound,
And all my senses were numbed.

  Quedéme y olvidéme,
el rostro recliné sobre el amado,
cesó todo, y dejéme,
dejando mi cuidado
entre las azucenas olvidado.                     40

Place me here and forget about me,
I laid the cheek upon the beloved man,
All is ended – and leave me,
Leaving my worry
Between the lilies, a forgotten thing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Tyranny of Ice Cream Fashion Moves to London

via InStyle
As I reported sadly last week, New York's Fashion Week seemed to be dominated by sorbet and gelato motifs, from the fluffy texture of cream-colored fabrics to the splashes of lemon, lime, coconut, and berry pink.

I thought perhaps this a sinister plot by Dairy Queen or Ben & Jerry's to hijack American shopping money, or the utter bankruptcy of designers, or both.

Well, it isn't just an American phenomenon. London's fashion week has started and it seems to we have lots of the puffy cream-colored fabrics with chocolate-licorice accents, like this ice cream cone women to my left. Though I supposed the confetti is supposed to resemble snow, it looks more to me like coconut flakes slowly drifting down atop a sundae.


The full article:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yet more outfits that look like sorbet dishes

Rachel Roy's piece, as reported in InStyle:

Everything for Fashion Week seems to draw from the vanilla, peach, lime, and lemon motifs.

It's disappointing to see how many of the designers this week are all copying each other.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fashion Week continues its rampage of mustard, lime, eggshell

Here's the latest update from New York's Fashion Week:
Christian Siriano is, if I am not mistaken, the scrawny gay kid with overgrown bangs who won Project Runway one season and became famous for calling everything a "hot mess." (Believe it or not, when I was in TRADOC for the US Army, the term "hot mess" had become very popular slang. What a hot mess.)

His styles are now assuming a central place on the runway circuit. And it seems to be the same old Christian, with his bizarre oval-shaped veils and flaring skirts, with everything a jungle of dimmed tropical fruit rind colors: lemony yellow, lime green, coconut white. Etc, etc. I never got the appeal of this designer. But at least this is better than the men's fashion, which seems to be suffering from fop mania.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Titanic and American Literature

Call Me Rose Dawson
Titanic and the American literary classics

[Essay by Coco Rico, submitted November 1998, never published]

James Cameron’s Titanic

I question the division between high and low culture. The work of Prof. Brodhead illustrates how the 1840s and 1850s – the heyday for Poe, Hawthorne and Melville – saw the explosion of a “mass market” of novels, overwhelmingly defined by the public’s demand for domestic entertainment.  Brodhead’s analysis directs itself against a universalized image of literary “greats” as somehow transcending market realities.
As a man born in the media age (1971), and a veteran of TV programming, I cannot help but turn to the visual media to ponder this issue more fully. Like most people who finished high school in the 1980s, I grew up in a world where books and film represented two distinct and mutually exclusive kinds of narrative.  Books were “homework” imposed by teachers who defined the legitimacy of our cultural inheritance.  We often read classics like Huckleberry Finn aloud in class and paid attention to score well on a test or paper. Then over the years these canonical texts lingered nebulously in our memory.  Meanwhile, television and film narratives were things that we chose or rejected.  Their legitimacy was entirely defined by our own tastes; they were molded and filtered, much like the books of the 1840s and 1850s, by a mass market desire. The canon and popular culture constitute, in my model, two kinds of narrative – one imposed and externally legitimated, one chosen and internally desired.
Just as Brodhead presents a system where market realities inscribe themselves into canonized literature; I will twist his dynamic into a circle and see how canonized literature inscribes itself into market realities. Do foggy memories of our studies turn into a collective memory capable of mediating how narratives fulfill our desires?
No single narrative could be more fresh and appropriate for this experiment as Titanic.  On the eve of its home video release in September, 1998, it had already grossed $600 million in the United States and $1.7 billion worldwide.  The global response to Titanic does not detract from its particularly American importance, since it still outsold any film in terms of U.S. moviegoers.  It was inflected to appeal to an American audience and the film ends with Rose Dawson gazing up at the Statue of Liberty.  At any rate, Titanic trounced any other film in history, doubling the gross of the next runner up, Jurassic Park ($913 million), and it is safe to say that James Cameron’s success far transcended the revenues produced by sheer manipulation through marketing.  While Gone With the Wind (1937) and The Sound of Music (1965) could be phenomenologically compared with Titanic, the latter surpassed the former two in its critical and commercial victories.  Titanic tied Ben-Hur (1960) in receiving the record number of 11 Academy Awards.
James Cameron was raised in a Canadian suburb of Niagara Falls and arrived in California at the age of 17.  He named his favorite novelists as Ray Bradbury, A.C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, explaining his previous focus on science fiction films like Aliens (1986).  But in explaining his interest in the turn of the century, he mentions stories about his grandmother Rose Cameron, or obsessive research into the narrow particularities of Titanic itself.  He does not express interest in writers like Dreiser, James or Lawrence, who depicted the broader context in which the passengers of Titanic became socialized. 
Cameron could not develop the main characters – Rose, Jack and Cal – simply by studying the ship or interviewing its six remaining survivors, so I suspect that Cameron formed them from his fogged memory of classic books, using canonized literary images that someone typically absorbs in high school English. The likelihood of this is corroborated by the responsive audience, which reacts to Rose, Jack and Cal as icons in a collective memory that reflects, I will argue, universally canonized writers.
The contradiction between Cameron’s visual accuracy and his slipshod historicity has already been the subject of attack.  Claiming an anti-English bias, London historians assailed the skewed class narrative in Cameron’s account, particularly his mysterious omission of second class passengers.  British records proved that the most drastic loss of male life was in second class, where 92% of the men drowned, as opposed to 88% of the men in third class and 66% of the men in first.  As well, Cameron focuses greatly on the poor men in third class, while largely glossing over the number of poor women; yet the most glaring class differential was enacted on Titanic’s female half.  Only 3% of the female first class and 16% of the female second class drowned, while 45% of the female third class did.  His strange erasure of second class, and his lopsided gender focus in third class, both reveal that Cameron, in piecing together the social fabric of Titanic’s story line, informed his film with certain clichés and myths that fall outside of sound historical “research.”  
The erasure of female poverty – or at least, the denial of subjectivity to it –  constructs femininity as upper class and the upper class as feminized.  The film orients us toward the pre-feminist cliché of frail, powerless females rather than toward the more complex literary images of women, including poor female subjects and “castrating bitches,” that Leslie Fiedler documents as an early 20th century phenomenon.  The skewed class dynamic betrays echoes of a pre-socialist narrative.  
By pretending that second class does not exist, Cameron projects our blonde hero Jack Dawson into a compressed class conflict somewhat disconnected from the early 20th century.  In passing, we see slavish laborers shoveling coal into the ship’s boilers, and the film offers us brief glances at poor immigrants; but Cameron weaves no laborers into the plot.  The predominance of Irish immigrants, scarcity of Italians, and absence of Jews or Central Europeans, keeps Titanic’s ethnic diagram within an Aryan aesthetic that mirrors the 1840s and 1850s more than the 1900s.
My multilayered critique of Cameron’s periodicity serves to orient this analysis closer to the canonical origin that most suits Titanic: the mid-19th century.  The pre-feminist, pre-socialist and pre-multicultural angle of Titanic places its narrative roots much earlier than 1912. The fact that clothing and manners of 1912 look, from a 1998 perspective, more like that of the 1800s than that of the 1920s and 1930s, may be partly responsible for Cameron’s collapsing Rose, Jack and Cal into the mythological icons of the 1840s and 1850s.  At any rate, I will illustrate the lasting legacy of three antebellum writers – Poe, Melville and Hawthorne – within the personalized plot of James Cameron’s Titanic.  I will open with an application of D.H. Lawrence, since Lawrence’s view of American culture compresses an even greater trajectory of 19th century authors into a broad overview of American culture.  
I hope to add to Richard Brodhead’s model and assert, through this case study, that the canon rules consumer desire as much as consumer desire has constructed the canon.

