Costa Concordia: Get Behind Me, Metaphor

So I’m looking for a good metaphor for the Eurodebt zone economic crisis, but it is proving elusive. This metaphor would have to be a single impact with many levels of meaning to really transmit the depths of the situation to even the most reticent of intellects.

Ideally, the metaphor would involve a seafaring vessel of some sort, in tribute to the international maritime laws the banksters operate under. Banksters love the maritime analogies: from cash flow and corporate vessels to owner-ship, captains of industry and economies that float or sink. So our metaphor must have that shiver me timbers flavor to fully capture the context.

But not any old vessel, our metaphor would have to be a pharaonically oversized floating city, as disproportionate to its surroundings as the bloated Eurodebt zone is to its member state economies. Something with that Titanicky too-big-to-sink feel to it, with a hefty dose of flashy ostentation for those savoring the trappings of wealth for the first time. An empty hull of illusory prosperity.

It would have to follow the European coastline and include all major cities, like the Euro itself, and in the best Homeric tradition should include the hubris and tragedy of a luxury trip to nowhere commanded by reckless fools and carrying its deluded passage to their cruel destiny. Something like the captain bringing the giant vessel close to an island to buzz the natives and running up against an underwater rock that wasn’t supposed to be there, tearing a 70-metre gash in the hull under the waterline. Simply said, something with a level of absurdity that defies common sense.

But our metaphor would have to go further to include the sinking of the vessel and the fate of its passage. The ship does not sink under the surface and disappear any more than the Eurodebt will, but rather falls over to one side and lies half submerged, displaying a powerful image for the whole world to see of a mess too big to talk away or pretend it doesn’t exist.

The passage must be the last to know what is going on, as always. All they know is that their solid floating world suddenly shudders and tilts and the lights go out and someone starts screaming as the dishes begin to slide off the table and the floor starts moving upwards… When the ship stops tilting, they stand in scared huddles listening to ship officials tell them it’s only a small motor malfunction. The passage looks in vain for the comforting presence of the vessel’s captain, but he’s nowhere to be seen.

Here’s where the metaphor has to have that final twist: the knave captain, having run the vessel aground, is the first to abandon boat, reach the island, take a taxi to the closest city, book a hotel room and call his mamma to tell her he’s alright. Because when the Eurodebt vessel finally sinks, the bankster captains will be long gone, relaxing in some island resort and calling their stockbrokers to find out how much they made shorting the Euro, not directing the passage to escape the rising waters of the crisis.

Finally, the vessel would require an appropriately symbolic name to convey the end of an era, a name that implies peace and agreement, a common project, a single currency meant to heal historic wounds that instead has allowed them to fester anew. The current accord between nations will sink with the Euro vessel, and from the wreck of concord, strife will set sail.

All in all, such an elaborate metaphor is really quite unlikely… so many uncanny similarities in a single incident would seem almost meaningful, some sort of warning about oversized vessels under poor command coming into sudden contact with hard reality. And even if such a thing were to happen, only a nutter would relate it to something as seaworthy as the Eurodebt zone economy and its corporate commanders. So get behind me, metaphor, lest I believe my own lyin’ eyes and end up like the guy above, reciting the jokes of the gods while the deck band plays Johnny Cash and the black debt waters keep rising…

One more foot and we’re outta here. And that ain’t no metaphor, momma.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s