Un réel pour le XXI sciècle
IX Congreso de la AMP • 14-18 abril 2014 • París • Palais des Congrès • www.wapol.org

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Flirting with the real
Lt. Gwenn E. Laine

Amongst all the reasons which led me to embrace a military career, the idea of 'flirting' with the real was at the forefront: to get to the confines of the socially-manufactured world and see how things looked like beyond its reach. What I discovered is that one never escapes language.

During my naval training, I spent hours in simulators, honing my maritime senses in a safe and controlled environment. However, the first time I took a real warship to sea, safety and control became distant concepts. Exiting home port, I crossed a container ship which had obviously sailed through heavy weather: she was listing hard to starboard and had lost several containers. It struck me that I was heading towards the very storm she returned from.

The storm sure shook us but our streamlined hull helped us sail through it. Yet, what had tormented me most was not the storm itself, but the idea of the damaged container ship: she was the allegoric ambassador of a real which was on a collision course with me.

While the storm finally calmed down, the allegory never left me. The only thing the real 'does' to us is impact our bodies. However, we humans make it 'speak' to us through the language we invent along the way.

Lt. Gwenn E. Laine,
Allied Maritime Command, UK