D.H. Lawrence’s Titanic
DH Lawrence

Within the first half hour of the Titanic, Rose begins to tell us about the three days before Titanic sank.  Her subjectivity allows us to leave the late 1990s and return to 1912.  Yet even in her emotionally charged introduction, she subtly contradicts herself.  First she makes the misty, nostalgic statement to romanticize what the Titanic was before it sank:

It’s been 84 years and I can still smell the fresh paint.  The china had never been used; the sheets had never been slept on.  They called Titanic Ship of Dreams and it was; it really was.
Four minutes later, as we enter the harbor from which Titanic leaves England, Rose says:

To everyone else it was a ship of dreams, but to me it was a slave ship, taking me to America in chains… Inside, I was screaming.

Perhaps the first statement is designed to make us think Titanic is Rose’s ship of dreams, and the second to reveal the first as a ruse.  Whether it is a concerted trick or sloppy screenwriting, Rose cannot describe Titanic consistently since she, like Titanic, is inconsistent.  The audience, absorbed in the film’s beauty, is scarcely aware of Rose’s insubstantial personality, because we have entered a realm of myth, deep in America’s collective memory, and Cameron’s characters speak in 19th century soundbytes.
Perhaps one of the best reference points to theorize these soundbytes is D.H. Lawrence, the first writer to define “Classic American Literature.”  Here he introduces his vision of the collective American desire codified by our literary tradition:

America [is]…  A vast republic of escaped slaves…The masterless.

Rose’s “slave ship” reference places her inside Lawrence’s vision.  Feeling chained, she flees to a vacuum of identity with no fixed character, as her opening fluxes in personality foreshadow, exemplifying the “masterlessness” that Lawrence perceives and abhors:

Only the continual influx of servile Europeans has provided America with an obedient labouring class.  The true obedience never outlasting the first generation…  Somewhere deep in every American heart lies a rebellion against the old parenthood of Europe… And this dark suspense hated and hates the old European spontaneity, watches its collapse with satisfaction.

As if to confirm Lawrence’s point, Rose and Jack both struggle to be masterless.  Jack calls himself “a piece of tumbleweed in the wind,” to which she responds dreamily, “why can’t I be like you, Jack?”  He bewitches the aristocratic diners by talking about going from one place to the next on “tramp steamers and such.”  Rose’s mother calls his life a “rootless existence” inciting an eloquent soliloquy in which he says, “I love waking up and not knowing where I’m gonna end up.”  
This courage to defy mastery by institutions inspires Rose’s love, especially Jack’s handwritten note saying make it count, meet me at the clock!  Rose descends with Jack into the lower decks, disregarding the danger to her engagement with the wealthy Cal, because Titanic is the ship of dreams on which she transgresses limits.  She tells her fiancé the next morning, “I’m not a foreman in one of your mills that you can command.”
D.H. Lawrence was intensely cynical about the end results of this type of social rebellion:

They came largely to get away… from everything they are and have been… Which is all very well, but it isn’t freedom.  Rather the reverse.  A hopeless sort of constraint.  It is never freedom till you find something you really positively want to be…  And people in America have always been shooting about the things they are not.  Unless, of course, they are millionaires, made or in the making.

Contrasted against the immigrants in steerage, Jack has no banner at all: no ethnicity, no community, no family.  This makes his soliloquies romantic, but Jack Dawson, as Lawrence would say, has nothing he positively wants to be.  He flees from nothing in particular to nothing at all.  Somewhere in the audience’s cynical side D.H. Lawrence is shaking his head.  
Had he reached Carpathia alongside Rose, Jack’s rootless poverty would become a “hopeless constraint” because the ten dollars he has in his pocket will not last long in New York City.  We would have to ask, “how is he going to support her now?” To avoid this, Cameron must freeze him in his youthful beauty, and let him sink to the sea floor, becoming a memory in the “deep ocean of secrets” that is Rose’s heart.  Cameron’s text suffers Rose to live, since she flees from something in particular to nothing in particular, rather than from nothing in particular to nothing at all. While Jack would’ve constrained her, Rose constrains nobody at the end, giving her a loophole to be masterless without enacting Lawrence’s foils.
Directly blaming America for having killed England, Lawrence foresaw American democracy turning to chaos and violence:

Free?  Why I have never been in any country where the individual has such an abject fear of his fellow countrymen.  Because… they are free to lynch the moment he shows he is not one of them.

Lawrence links America to matricide, matricidal guilt, and violence growing out of a false freedom.  Ultimately, he envisions the America that produced nineteenth century literature as incapable of any real reconciliation with reality, saying that “it all ends in materialism, really.”
The British who attacked Cameron’s Titanic for an anti-English bias should look more closely at how it parallels many of Lawrence’s critiques against America. As the ship is beginning to sink, the officers urge everyone to put their life jackets on, and American Cal Hockley mutters, “the damn English, always doing everything by the book.”  Ismay, the American businessman, pressures the Captain to speed too quickly across the ocean in order to improve his business prospects.  Cal and other wealthy Americans bribe the crew in order to hold seats and exclude the “servile” laborers in steerage, who are now locked behind gates and held at bay with guns.  The Scottish shipbuilder built an inadequate ship, and the English captain erred in judgment, but they show honor and remorse as the ship goes down.  Wealthy Americans – particularly Ismay and Cal – obey no moral structure at all, representing the inhumanity that Lawrence imagined in American masterlessness.
As Rose and Jack float in the water just before Jack dies, he tells her, “I intend to write a strongly worded letter to the White Star Line.”  His epiphany about rules is realized too late. America’s masterlessness, itself seductive, ultimately ends in chaos and mass death.  Lawrence’s Titanic woos the audience, hypnotizing it with Jack’s ode to freedom and non-identity transposed into the empty cliché make it count; but our matricidal guilt erupts for an hour of people dying, because the ship that left England for America cut corners, broke rules and had no order. Titanic is leaving Europe for America, and therefore Lawrence’s Titanic is America’s future, not England’s.  Lawrence’s stinging critiques sharpen the tears shed as Jack Dawson sinks to the ocean floor.  They are tears of remorse, communal guilt, and ambivalence about our masterless vision – perhaps, about ourselves.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Titanic

Poe’s Titanic is a living tomb.  To him we owe our distinctly derived Gothic nature, allowing us the literary necrophilia to which Cameron is heir.  In the “Shadow”, Poe wrote the words that could have framed our very entrée into the Titanic:

Ye who read are still among the living: but I who write shall have long since gone my way into the region of shadows.  For indeed strange things shall happen, and secret things to be known, and many centuries shall pass away, ere these memorials be seen of men.  And, when seen, there will be some to disbelieve and some to doubt, and yet a few who will find much to ponder upon in the characters here graven with a stylus of iron.

