12 great quotes about power for maritime professionals

12 great quotes about power for maritime professionals

No, it is not the desire for money that really drives the shipping world. It is the desire for power. Those who want to make more money than they can possibly spend in a lifetime are really after power. For power means, not only standing above the rest, but being able to control those who have less money. The latter includes seafarers, who, for all the talk about human rights at sea, remain at the bottom of the maritime food chain. The following quotes should help shed light on the nature of power, why many individuals as well as organisations hanker for it, and how they can use it more wisely.

Power was my weakness and my temptation. ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There is nothing to life that has value, except the degree of power — assuming that life itself is the will to power. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power. ~ Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

Lust of power is the most flagrant of all the passions. ~Tacitus, Annales

Bacchanal with a Wine Vat, circa 1470–90
Andrea Mantegna (Italian, 1431–1506) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Authority intoxicates,
And makes mere sots of magistrates;
The fumes of it invade the brain,
And make men giddy, proud, and vain.

~ Samuel Butler, Miscellaneous Thoughts

Whoever has experienced the power and the unrestrained ability to humiliate another human being automatically loses his own sensations. Tyranny is a habit, it has its own organic life, it develops finally into a disease. The habit can kill and coarsen the very best man or woman to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate … the return of the human dignity, repentance and regeneration becomes almost impossible. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The House of the Dead

Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable. The young know this. Their anxiety as they enter upon social life matches the anguish of the old as they are excluded from it. Between these two ages, the problem is hidden by routine. Between youth and age there turns the machine, the crusher of men – of men who let themselves be crushed because it never even occurs to them that they can escape it. ~ Simone de Beauvoir, The Coming of Age

Portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, 1480
The National Gallery, London

Power doesn’t have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it. ~Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Bacchanal with a Wine Vat, circa 1470–90
Andrea Mantegna (Italian, 1431–1506) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The superior man can find himself in no situation in which he is not himself. In a high situation, he does not treat with contempt his inferiors. In a low situation, he does not court the favor of his superiors. He rectifies himself, and seeks for nothing from others, so that he has no dissatisfactions. He does not murmur against Heaven, nor grumble against men. Thus it is that the superior man is quiet and calm, waiting for the appointments of Heaven, while the mean man walks in dangerous paths, looking for lucky occurrences. ~ Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean

There is wisdom in dimming your light.
For the soft and gentle will overcome the hard and powerful.

~Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (translation by Tolbert McCarroll)

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other. ~ Carl Jung, The Psychology of the Unconscious

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Getting a handle on the problem of depression at sea

Getting a handle on the problem of depression at sea

Academic papers usually make for dull reading. The Mental Health of Seafarers, written by one Robert T.B. Iversen and published in 2012, is no exception. It starts with the typical abstract and ends with a list of references (57 in all). Even the title is fittingly stodgy. Despite this, the 12-page paper is a worthwhile read. It is clearly written. It puts a handle on the extent of seafarer suicides resulting from depression. It references existing literature on seafarers’ mental health. Best of all, it sums up the causes of the problem, to wit:

  • loneliness
  • separation from spouses and family
  • stress
  • fatigue
  • lack of shore leave
  • short ship-turnaround times
  • job security
  • cultural problems
  • abuse
  • criminalisation
  • piracy

Download the full text of The Mental Health of Seafarers here.

The list will hardly give rise to an epiphany on the part of the reader. These factors are familiar to experienced ship captains and others who have interacted closely with seafarers and somehow emphatise with them. More importantly, most of what are cited as potentially causing depression are external factors which neither the seafarer nor NGOs can do much about.

To suggest that handing out self-help pamphlets to seafarers will address the central problem is both naive and narrow-minded. But this is exactly what the author of the paper recommends in the end:

It is suggested that leading international organizations that are concerned with the welfare of seafarers, such as the International Maritime Health Association, the International Transport Workers Federation, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, the International Chamber of Shipping and the Asian Shipowners Forum, working with organizations like the philanthropic TK Foundation (whose website says it has a “great affection for seafarers and a passion for ships and the sea”), produce booklets and leaflets modelled on those produced by the Rotary Club of Melbourne South and the International Committee on Seafarers Welfare, in language used by most seafarers, for distribution on board
all ships.

Thankfully, unlike some maritime charities, the author does not propose “wellness” training for seafarers. That idea is not only naive and narrow-minded. It is idiotic.

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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A look at a menagerie of characters in maritime Manila

A look at a menagerie of characters in maritime Manila

menagerie: a collection of wild animals that are kept privately or to show to the public (Cambridge Dictionary)

Those who have read my e-book, Close Encounters in Maritime Manila (2018), may recall that I used the term “menagerie” in the Preface. No, I was not referring to a bevy of exotic animals. I meant a strange collection of people like the one depicted in Menagerie nationale (pictured above), a circa-1790 etching which satirised the French clergy and nobility of the epoch.

