Posted by: Ken Brown | April 18, 2009

Our Fascination with Pirates

Here’s a brilliant piece by Morgan Meis on why our interest in the Somali pirates far exceeds our concern about the dangers of international shipping (HT Inhabitatio Dei):

Did you forget, dear reader, that you, that all of us, have a lot of romantic notions about pirates? Don’t tell me that, suddenly, your concern for international shipping is greater than your love of pirates. Are you uneasy about Somalia and its warlord culture? It scares you? Well, that’s the whole point of pirates. Pirates are dangerous and sexy….

It is about civilization and its limits, about our need for a sense of home versus a need to break those boundaries altogether. The sea has always played a big role in that dialectic. The sea is, potentially, an avenue for intercommunication and exchange among men. It is, in short, a vast shipping lane. But it is also an outer boundary. The land stops at the sea. The city stops at the sea. We human beings have conquered this earth, mostly and swiftly, but the sea is still unnatural territory for us, we aren’t as sure on its surfaces as we are on those harder surfaces more suited to bipeds.

The pirate takes that insecurity and runs with it.

I’m sure Jim would retort that our fascination says more about our own “total depravity” than any underlying mystique about the high seas–I’m not sure he’d be wrong either–but I’m still dying to watch Pirates of the Caribbean again. The first one anyway–the sequels were just wrong


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