The film opens with a hazy black and white image of Titanic departing from England, with hymn-like voices and flutes in the background.  Then we see Poe’s Titanic, on the ocean floor, crushed and dismembered, its “iron” mangled, its rooms turned into morbid skeletons of what they once were, while the male explorer speaks a chain of Poe-esque platitudes:

Seeing her come out of the darkness like a ghost ship still gets me every time.  To see the sad ruin of the great ship, where she landed at 2:30 on the morning of April 15, 1912, after her long fall from the world above.

As our field of vision leads us through the abandoned rooms of the smashed and sunken ship, we see a decaying piano and hear eerie echoes of discordant notes, as if it is playing itself.  Somewhere, in the background, we are unnerved with the barely audible sounds of human beings crying out, dying.  Poe’s ‘M.S. Found In a Bottle’ comes to life:

The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld.  The crew glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried centuries: their eyes have an eager and uneasy meaning…I feel as I have never felt before, although I have been all my life a dealer in antiquities, and have imbibed the shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my very soul has become a ruin.

The same groans of terror that Poe created in the 1840s haunt Cameron, and us, in the opening sequences of Titanic:

I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror.  It was not a groan of pain or of grief – oh no! – it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe… Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me.

While the Gothic tradition flourished in Europe, Poe made it American by giving it its namelessness and its alienation from time and place, mirroring the vacuum of identity that Lawrence saw in masterlessness.  The unnamed writer’s words in ‘M.S. Found In a Bottle’ might stand in for the subject in ‘the Raven,’ ‘the Bells,’ ‘the Tell-Tale Heart’ or almost any of Poe’s most famous works, because the male protagonist of Poe’s world rarely tells us who or where he is:

Of my country and of my family I have little to say.  Ill usage and length of years have driven me from the one, and estranged me from the other.

The explorer searches for a diamond, and in doing so corrupts an unholy tomb; the myriad nameless voices crying out from the ocean floor are his first warning.  But like many of Poe’s characters, the explorer does not heed the warning signs.  He discovers a drawing of a naked woman wearing the diamond, the ‘Heart of the Ocean’, and knows from the date she was sketched only hours before Titanic sank.
The woman’s namelessness frustrates him, leaving him with an aching vacuum of knowledge that mirrors Poe’s ‘the Oval Portrait’:

I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed before.  It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood… I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute life-likeness of expression, which at first startling, finally confounded, subdued and appalled me.

The unnamed narrator of Poe’s story in the 1840s investigates the picture’s origins, and discovers the gruesomeness of its creation: 

Yet she smiled on and on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter… took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task… to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak… as the labor drew nearer to its conclusion… he gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud voice, turned suddenly to regard his beloved: -- She was dead! 

Poe’s ‘Oval Portrait’ makes a cameo within a reconfiguration of the sexes.  It is Rose who survives the painting, and Jack the artist who has died; but Hawthorne’s fetishism (to be discussed soon) and Poe’s necrophilia blend where Rose, the necklace, and the portrait all become indistinguishable clues in the explorer’s search for riches. The old woman comes forward, giving the girl in the portrait a name, and it is her fetishized memory as well as the missing necklace which induce the explorer to even entertain her lengthy narrative about the Titanic’s three days.
Poe’s voice then recedes.  About two hours into the film, as Jack and Rose make love in one of the ship’s hidden chambers, the iceberg looms ahead. Once the music changes tone to the Gothic soundtrack that culminates in Celine Dion’s song, we see the eruption of Poe’s subjectivity in full force. The lightning over Usher, the maelstrom, the musty suffocation of the catacombs, the rats inside the pit, the descending ax, the incurable plague – all of Poe’s fatal devices are fused into the coldness of the North Atlantic.  We feel the frustration that pervades Poe’s writing, looking upon the physical elements that surround the characters. Poe’s titanic tomb mocks us, reminding us of the materially real universe which Americans, following the simple diligence of Benjamin Franklin, have tried so hard to transcend.  First comes the berg itself, looming in the distance, revived from Poe’s ‘Silence’:

My eyes fell upon a huge gray rock which stood by the shore of the river, and was lighted by the light of the moon.  And the rock was gray and ghastly, and tall, -- and the rock was gray.

Titanic struggles to steer away, and Cameron turns off the soundtrack, leaving us in silence.  Titanic cannot be a slave ship or a ship of dreams anymore.  It has become a mass grave. The last hour of Titanic is an explosion of Poe’s stories once again: life beside death, life awaiting death, life inside death, life after death, life dying.
Once the iceberg hits and rechristens Titanic as a grave, Cal is given his humanity.  Cal, whom Cameron has presented as almost invariably detestable until this point, can only earn our empathy within a Poe narrative. Within a window of impending death we can see his anguish, opening the safe and seeing Rose’s naked portrait.  He struggles against tears as he realizes that Rose rejects his love.  He puts his coat on her and says, “you look a fright,” urging her to step into the lifeboat.  Part of the audience shifts in allegiance when he says “damn it all to Hell”, foregoing his safe space in a lifeboat to find her. As the ship sinks, we see that he, at least as undoubtedly as Jack (if not more so), really loves her.  His is Poe’s twisted love, the kind that leads to cutting out Berenice’s teeth, the domestic violence of ‘the Black Cat’ and the destructive incest of ‘the Fall of the House of Usher.’  Cal has substance, even if it is an evil substance; Cal is something while Jack is nothing in particular, and only as death encroaches does Cameron, like Poe’s ventriloquist, reveal this to us.  Cal is the terrifying man we cannot condemn, because he is in love, like all Poe’s Gothic narrators in love with women who escape their grasp.
Cal frames Jack for robbery, desperate to displace him and secure Rose’s love even as the ship is sinking.  The stolen coat proves that Jack is a thief, making Rose doubt him.  The foil of a stolen coat implicating a boy’s character vaguely revives ‘William Wilson’:

Many hands roughly seized me upon the spot, and lights were immediately reprocured.  A search ensued… “Mr. Wilson,” said our host, stooping to remove from beneath his feet an exceedingly luxurious coat of rare furs, “Mr. Wilson, this is your property.”

