01 April 2012

The 1912 Project, Titanic Fascination, Numenor, Murasaki, a Niggun and a Sigh.

One hundred years ago, 1,514 people drowned in the Atlantic, and many others were ruined financially.
In commemoration of this event, 400 dressmakers around the world are sewing themselves new outfits.

Does this strike anyone else as an odd memorial for the dead?

Titanic fascination is a very odd phenomenon, when you stop to think about it. It's not enough to say, "We love the glamour of the era." No -- you love the glamour of the era that sank to the bottom of the Atlantic.
It is glamour, depth, and tragedy all at once - like an opera! The clashier Western version of, the next best thing to, the sweet pain of NĂșmenor (Where now are the DĂșnedain, Elessar, Elessar?), or Elvish mourning over the swiftness of time, or the Japanese mono no aware (defined here)- which are subtler.

I have been trying to work out whether there is any similar idea in Judaism - that there is something lovely, lyrical, about entropy, the falling of the leaves, the passing of the generations. Sorrow is obviously not the same thing as depression, but I haven't found that we celebrate it in any way, any more than we celebrate any other characteristic of our relationship with the Eternal, knowing that it will eventually be turned inside-out to reveal joy.

Galus, galus, vie lang bist du...

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library has recruited 400 volunteer dressmakers to test vintage 1912 patterns. And all we have to do is sew and blog.
Although I doubt that this post is what they had in mind.
Free Edwardian patterns? Really? SIGN ME UP!

Thank you to the VPLL for coordinating the project.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I would say that, while some dressmakers may care to wear or make gifts of the 1912 outfits, the dressmakers are not 'sewing themselves new outfits' so much as sewing themselves into 1912: that is, sewing outfits from old patterns and old instructions to experience their hobby or profession as it was practiced in 1912.
    The tragic event of 1912 is a nexus for gathering 400 dressmakers from all over the world to have a shared experience.
    The "1912 Project" could as easily have been the "1918 Project" with the end of World War I as its nexus; or the "1930 Project" giving everyone a chance to experience dressmaking in the Depression: making new clothes from old clothes, children's clothes from adult clothes, household linens from cloth packaging, etc.

    And I would add that what is fascinating about the Titanic is not the loss of life or even the glamour, which we can see in photos and diaries and periodicals from the era - but the fact that so much of the time and its glamour are preserved in one piece. The Titanic and its shoe buckles and combs and elaborate tile work and carved woodwork and stained glass are all together preserving a moment in time, the narrative of a few hours - like the sandal tops and combs and mosaics of Pompeii, or the first excavations (before grave-robbing) in the Valley of the Kings.

    The 400 international volunteer dressmakers are remaking the narrative of a day: a day in 1912 when 400 international volunteer dressmakers each made clothing - but did not know about the other 399.
    To me, the 1912 Project is about 400 people sewing; not about 1500 people drowning.

    Keep looking for the Jewish cognate of mono no aware. I am interested to learn what it might be.