The Child of the Sea

By Barnard Law Collier

Miami Beach—Writers almost anywhere on Earth know that hurricanes are God’s way of letting us know that we are way too cocky.

In the actual world, no words and no weapons can gentle a hurricane’s wrath. Every hurricane in history is monstrous in its own way.

The biggest hurricanes generate disintegrating winds of 150+ miles per hour with tornadic squalls of up to 240 miles an hour. A human body and most man-made structures are torn to shreds at those velocities.

The tropical cyclone, which is a hurricane’s meteorological name, has been employed for several thousand years as a sure-fire literary device.

A hurricane puts real and fictional characters up against an allegorical test so severe that merely to survive it means they are emotionally and psychologically changed in heart and soul.

Nobody who hears the roar and howl of hurricane winds or hears the ocean waves slam against their front door can ever erase the emotional scars left by a so close a brush with death.

What writer can resist that?

Shakespeare used a hurricane to open The Tempest in order to shipwreck his comedic characters on an island and set them on their tragic and strangely funny course.  Typhoon by Joseph Conrad used a Pacific Ocean hurricane to represent the terrible natural fury into which Captain MacWhirr, with relentless tranquility, steers his ship just as he navigates his steadfast and harmonious life. The captain’s advice about steering one’s course in a ferocious storm is famously clear:

“Keep her facing it. They may say what they like, but the heaviest seas run with the wind. Facing it — always facing it—that’s the way to get through. You are a young sailor. Face it. That’s enough for any man. Keep a cool head.‎”

Within the next few hours millions of people on the Atlantic coast of Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia and beyond may face a superior force of nature named Dorian, in Greek, “Child of the Sea”.

Dorian is a terrible child. Cool heads are needed.

Barney Collier describes himself as cultural anthropologist, writer, former New York Times correspondent and bureau chief, and publisher.

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