 “I do believe the ship may sink,” Lovejoy tells Jack, but they bring Jack to the lower decks regardless, handcuffing him to a pipe where he can watch, through a glass portal, the water slowly rising until he knows that his part of the ship is submerged.  Jack becomes Poe’s Fortunato, led into the catacombs in search of the cask of Amontillado:

We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame…A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite.  In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet… From one of these depended a short chain, from the other, a padlock.  Throwing the links around his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it.  He was too much astounded to resist.

While Jack re-enacts Poe’s tale of Amontillado, the rich passengers still carry on in merriment on the upper decks, reviving Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’:

And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock… And the rumor of the new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise – then finally, of terror, of horror and of disgust.

The tide turns when the people realize en masse the imminent disaster; and death is unmasked on Poe’s Titanic.  Cameron forces us into a maze-like plot of terror to last more than an hour; we must hear the screaming chaos of life being entombed. The few revelers who have escaped on lifeboats look back upon Titanic slowly sinking, sticking straight up into the air.  Rescue flares are set off, causing Rose to gaze fearfully into its glare while a young girl, thinking of them as fireworks, smiles.
Poe gives us life in death.  An old couple embraces as the waters rise up to swallow them, and the poor masses unite to break down the gates, perhaps knowing they will die, but having to feel alive.  The masses pray, an Irish daughter is tucked in by a loving mother, and Poe’s Titanic goes down.
And then, we see the black ocean, full of screaming, desperate people, turned pallid and blue with death, flailing as they wait to freeze to death.  ‘Silence’, ‘MS Found in a Bottle’ and ‘Descent Into the Maelstrom’ come to life:

[He] looked upon the dreary river Zaire… and upon the pale legions of the water lilies… and the floods of the river came down – and the river was tormented into foam – and the water-lilies shrieked within their beds.

Eternal night continued to envelope us…All around were horror, and thick gloom, and a black sweltering desert of ebony… I could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of hope itself; and prepared myself gloomily for that death which I thought nothing could defer beyond an hour, as, with every knot of way the ship made, the swelling of the black stupendous seas become more dismally appalling… dizzy with the velocity of our descent into some watery hell, where the air grew stagnant, and no sound disturbed the slumbers of the kracken.

As Rose and Jack float amid the dying bodies, the cold water – the black desert that Poe wrote in the 1840s – keeps all the “pale water lilies” tottering between life and death.  
The rebellious individualism that Lawrence documented leaves America the terror that Poe brought to life: the dreadful moment when people around us, no longer screaming in panic, say nothing at all.  Nothing is more menacing to an individualist than the encroachment of silence as it encroaches upon Rose in the North Atlantic.  She is truly individual, truly alone, driven from country and estranged from family; and suddenly, aware that with independence comes isolation.  Rose, floating in a sea of death, resurrects Poe’s obsessions about live burials.  She enacts Poe’s American nightmare of an anonymous death, with no human relations to comfort us, and no community to mourn us.  Her pallid face looking up at the black sky depicts our latent fears of the loneliness and corporeal vulnerability that come with masterless individuality.  She says to Jack, “it’s getting quiet.”  The lack of noise grips us, exemplifying the terror of Poe’s American isolation:

Then I grew angry, and cursed with the curse of silence…and the sighs of the water lilies.  And they became accursed, and were still.  And the moon ceased to totter up its pathway to heaven… and the clouds hung motionless – and the waters sunk to their level and remained… and the water-lilies sighed no more – and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert.  And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed – and the characters were SILENCE.

Popularized feminism, working its effects on Cameron, allows Rose to turn the gender tables around.  Waifish, golden-haired Jack becomes the sexual inversion of all of Poe’s corpses –  Madeline and Annabel Lee and Lenore and Berenice and Rowena – going down into an oceanic grave, leaving us uncertain whether he is dead or alive, or whether what Rose felt for him was truly love at all; becoming, for Rose and for us, a character called SILENCE.

IV. Herman Melville’s Titanic

Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849.  About that time three words were being put to paper, to begin another novel by a thirty-year-old author named Herman Melville.  Melville saw the vacuum that individualism and masterlessness produced; but rather than descending into Poe’s terror or Lawrence’s vision of American chaos, he wrote the famous sentence that declared the American’s right to name himself, and to offset isolation with interactivity.  His novel was Moby Dick, and the famous words were call me Ishmael.  Melville rises from the abyss of Poe’s anonymity, crying his narrator’s name out, saving his own subjectivity from self-erasure.  
The transition from Poe’s death in 1849 to Moby Dick’s publication in 1851 is compressed into a short window of ten minutes inside the cinematic life of Titanic.   Rose, having let Jack Dawson sink to the bottom of the ocean, blows the dead man’s whistle to alert the scouts that she is here, alive, and does not want to die an unknown body at sea.  The whistle, though faint, is enough for the scouts to realize that among the deadened water-lilies, there is a live soul, with a voice, who must be saved.  
Rose awakes, looking almost corpse-like, with a blanket over her, and her eyes strain against the bright sun as the rowboat approaches Carpathia.  She has been reborn.  She has proven her moral correctness in distinction to her class by willingly going down with Titanic and somehow, by divine fate, living.  Poe’s Titanic is gone, its namelessness sucked down to the bottom of the ocean.  As she sees the Statue of Liberty, her severance from her mother gives her free reign to rename herself.  The port official asks her name and she answers, “Dawson.  Rose Dawson.”  Call me Rose Dawson. 
The dormancy between Melville’s commercial failure in the 1850s and revival in the 1900s, mirrors the eight decades between Titanic’s disappearance in 1912 and rediscovery by deep sea searches in the 1980s and 1990s.  Pequod and Titanic vanish and are reborn in popular mythology; I believe that their symbolic meanings feed off one another. If a real ocean liner called Titanic had not taken 1,500 people down with it, we would’ve invented one.  The symbolic power of a sinking ship, still left imperfect by Poe, manifested in the American canon, ever since Pequod went down in 1851:

And now, concentric circles seized the lone boat itself, and all its crew, and each floating oar, and every lance-pole and spinning, animate and inanimate, all round and round in one vortex, carried the smallest chip of the Pequod out of sight.

Melville’s closing words of Moby Dick, invoking the survivor status, function as the literary precursor to Rose’s role in Titanic:
The drama’s done.  Why then here does any one step forth? – Because one did survive the wreck.
…and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side.  Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirge-like main…On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer and picked me up at last.  It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.
Rose and Jack steal Ishmael’s trick of clinging to a piece of wood.  She floats, as Ishmael did, saved by luck.  The camera pans to old Rose in the closing segments of Cameron’s Titanic, allowing her to replace Ishmael on America’s emotional center stage:

1,500 people went into the sea when Titanic sunk from under us.  There were twenty lifeboats floating nearby and only one came back.  One. Six people were saved from the water, myself included.  The 700 people in the boats had nothing to do but wait – wait to die, wait to live, wait for an absolution that would never come.