From the winding stream of past events and the menagerie of figures living and dead, I have put together a kaleidoscope. The pieces of coloured glass and mirrors inside reveal certain aspects of reality that may perturb or even shock the reader. I offer no apologies for this. My hope and immediate aim is to describe the underlying culture that makes Filipinos and Manila’s maritime community so peculiar and so interesting.

(from the Preface)

If I were to write a sequel to the book, it would probably be an out-and-out satire with animals as dramatis personae. They would be more interesting versions of the real-life folks featured in Close Encounters in Maritime Manila. This is what the partial cast of characters would look like:

Greedy Manning Agent

Ambulance-chasing Lawyer

Cocky Young Ship Officer

Testy Old Salt

Cheap Maritime Journalists

Servile Maritime Cadet (a.k.a. Utility)

Check out Close Encounters in Maritime ManilaIn celebration of Marine Café Blog’s first 10 years, it is available at a 50% DISCOUNT. See the details here.

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Looking ahead: Marine Café Blog’s 11th year voyage

Looking ahead: Marine Café Blog’s 11th year voyage

Marine Café Blog is now on its 11th year, having turned a decade old on 25th August 2019. Instead of looking back, I would much rather talk about things to come. As H.G. Wells said in his 1902 philosophical lecture, The Discovery of the Future: “It is possible to believe that all the past is but the beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.”

So what can readers expect in future from the maritime blog that many have learned to either love or spurn?

  • Marine Café Blog is known for its candid articles. In a shipping world that suffers from a surfeit of sloganeering and hypocrisy, I see no reason to change its editorial style. The blog will continue delving into seafarers’ rights and other issues with the same boldness and candour that has been its hallmark for 10 years.
  • The greatest challenge faced by 21st-century shipping is how to reclaim its humanity. Readers can look forward to more blog posts dealing with the humanities — art, literature and even philosophy. So far, maritime history has remained outside the scope of Marine Café Blog. However, I plan to start dealing with this subject in due time.
  • To delight and to inform has always been the unstated goal of Marine Café Blog. For this reason, the website’s Downloads section has been redesigned. New files are being added — from seafarers’ rights and humananism to marine art, literature and photography. I urge readers to visit this section often and also look at the new online Maritime Directory (listing is FREE).

A little help from readers of Marine Café Blog 

Marine Café Blog, for the most part, has been a labour of love. Maintaining the website whilst preserving its editorial independence remains a challenge in terms of time and personal finance.

If you have found the articles posted informative and inspiring, please support the website from as little as $3. You can also help by making a purchase through our online Store.

God willing, Marine Café Blog will keep going for many more years and be of service to its readers, especially the men and women who work at sea.

~Barista Uno

Beauty and terror: ocean waves in Japanese art

Beauty and terror: ocean waves in Japanese art

Hokusai‘s Under the Wave off Kanagawa, also called The Great Wave, (pictured above) does more than delight the eye. It is an eloquent expression of the traditional Japanese attitude towards the sea as something to be admired and feared at the same time. The woodblock print (circa 1830–1832) shows three fishing boats as a giant wave rises ominously, its majestic power enhanced by a diminutive Mount Fuji in the distance. The fingers of the breaking wave are rendered in a stylized manner. Even so, it is faithful to reality as the following two comparative images illustrate (click for a larger view):

The first picture above is a detail of Hokusai’s wave; the second, a close-up photograph of a surf. The similarities are striking. Clearly, Hokusai was very familiar with the sea and how it behaves. One could even say that he had an intuitive knowledge of fluid dynamics. But so much for realism. The main appeal of Under the Wave off Kanagawa and like works by other Japanese artists lies in their power to stir the imagination and evoke certain emotions.

Rough Waves, ca. 1704–9
Two-panel folding screen; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper
Ogata Korin (Japanese, 1658–1716) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The waves in Ogata Korin’s painting are absolutely menacing. They conjure up the image of dragons with sharp claws or ghostly apparitions in a surreal landscape. Sailors and others who have experienced a storm at sea would feel connected to this artwork.

Waves and Moon, early 19th century
Ink on silk; mounted as a hanging scroll
Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783–1856) /  Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Japanese have a remarkable penchant for beauty. They have even made viewing cherry blossoms in full bloom (hanami) a national custom. As much as they fear and respect the power of the sea, they also admire its beauty. This mindset finds expression in Yamamoto Baiitsu’s lyrical work, which shows a pale moon behind a troupe of dancing waves.

Tsunami, 1909
Woodblock print
Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942) / Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Kamisaka Sekka’s bold depiction of a towering wave is super-minimalist. It shows only the wave’s outline set against a dark grey background with a partly hidden full moon rendered in a lighter shade of grey. Despite its simplicity, the print forcefully suggests the tsunami’s dual aspect of beauty and terror.

Crane and Wave, mid-1830s
Woodblock print
Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797–1858) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

The crane flying above the water seems to mimic the motion of the ocean wave. The two are one. This sense of harmony with nature imbues much of traditional Japanese marine art with a special charm. It is what gives it soul.

~ Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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