GREAT WRITING: JAMES CAMERON IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
One of the regular features I’d like to include here on Ink & Folly is a post where I feature excellent pieces of journalism that I find online or off. As a journalist myself, I know what a challenge it is to bring your thoughts into focus and create an excellent piece that captures the readers attention and also conveys what you’re trying to say. When I find a really solid piece that I love, I always make a point to share it because there is just so much crap writing out there. So, I do hope you’ll enjoy and feel free to leave a comment if you find a piece that you love and you’d like to share or have shared here!
For my first post I’d love to feature the write-up the incredible James Cameron produced for National Geographic’s ‘Explorers’ issue. This was his firsthand account of his record breaking decent to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on Earth located in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean off the Mariana Islands. What is incredible about this piece, besides the incredible account of a incredible journey, is the tone he strikes. Going that deep brings with it incredible pressures and dangers that don’t exist above the service, to a place that has only been reached once before is an awesome accomplishment, yet he writes about it with complete confidence. I love that. I feel like that is the mark of a true explorer, someone who understands what’s going on and understands the risks and is ok with whatever happens. Here’s an example:
I’ve had years to contemplate this moment, and I won’t say there hasn’t been dread in the past few weeks, thinking about all the things that could go wrong. But right now I feel surprisingly calm. I am wrapped in the sub, a part of it and it a part of me, an extension of my ideas and dreams. As co-designer, I know its every function and foible intimately. After weeks of pilot training, my hand goes to a specific control or switch without thinking. There’s no apprehension at this point, only determination to do what we came out here for, and childlike excitement for what’s ahead.
The rest of the account is written in that same voice, confident with a tangible excitement. Just the way you imagine he felt whilst in the sub hurtling toward the deep, it reminds me of the accounts written by the old English explorers when they trekked through Africa or across the poles. He hints at some of the challenges he faces in the sub and adds in some great personal shout outs to his favorite explorers (and Steve Zissou!). The piece also features a few links on the side that detail the sub he design and funded (!!!) and it also features the official writeup of the National Geographic writer, Bruce Barcott, sent to document the trip in Part One. I love that you can read both the inside perspective as well as the spectators perspective for this truly historic event. You also get to read a bit of background in Part One which really makes Camerons voice in Part Two even more incredible:
Sealed in a steel capsule, Cameron bobbed in the swells, drifting in the current toward their target location for the descent. Beneath him: nearly seven miles of water. In the comms center, Tim Bulman counted him down to release. “Ten minutes to drop point, Jim.”
Head over to NatGeo and read the rest of the article as well as Part One of the piece, it’s not a long read, but so SO worth the time! Beyond the history making aspect of such and incredible (an incredibly brave) journey, the piece speaks to the absolute conviction that Cameron shares with NatGeo and other Oceanographers on the importance of exploring the depths of our oceans as well as the fragility of their ecosystems. With runaway pollution, climate change and unsustainable and harmful fishing practices we’re seeing catastrophic effects on areas that we no so little about but effect us all in huge ways. Supporting Cameron,other Oceanographers and researchers in their quest to glean knowledge from our beautiful seas isn’t just responsible, it could just save us all.