Pequod goes down, Titanic goes down; but Rose and Ishmael receive precisely the “absolution that would never come” to the 700 Titanic survivors. We sanctify them for their willingness to go down with Pequod and Titanic, and since luck rather than greed saved them, we admire their right to say, ‘I was there, and I survived.’  The Ishmael myth remains intact from 1851 to 1998, spread hermaphroditically across Jack and Rose.
Even with our matricidal guilt about Lawrence’s England, and even with Poe’s nameless terror latent inside us, Americans still hold the hopeful drive toward sociality that Moby Dick embodied in its beginning words:

Call me Ishmael.  Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world… Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses…and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.  This is my substitute for pistol and ball.’

Melville does not deny the destructiveness in his American soul, but unlike Poe, he finds its antidote: sea, adventurous wandering, masculine freedom.  Ishmael knows it’s “high time to get to sea”, and wants to avoid becoming a Poe-esque sociopath, so he goes to Nantucket and finds a whaling ship, facing the doubts of the local, rough-and-tumble whalers:

“But what takes thee a-whaling?  I want to know that before I think of shipping ye.”
“Well, Sir, I want to see what whaling is.  I want to see the world.”

I want to see the world.  So speaks Ishmael in the 1850s, so speak Rose and Jack in 1912, so we Americans feel in 1998.  Rose is returning from Paris, and fills her room with colorful paintings by unknown artists like “something Picasso,” reminders that she’s seen the world and can appreciate it better than money-minded Cal.  Rose’s impulses in first class, funded by her fiancé, mirror Jack’s escapades in steerage, funded by his Ishmael-like work on “tramp steamers and such.”  Jack speaks of drawing on the Santa Monica piers, drinking cheap beer, making portraits of one-legged prostitutes and French permutations of Miss Havisham in “old Paree”, where there are “lots of girls willing to take their clothes off.”  Jack is challenged by Rose’s mother to explain his “rootless existence” and says:

I got everything I need right here with me.  I got the air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper.  I mean I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen, who I’m gonna meet, or where I’m gonna end up.  Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am, on the finest ship of the world, having champagne with you good people.  Life’s a gift and I don’t intend to waste it.

As he concludes his soliloquy, not only Rose, but all the wealthy passengers at the table, raise their glasses and cheer, saying “make each day count.”  The very rich are filled with Melville’s urge to knock people’s hats off; but unlike Jack, they keep these feelings locked up inside them and never truly take to the open sea.  By contrast Jack sleeps in steerage with “less than ten dollars” in his pocket, alongside the peasants of Italy and Ireland whom the folks in first class could never tolerate.
The meticulously portrayed endearment between Jack and the ethnic peasantry of Titanic reflects another strain of Melville’s legacy in the American imagination.  Melville found the perfect solution to the individualist’s isolation in Moby Dick, a solution that would be repeated again by Cameron: enter the dark-eyed savage. Ishmael, on his own in the Massachusetts whaling trade, drifting among strangers, might have quickly gone mad, but Queequeq lightens his loneliness:

If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan’s breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies.  He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me around the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning in his country’s phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be.  In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old rules would not apply.

Jack Dawson is introduced in Titanic through a poker game in the rough-and-tumble male world of an English harbor town.  The tickets for Titanic are the stakes in the poker game.  There is blond, fair Jack Dawson, the only generic American in a mass of distinguishable “ethnics.”  His partner is a swarthy Italian named Fabrizzio with a thick accent not unlike Queequeg’s, his gaze not unlike Queequeg’s – “fiery and black” – and his posture toward Jack showing the same “flame of friendship” that would be “distrusted” among other generic Americans.  When setting out alone to “see the world,” as Cameron’s Jack Dawson and Melville’s Ishmael do, a brown-eyed peasant or savage comes in handy, since, according to the Melvillean gaze, in simple savages those old rules won’t apply. A quick scan of the lower decks shows that Jack, and only Jack, is generically American.  We meet a brown-eyed Irishman named Tony Ryan who mutters angrily that the first-class dogs are brought to the third-class decks to defecate, to which Jack remarks “it reminds us where we rank in the scheme of things.”  
On Cameron’s Titanic, subjectivity is mostly blue-eyed or green-eyed, and brown eyes belong to friendly, simple savages (if they are poor), or else to villains (if they are rich).  In Titanic you find only five real characters that have brown eyes: Fabrizzio and Tony Ryan (the friendly peasants), Ismay and Cal (the wicked aristocrats) and Andrews, whose poor shipbuilding kills 1,500 people despite his honorable comportment in the ship’s last hours.  Queequeg’s “fiery and black” eyes live on, playing the same basic role for Cameron that they played for Melville in the 1850s.  Queequeg and Fabrizzio are the brown-eyed undesirables serving, above all else, to prove Ishmael’s and Jack’s courage in being their friends:

As we were going along the people stared; not at Queequeg so much – for they were used to seeing cannibals like him in their streets, -- but at seeing him and me upon such confidential terms.

There is always a Melvillean thrill in having “confidential terms” with a savage or a peasant; it becomes one’s special claim.  And so as Jack concludes dinner with the rich folks in first class, he whispers to Rose, “so you wanna see a real party?” and takes her to the lower decks.  There the peasants are dancing Irish jigs, playing ethnic music, arm wrestling and getting drunk, and Rose learns how fun it can be to play with the peasants, since among simple savages those old rules would not apply.  In Moby Dick, Ishmael kneels and prays to Queequeg’s god without knowing what it means; likewise, Jack and Rose are struck with the mysterious ability to learn Irish jigs better than the Irish themselves.  An Irish stranger gladly catches Rose’s boots when she throws them to her, because there’s no such thing as premature friendship with savages or peasants in a Melvillean world.
Meanwhile, Rose’s cliché denunciation of mother and fiancé invokes Melville’s Pierre (1852).  Gillian Brown brands Pierre as “the nineteenth century’s most negative portrayal of domestic values”, while still acknowledging it as a key text in developing “domestic hostility that has so long characterized American formulations of the literary.”  The pivotal revolt against mother and home comes in the chapter “He Crosses the Rubicon,” in which Melville’s Pierre refuses to marry Lucy Tartan, and instead marries his illegitimate sister whom his mother would rather disavow.  The standoff results in Pierre Glendinning’s last, and anguished, glimpse of his mother:

[Mrs. Glendinning said] “If already thou hast not found other lodgement, and other table than this house supplies, then seek it straight.  Beneath my roof, and at my table, he who was once Pierre Glendinning no more puts himself.”

She turned from him, and with a tottering step climbed the winding stairs, and disappeared from him; while in the balluster he held, Pierre seemed to feel the sudden thrill running down to him from his mother’s convulsive grasp… He seemed as jeeringly hurled from beneath his own ancestral roof.

