Rebuilding the Ship of Dreams


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.

11 thoughts on “Rebuilding the Ship of Dreams

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  1. I never thought of it in those terms, but you’re right. Titanic is smaller than we imagine and might not live up to expectations. Although a part of me still wants to sail on the ship of dreams. Maybe because we’ve never been on a cruise, it wouldn’t be so bad.

    1. I’m a sentimental romantic. I don’t want reality to intrude on my imagination, which is why I don’t travel. I want Downton Abbey to be Downton Abbey, not Highclaire. I want London to be the London of Sherlock Holmes, not a modern place full of trams. I want Bath to be as Anne Elliot saw it, not as it is now. And I want Titanic to live on in my imagination as she might have been, full of the faces I know and love, not as a floating museum cruise liner full of tourists.

      1. You really are sentimental. 🙂 That’s cute, although I do hope you travel someday. I would love to see England! It might not be the stuff of dreams, but what an adventure! I just have to pray that my future hubby likes travel.

        1. I might like to see the Belfast Titanic museum, but that’s about it. Nothing else will live up to my expectations — and that probably wouldn’t either, at least not an expensive plane ride and a nine hour flight’s worth.

          (Sorry, still an INTJ.)

          1. The flight would be a huge downer. Even 2 hours on a plane churns my stomach. The mind maps we made for future hubbies helped solidify my expectations and what I need and want in a man. Travel is a necessity for me and it’s good that I’m aware of it. Tell your mom thanks for me. 🙂

      2. I can’t tell you about Downton Abbey or London, but Bath still has a great deal of the charm it had in Anne Elliot’s ‘days’. Walking around there really felt like stepping into Regency times, the architecture, the parks. There are some great musea as well. It really is one of the prettiest places I’ve visited!

    1. A reporter asked Billy Zane (“Cal” in Titanic) if he’d sail on her and he laughed and said, “Nope, I wouldn’t want to tempt fate!” He has a point. 😉

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