He turned the steering wheel the wrong direction. That is the latest revelation about what happened to the greatest ocean liner of all time, Titanic. This fact, claims Louise Patten, granddaughter of Titanic’s Second Officer Charles Lightoller, was kept a secret until now.

 

According to Louise Patten, there was some confusion in those days about what “hard a-starboard” actually meant. The new steam ships had mechanized steering systems that meant you had to turn the wheel the opposite way for starboard as you did on the old sail ships. With the iceberg looming out in the dark night, the helmsman turned the wheel the wrong way. Later, after Titanic did, in fact, strike the iceberg, the people in charge (Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line that owned Titanic, leading the way), decided to push forward at full… More…

It’s been more than 30 years since Jean-François Lyotard closed the historical door on Modernism. It was 1979, to be exact, when Lyotard published The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Rumors of the death of Modernism had been swirling for years. But death comes in stages, especially when the mortally wounded is a “movement” or an “age.” Lyotard’s book managed to tie all those rumors together and then package the result as “Postmodernism,” the new next thing.

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields. 240 pages. Knopf. $24.95.

Lyotard focused on the idea of narratives. Past periods, Modernism in particular, had been fond of what he called “meta-narratives,” all-inclusive narrative frameworks that explained everything, more or less. Think, for instance, of Marxism and the way that class struggle drives every other part of the story. Look at the… More…

“Go to a place, report on its culture, foibles, distractions, and bring it back to entertain your readers…it’s not enough just to say what happened — you have to make people understand what it felt like to be there when it happened.” This seems like a pretty good description of travel writing, right? It wouldn’t seem out of place as advice given by an editor to a first-time travel writer. But actually, this quote is by a video game journalist named Kieron Gillen, taken from a manifesto he wrote not too long ago on what he calls “The New Games Journalism” (after Tom Wolfe’s famous term “The New Journalism”). In his manifesto, Gillen exhorts his video game colleagues to become “Travel Journalists to Imaginary Places.”