The “sudden thrill” is the American flight from bourgeois decorum and domestic captivity.  If not conveniently orphaned by circumstance, as in the case of Ishmael and Jack Dawson, the protagonist must “cross the Rubicon” in order to become a Melvillean individualist, as Pierre Glendinning and Rose DeWitt-Bukater do.  Rose assumes Pierre Glendinning’s place in the Pierre-Lucy-Isabel triangle.  While some might optimistically applaud Rose as a symbol of feminist self-discovery, I see her as a sexual inversion of Pierre, serving a masculine ideology of individualism more than a real feminism.  
Subjected to the domestic constraints of her mother – as symbolized in the almost violent tying of her corset – the audience awaits the moment when Rose will give us the “sudden thrill” that Pierre gave us by spurning his family entitlements. Rose’s mother demands that she marry Cal Hockley to uphold the family name and to “ensure our survival.”  She tells Rose, “you will not see that boy again, do you understand me, Rose?  I forbid it.”  Rose offers light resistance during the film’s first half, but always submits to maternal rule; until her epiphany just before sunset on Titanic’s last day.  She sits listening to her mother’s vapid chatter about wedding invitations, and she watches a young girl being regimented in table manners by a socially minded matron. The music swells into a full romance as Kate Winslet wanders away from the table and seeks out Leonardo di Caprio at the front deck, saying “I changed my mind, Jack.”  She has crossed the Rubicon, and we in the audience know, from our Melvillean memories, what to expect next.
The flight from domestic captivity, in order to be fully authenticated, must include the runaway’s dangerous foray into class and ethnic diversity, part of the “sudden thrill.”  In a Melvillean narrative the Other is indispensable on two counts.  The Other’s affection safeguards Ishmael’s individualism from Poe’s isolationist terror, and the Other’s dangerousness serves to certify Pierre’s individualist escape from domesticity.

[T]he watch-house filled him with inexpressible horror and fury… The torn Madras handkerchiefs of negresses, and the red gowns of yellow girls, hanging in tatters from their naked bosoms, mixed with the rent dresses of deep-rouged white women, and the split coats, checkered cests, and protruding shirts of pale, or whiskered, or haggard, or mustached fellows of all nations… seemingly arrested in the midst of some crazy and wanton dance.  On all sides were heard drunken male and female voices, in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, with the foulest of all human lingoes, that dialect of sin and death, known as the Cant language, or the Flash.

Hence when Rose has her final standoff with Mrs. DeWitt-Bukater, we feel the double thrill of her rebellion and the danger to which we know she will be exposed.  Rose’s mother asks whether the lifeboats will be “seated according to class,” and Rose cries out at her:

Oh, shut up mother.  Don’t you understand.  The water is freezing and there aren’t enough boats; not enough by half.  Half of the people on this ship are going to die.  

Rose finally says, “good bye, Mother,” foregoing her entitled space in the lifeboat to individuate herself from her family and class.  Cal tries to stop her but she spits in his face, saying “I’d rather be his whore than your wife,” and then she flees.  She finds Jack, rescues him from the lower catacombs, and relives Pierre’s journey into the watch house during the ship’s last hour.  With Jack, she comes across the angry Italian father trying to save his child; she is locked behind the gates along with the Irish immigrants; and as Titanic goes down, she is entangled in a mass of human diversity – a poor Irish woman with soiled cheeks, Catholic devotees praying for their own souls, a Middle Eastern family lost in the tunnels.
The aesthetics of Moby Dick and Pierre converge in Cameron’s Titanic.  Melville’s individualist escape from family and society still enthralls Americans; it keeps the gasping viewers charged with an adrenaline that only comes with “the sudden thrill” of Pierre’s Rubicon being crossed.  While the sinking is a material point of history, Cameron’s thematic and plot choices indicate that Melville’s mythical legacy is as powerful in the narrative as the rigidly studied truths about what happened in the North Atlantic in 1912.
V. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Titanic

N. Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA
At 101 years old, Rose Calvert is found spinning a clay pot in Iowa, in a comfortably furnished home where her gorgeous blond granddaughter tends to her every need.  What Rose did between 1912 and 1996 should be at least a little important to the story, but  Cameron leaves everything incredibly vague after Rose’s arrival at Ellis Island.
One character alludes to her career as an actress in the 1920s.  The closing sequence of the movie reveals narcissistic photographic memoirs of her liberated life: she rode horses by beachside amusement parks, saw elephants in safaris, flew a plane, looked gorgeous in a theatrical playbill, built a snug nest in the cozy Midwest, had children and died happy in her bed.   In light of all the class rhetoric, the Melvillean flight from bourgeois captivity, and the suicide to which “mindless” recreation seemed to push her in the film’s earlier stages; how much was she really transformed by detachment from her former identity?  
The epic finally ends with a vision that I take to signify her rise to Heaven.  Two servants in elegant garb open the doors for her, and she comes to the grand staircase of the ocean liner’s first class deck, where Jack Dawson lives again.  Some other literary ghost, anathema to Poe and Melville, seems to conclude Cameron’s plot: work is invisible, life is leisure, almost everybody worth remembering is Anglo-Saxon, and Heaven is a bourgeois social hall.  Titanic’s last literary laugh belongs not to Poe, Melville or Lawrence, but to none other than Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Poe takes individualism to insanity, Melville takes it to martyrdom; but Nathaniel Hawthorne contains individualist rebellion inside a bourgeois pragmatism.  Hence, even while Melville’s rebellious spirit and Poe’s gothic nihilism pervade the script, at every turn they are checked by our Hawthornian superego, which never lets us really spurn bourgeois capitalism.
Cameron’s Titanic portrays evil rich people, especially the brown-eyed Cal Hockley and his henchman Lovejoy.  But lest we turn into socialists, there are foils to diffuse any true class anger.  Kathy Bates plays a lovable Molly Brown, shunned by priggish aristocrats like Rose’s mother because she is “new money.”  Jack Dawson grumbles from time to time about class snobbery, but with Molly Brown’s help he dons a fine tuxedo and delights the wealthy guests in first class with his plebian humor.  The wonderment in Jack’s innocent eyes, along with Molly Brown’s sassy, earthy kindness, hint that maybe the luxuriousness of first class is worth its costs, if for no other reason, then because common people like Jack and Molly can appreciate it. Somewhere on Hawthorne’s Titanic there is room to fit a House of the Seven Gables, since in that book Hawthorne wrote:

There is something so massive, stable, and almost irresistibly imposing in the exterior presentment of established rank and great possessions, that their very existence seems to give them a right to exist; at least, so excellent a counterfeit of right. That few poor and humble men have moral force enough to question it, even in their secret minds.

Rose’s relationship with her mother oscillates between Melville’s matricidal rebellion, and Hawthorne’s sympathy for a declining aristocratic dame.  Perhaps the audience is prepared to detest Rose’s mother for being such a snob, but then as she laces Rose into her corset, we hear the subnarrative about their fall from hereditary grace, like a string of Hawthornian clichés assembled from tenth grade English class:

You know the money’s gone… Your father left us nothing but bad debts hidden by a good name.  That name is our only card to play…  It is a fine match with Hockley.  It will ensure our survival… Do you want to see me working as a seamstress?  Our fine things sold at auction, our memories scattered to the wind?… Of course it’s unfair.  We’re women.  Our choices are never easy.

