By now, many of you may have heard about plans to design a second Titanic, by a billionaire, as a themed cruise liner and floating museum. Some believe this is disrespectful to the victims of the crash; others are eager to set sail on her and relive the experience (hopefully, not all of it!).
I am neither. My opposition to “Titanic II” is much more personal than that, for I know that reality can never live up to the fantasy.
The imagination is where the greatest things of our lives thrive. It is not influenced by realism so much as our desire to see a bygone world through an idealized romanticism. Titanic was luxurious, the biggest ship of its time, and its tragic end makes it remarkable. What we have now is a vision of Titanic colored through our own imagination, through writers and artists and filmmakers. We see her as a leviathan of the sea, a massive, spectacular floating palace that a mere four days after she set sail was at the bottom of the Atlantic. We’ll never forget our first glimpse of the Grand Staircase in James Cameron’s film (made bigger than the actual one, to accommodate our modern height) or the lavish Edwardian costumes.
Letting something live on in the imagination is a means of accessing another world that has long since passed, and marveling at a splendor that by modern standards is beautiful but rather unimpressive. Because Titanic doesn’t exist anymore except in our memories, we can choose to see her however we please. The reality would crush our imagination, and destroy our vision of the ship of dreams. Titanic, in comparison to a massive modern cruise liner, is small and her staterooms cramped. The designs that were so lavish over a hundred years ago would not impress our modern expectations, since we are used to and have come to expect much bigger luxuries.
Much as my heart longs at times to step on board this famous, ghostly ship and live out a day among her passengers, I am glad not to have the opportunity, for I know what lives on in my imagination is far grander than anything that could ever be built by modern man.