Monday, September 22, 2008

Things Andy Finds Fascinating Chapter 1,493

In which a Japanese shipping company gives a Panamax Roll-On-Roll-Off of car-carrying vessel a name which would seem to befit a country-western Album.

Presented for your approval: the Texas Highway a 17,000 ton vehicle carrier in the service of Taiyo Nippon Kisen Co. LTD. of Kobe, Japan. Her sister ships include the more internationally flavored Tianjin Highway and Baltic Highway as well as the Indiana Highway and Kentucky Highway which sound like they could be a Springsteen album and a Bob Denver album, respectively.

I just find all of this a fascinating example of the multicultural melange of mixed-up symbols our late-capitalist culture serves up in the even in the most mundane and under-examined spaces. A mix of symbols in which even historically powerful "western" culture can be re-mixed and re-contextualized.

Oh and when the container ship in the next lock over pulled forward two frames after this one, she revealed herself to be the Maersk Dallas.

2 comments:

Nathan said...

Nostalgia can be a powerful tool especially when the name game is being played. It causes me to ask what it is these Japanese merchants are trying to evoke in the naming of their ships. Since I have a big ‘ole bag of critical tools sitting ‘round here, unused, I see it as a keen strategy to make Japanese ships seem natural in American ports and to evoke a sense of inclusion and shared interests, experiences, geography, heritage, etc. with those who are unloading the vehicles that will eventually dominate the actual places the ships borrow their names from. In this way, it seems natural that a Japanese automaker would ship the Toyota that will dominate the Kansas highways to the US of A on the *Kansas Highway*.

NC

mark said...

Nathan, there's a really nice essay in this month's Harper's that reflects your supposition pretty accurately.