Our harsh judgment of Rose’s mother flinches and bends.  Hawthornian narrative makes it hard to hate the rich.  We are inside the decaying rooms of the House of the Seven Gables, watching the plight of Hepzibah revived:

Let us behold, in poor Hepzibah, the immemorial lady, -- two hundred years old, on this side of the water, and thrice as many on the other, -- with her antique portraits, pedigrees, coats of arms, records and traditions… born, too, in Pyncheon Street, under the Pyncheon Elm, and in the Pyncheon House, where she has spent all her days,-- reduced now, in that very house, to be the hucksteress of a cent-shop.

To Hawthorne’s wretched Hepzibah, like Rose’s mother, work is alien.  Rather than hate them, we are better advised to simply wait for their disappearance by attrition.  They linger as female byproducts of a crumbling feudal system, soon to be overturned by bourgeois values that supplant dynastic entitlement with market choice and utility.  
The House of the Seven Gables chronicles the end of a dynastic feud between the Pyncheons and the Maules.  As Phoebe takes the name Holgrave, both Pyncheon and Maule cease to be names passed down from generation to generation.  The Pyncheon’s aristocratic tradition is replaced with Phoebe’s market vitality and Holgrave’s artistic energy – bloodlines give way to a bourgeois family economy based on choice, talent and change.  The end of the Pyncheons, through Hawthornian contrivance, is nothing as dramatic as the last Ushers being entombed in a collapsing mansion, or Pierre and Stanly ending the Glendinning dynasty in a murder-suicide. Rather than falling to violence or imploding, old money is peacefully replaced by a new bourgeoisie that takes the moral high ground by contrasting itself against a stagnant, morally bankrupt hereditary elite.
The House of the Seven Gables’ devices recur as a constitutive bourgeois fantasy, slyly nipping Melvillean revolt before it can truly threaten America’s class structure.  While Hepzibah, Clifford and Judge Pyncheon are the image of aristocratic stagnation, it is Phoebe whose effervescent spirit and beauty brings prosperity to the Pyncheon cent-shop:

Such was the sphere of Phoebe.  To find the born and educated lady, on the other hand, we need look no farther than Hepzibah, our forlorn old maid, in her rustling and rusty silks, with her deeply cherished and ridiculous consciousness of long descent, her shadowy claims to princely territory, and, in the way of accomplishment, her recollections, it may be, of having formerly thrummed on a harpsichord, and walked a minuet, and worked an antique tapestry-stitch of her sampler.  It was a fair parallel between new Plebeianism and old Gentility. 

The “old gentility” is boring, uptight, judgmental and, most incriminating of all, too accustomed to their “silks” and “minuets” to be productive in a bourgeois economy.  The new plebeians (who are really the bourgeois in plebeian masquerade), are quick to earn Hawthorne’s and Cameron’s sympathy.  They are underdogs because the old gentility scorns them, and yet through their “new” bourgeois values they miraculously surpass the old rich in wealth, without all the snobbery.  
Hence Phoebe and Holgrave, like Rose and Jack, will always cancel out Hepzibah, Clifford, Judge Pyncheon and Cal Hockley by natural selection.  Jack Dawson, like Holgrave, has his “art,” a natural talent that has the power to overturn the aristocracy’s waning taste.  Cal Hockley mocks Picasso, saying that his paintings “will never amount to anything,” while Jack, though poor, proves to be miraculously well-versed in Monet’s “use of colors.”  Touched by the insight of these natural artists, Rose and Phoebe enact a plebeian performance to become bourgeois heroines in themselves, and will, through Hawthornian contrivance, endure what the decaying aristocracy cannot.  Despite all the riches she’s foregone by spurning Cal, Rose survives the Stock Market Crash while Cal shoots himself.  She ends up not only happier than the Hockleys, but as Cal’s suicide hints, her toughened hide leaves her more prosperous.  Like Phoebe, her superficial plebeianism transcends the hardships that destroy the upper class, while Cal, like Judge Pyncheon, has been too pampered to change. 
The Blithedale Romance is equally important for the bourgeois order, as Hawthorne’s template for the submission of all rebels to the inescapable values of a consumer economy.  To read The Blithedale Romance is to understand why the Hippies cut their hair and found office jobs, why Jane Fonda forgot about the Vietnamese and married Ted Turner, why Madonna returned from Evita extolling American food and whining about Argentinian inconvenience.  Hawthorne mapped these developments in Blithedale’s failed socialist experiment, Zenobia’s aborted feminism and Coverdale’s escape from labor.  Blithedale’s inevitable return from rebellious resistance to bourgeois values reproduces itself in Titanic.  Rose, like Zenobia, is introduced as a feisty girl who smokes at the table, makes Freudian quips at Ismay about penis size, and feels, as Rose herself says, “as if I’m standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs.”  Molly Brown tells Cal, “she sure is a pistol.  Do you think you can handle her?”
And yet, as we quickly learn, Rose’s fierce composure is a façade.  Less than twenty-four hours later, she wallows in melancholy at dinner, while the old Rose prepares us for her impending suicide attempt:

I saw my whole life as I’d already lived it.  An endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts and polo matches.  Always the same narrow people, the same mindless chatter.  I felt like I was standing at a great precipice with no one to hold me back, no one who cared, no one who even noticed.

Rose runs to the end of Titanic, climbs over the railing, and prepares to drown herself in the North Atlantic.  Zenobia, Hawthorne’s classic image of the suicidal feminist, contrived her own drowing 145 years earlier.  Her motive is superficially her foiled love for Hollingsworth but, as her words reveal, she shares with Rose a general feminine dissatisfaction with the social world that surrounds her:

I am weary of this place, and sick to death of playing at philanthropy and progress.  Of all varieties of mock-life, we have surely blundered into the very emptiest mockery in our effort to establish the one true system… Yet it gave us some pleasant summer days, and bright hopes, while they lasted.  It can do no more; nor will it avail us to shed tears over a broken bubble.

For both Zenobia and Rose, rebellion against bourgeois femininity is futile.  Even as their respective texts accommodate their revolt against male authority, both Hawthorne and Cameron contain their agency.  Male power decides female fate in both instances.  Zenobia dies despite Coverdale’s entreaties, because of Hollingsworth’s rejection; conversely, Rose’s suicide is averted because of Jack’s affectionate intervention.  One drowns herself because she loves a man she cannot possess; the other tries to drown herself because she does not love a man who will possess her.
This manipulative antifeminism adapts Hawthorne to other pro-bourgeois contrivances.  He undermines Zenobia’s resistance with female desire and turns her power into self-fetishization.  Consumerist adornment validates her while, in Hawthorne’s construction, feminist socialism stifles her.  Although she eloquently upholds the socialist vision in Blithedale Farm, we see her own reinforcement of bourgeois femininity once Coverdale discovers her in the city:

But those costly robes which she had on, those flaming jewels on her neck, served as lamps to display the personal advantages which required nothing less than such an illumination to be fully seen…[she wore] a flower exquisitely imitated in jeweller’s work, and imparting the last touch that transformed Zenobia into a work of art.    

