The Corner

The Things They Complain About

An innumerable host of readers objects to my having said: “Coming to me for language instruction would be like going to the captain of the Titanic for lessons in navigation.” Poor old E.J. was not at all deficient in navigational skills, these readers point out; he was just going too fast for the conditions.

Yeah, yeah. If he’d navigated his way round that danged iceberg, though (or, according to one school of thought, gone into it head-on instead of side-swiping it), we’d have one less simile to fool around with.

Incidentally, am I the only Corner resident who thinks that the 1997 movie “Titanic” was a masterpiece of modern film-making? I have seen it three or four times, and am more impressed each time. Sure, the human story is kind of hokey. It works, though, as hokey stories sometimes do; and the effects are simply superb. Every little thing

– the way the windows blow out as the stern goes down. You think: “Gosh, yes, that’s what would have happened.” And hokey as it is, the story is “true” at the evol-psych level. That young couple is full of pagan life force. “Have lots of babies!” are very nearly Jack’s last words to Rose.

You can’t get more evol-psych than that.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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