Coverdale makes a cut at her hypocrisy by implying that she never “numbered yourself with our little band of earnest, thoughtful philanthropic laborers.”  She trivializes her own politics by responding, “those ideas have their time and place.”
Cameron echoes Hawthorne’s fetishism in Titanic.  Old Rose is sought out for her knowledge about the diamond necklace.  Her aging body must be present for the crew to recover her memory, and her memory is needed to discover the necklace; hence Rose’s value is at first defined by the necklace’s value.  As the metanarrative progresses, this fetishization is offset by young Rose’s own resistance to being Cal’s property.  She tells Jack Dawson, “the last thing I need is another picture of me looking like a porcelain doll,” showing her awareness of fetishization and a resistance to it.  By taking off her robe, she wants to be flesh, human, something real rather than fetishized property.  Yet even in her nakedness, she insists on wearing the necklace for the portrait.  Like the jewels that speckle Zenobia, the diamond necklace controls the premium value of female transgression; even the feistiest girls want their bodies to be transformed into product design, the “work of art” that Hawthorne names and Cameron visualizes.  
Rose tosses the necklace into the sea at the end, but Cameron is deceiving us.  On the surface it appears that his authorial voice values human life more than the greed represented by the explorer’s intrusion into a mass tomb.  But the film’s text has already ensconced and preserved the fetishization that centralized the diamond to begin with. Rose insists on adorning her naked body with it; she endows it with “private” value by keeping it secret for 84 years, and shrewdly discards it only as a prelude to her own death, because it has been her individual property and she refuses to let it be passed on to others.  Bourgeois individualism stays intact, strengthening its ideology even as it suffers superficial contrivances to symbolically reject it.  The last frames of Titanic, in Heaven, show a rejuvenated Rose swathed in more shining diamonds again as she meets Jack at the clock and kisses him.   Hawthorne and Cameron have drawn us down chutes and ladders into the same cultural roles that we began with.  The three hour epic ends among tears, and 1,500 people have died, leaving us with a murky notion that some injustice has been uncovered, as if some rebellion against greed and exploitation has succeeded inside the narrative, and some important social message has been conveyed in the Rose-Jack romance.  But in the end, Hawthorne trumps Melville and Poe, and the film’s sentimentality has proved to be a self-perpetuating bourgeois diversion.

VI. Richard Brodhead’s Titanic

Titanic’s $2 billion miracle, earned in only one year, makes the Rose-Jack-Cal triangle the twentieth century’s most popular romance.  The film’s inconsistency of mood and personality reflects a textual pastiche of universally understood clichés; and I conclude this lengthy investigation by reasserting my modification of Brodhead’s model.  The canon provided Cameron’s Titanic with a set of symbols that, by virtue of their canonicity, were bound to strike at widely understood icons in America’s collective memory.  Desire, I venture, is as much a product of the canon as a determinant of it.
Titanic’s textual parallels to Poe, Melville and Hawthorne are highly speculative, and I confess the uncertainty of the connections but still stand by them.  The film’s regurgitation of canonized narratives, particularly 19th century narratives that overpower the real Titanic’s periodicity in 1912, have profound implications for our literary self-definition.  America – and indeed the whole globe – revealed its desire to go backward in time, to return to the formulaic narratives that reflect and reinforce our identity.  Feminists and Marxists must grapple with the power of Hawthorne’s bourgeois legacy. The battle over the canon, far from becoming less important, reveals itself to be all the more central in the wake of Titanic.  The 21st century looms ahead – and, if we find continuing success in redefining the canon, we have yet to see which way it might redirect the desire that Broadhead found so central.  

 Brodhead, 53-54.
 Tilley, Steve, Edmonton Sun, 9/2/98, online,
 Horn, John, A.P., 2/24/98, same e address as above.
 Hobson, Louis B. Calgary Sun, 3/29/98.
 Hobson, 3/29/98.
 Hobson, 3/9/98.
 London AP, 4/8/98.
 Fiedler, 312-328.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 21:30.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 24:20.
 Lawrence, D.H., Studies in Classic American Literature, Penguin Books, New York: 1971, p. 11.
 Lawrence, 11-12.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 48:00-50:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:03:00-1:05:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:06:00-1:10:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:11:00-1:12:00.
 Lawrence, 10.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:14:00.
 Lawrence, 15-27.
 Lawrence., 9.
 Lawrence., 35.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 2:59.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 53:40-54:00.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 20:00-35:00.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:01:50.
 Mabbott, T.O., ed., Selected Poetry and Prose of Poe, Random House, New York: 1951, p. 96.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 2:20-7:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 5:00-7:00.
 Mabbott., 71-72.
 Mabbott., 246.
 Mabbott., 64.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 11:15.
 Mabbott, 224.
 Mabbott., 224.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:39:20.
 Mabbott., 99.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:37:10.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 28:30.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 27:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:47:00.
 Mabbott., 145.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 8:05.
 Mabbott., 325-328.
 Mabbott., 229.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 6:30-8:00.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 43:00-45:00.
 Mabbott., 100. Emphasis added.
 Mabbott., 67.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 58:00-1:07:00.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:01:35.
 Mabbott., 100.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston:1956, 23.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:09:30.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:11:35.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:13:25.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick., 431.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick., 432.
 Titanic,Tape #2, 1:12:00-1:13:00.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick., 23.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick., 73.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 29:00-29:30.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:03:00-1:04:00.
 Titanix, Tape #1, 48:00-53:00.
  Titanic, Tape #1, 1:03:00-1:04:00.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick., 59
 Titanic, Tape #1, 24:00-27:00.
  Titanic, Tape #1, 36:00-36:45.
 Melville, Herman, Moby Dick., 64.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:06:00-1:11:00.
 Brown, 135-137.
 Melville, Pierre, 185.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:12:00-1:13:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:20:00-1:22:00.
 Melville, Pierre., 240.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 8:34:00-8:34:30.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 9:47.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 10:00-55:00.
  Titanic, Tape #1, 11:00-12:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 16:00-18:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 57:00-60:00.
 Hawthorne, House,257.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:12:00-1:14:00.
 Hawthorne, House 265.
 Hawthorne, House 289-294.
 Hawthorne, House., 291.  Emphasis added.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:23:00.
 Titanic, Tape #2, 1:13:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1,  48:45-49:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 35:00-36:00.
 Titanic, Tape #1, 37:00-38:00.
 Hawthorne, Blithedale, 573.
 Hawthorne, Blithedale 535.  Emphasis added.
 Hawthorne, Blithedale., 535
 Titanic, Tape #1, 1:25:00-1:26:00.