Episode 6 — Cruising on a Ship of Fools: Renaissance Reason, Modern Civilization, and the COVID Pandemic           

Teo Wickland 

Listen on Podbean, Apple Podcast

This episode is about the ship of fools, a true legend from medieval Europe and a metaphor for both the disaster and mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis, and for the disaster and mismanagement of the multifaceted, worldwide crisis of recent history. It’s created and hosted by me, Teo Wickland.

With this episode, I’m hoping to raise awareness about how the Covid-19 crisis is a symptom of a much broader crisis, because the pandemic is a portal to recognizing fallacies of truth, knowledge, expertise, and even our understandings of ourselves. Once we begin to see these delusions for what they are, through the legend of the ship of fools, we can see that it is we who are the fools, prisoners of a voyage without destination on the global ship of modern civilization.

Ship of Fools Playlist:

  1. Ekova, “La nef des fous” [“Ship of fools”], 1998
  2. Andre Kostelanetz, “Ship of fools,” 1966
  3. Secret Chiefs 3, “Ship of fools,” 2001
  4. La Breiche, “La nef des fous” [“Ship of fools”], 2017
  5. santpoort, “Ship of fools,” 2018
  6. Grateful Dead, “Ship of fools,” 1974
  7. The Doors, “Ship of fools,” 1970
  8. Quique González, “La nave de los locos” [“Ship of fools”], 2019
  9. Félix Stüssi 5 and Ray Anderson, “Hieronymus: III. Ship of fools (Nef des fous),” 2010
  10. Daida, “La nef des fous” [“Ship of fools”], 2018
  11. The Persuasions, “Ship of fools,” 2000
  12. Pert Near Sandstone, “Ship of fools,” 2018
  13. The Grass Is Dead, “Ship of fools,” 2004
  14. ZK Bucket, “Ship of fools,” 2020
  15. Erasure, “Ship of fools,” 1988

Works cited:
Foucault, Michel. (1961) 1988. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Vintage.

Sanyal, Kalyan. 2013. Rethinking Capitalist Development: Primitive Accumulation, Governmentality and Post-Colonial Capitalism. Routledge India.

Further reading: Modern civilization, coloniality, globalization
AlSayyad, Nezar, and Ananya Roy. 2006. “Medieval Modernity: On Citizenship and Urbanism in a Global Era.” Space & Polity 10 (1): 1–20.

Fajardo, Kale Bantigue. 2011. Filipino Crosscurrents: Oceanographies of Seafaring, Masculinities, and Globalization. U of Minnesota Press.

Gibson-Graham, J. K. 2006. The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. 1st University of Minnesota Press Ed., 2006 edition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Harvard University Press.

Hall, Michael C., and Hazel Tucker, eds. 2004. Tourism and Postcolonialism: Contested Discourses, Identities and Representations. Routledge.

Invisible Committee, The. 2015. To Our Friends. Translated by Robert Hurley. Semiotext(e).

Li, Tania Murray. 2007. The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics. Durham: Duke University Press Books.

Jensen, Derrick. 2006. Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Klein, Naomi. 2014. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Simon and Schuster.

Maldonado-Torres, Nelson. 2007. “On the Coloniality of Being.” Cultural Studies 21 (2–3): 240–70. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502380601162548.

Mignolo, Walter. 2011. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Duke University Press.

Mitchell, Timothy. 2002. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. 2014. The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. Columbia University Press.

Quijano, Aníbal. 2007. “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality.” Cultural Studies 21 (2–3): 168–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502380601164353.

Rediker, Marcus. 2007. The Slave Ship: A Human History. Penguin.

Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press.

———. 2017. Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. 1 edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Veracini, L. 2015. The Settler Colonial Present. Springer.

Further reading: Cruise industry scholarship
Klein, Ross A. 2002. Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Ship Industry. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Artini, Luh Putu, Pam Nilan, and Steven Threadgold. 2011. “Young Indonesian Cruise Workers, Symbolic Violence and International Class Relations.” Asian Journal of Social Science 7 (6).

Terry, William C. 2009. “Working on the Water: On Legal Space and Seafarer Protection in the Cruise Industry.” Economic Geography 85 (4): 463–82. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-8287.2009.01045.x.

———. 2014. “The Perfect Worker: Discursive Makings of Filipinos in the Workplace Hierarchy of the Globalized Cruise Industry.” Social & Cultural Geography 15 (1): 73–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2013.864781.

Wood, Robert E. 2000. “Caribbean Cruise Tourism: Globalization at Sea.” Annals of Tourism Research 27 (2): 345–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0160-7383(99)00073-0.

Further reading: Recent news reports
Carr, Austin, and Chris Palmeri. 2020. “Carnival Executives Knew They Had a Virus Problem, But Kept the Party Going.” Bloomberg Businessweek, April 15, 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-carnival-cruise-coronavirus/.

Griffiths, James, and Jackie Castillo. 2020. “Almost 60% of Passengers on Board Antarctic Cruise Ship Have Coronavirus.” CNN, April 8, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/07/americas/greg-mortimer-cruise-ship-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html.

Ha, K Oanh, and Jonathan Levin. 2020. “Nightmare at Sea Ends in Death for Some Cruise-Ship Workers.” Bloomberg, May 12, 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-12/nightmare-at-sea-ends-in-death-for-some-cruise-ship-workers.

Lopez, Louis-Valentin. 2020. “Quatre morts, passagers grippés, refus d’accoster : chronologie de la croisière infernale du paquebot Zaandam.” March 31, 2020. https://www.franceinter.fr/societe/quatre-morts-passagers-grippes-refus-d-accoster-chronologie-de-la-croisiere-infernale-du-paquebot-zaandam.

Matousek, Mark. 2020. “Working on a Cruise Ship Can Be Brutal — but 2 Lawyers Who Represent Cruise Workers Explain Why Even Terrible Cruise-Ship Jobs Can Be Attractive.” Business Insider, April 3, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/why-cruise-ship-workers-take-brutal-jobs-2018-11.

McCormick, Erin, and Patrick Greenfield. 2020. “Revealed: 100,000 Crew Never Made It off Cruise Ships amid Coronavirus Crisis.” The Guardian, April 30, 2020, sec. Environment. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/30/no-end-in-sight-100000-crew-on-cruise-ships-stranded-at-sea-coronavirus.

Ramonet, Ignacio. 2020. “Coronavirus a bordo: La odisea del Zaandam, crucero maldito.” NODAL, May 31, 2020. https://www.nodal.am/2020/05/coronavirus-a-bordo-la-odisea-del-zaandam-crucero-maldito-por-ignacio-ramonet/.

Yingst, Alexandra. 2020. “‘I Really Need to Go Home’: The Cruise Ship Employees Still Stuck at Sea.” Vice (blog). May 20, 2020. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/g5pb54/i-really-need-to-go-home-the-cruise-ship-employees-still-stuck-at-sea.

Hi, I’m Teo Wickland, a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. My research focuses on naturecultural aspects of transportation: How transportation systems are culturally, environmentally and historically specific; How transportation is implicated in system of power; How the ways that we move relate to the ways that we think and relate. My research is driven by my desires to promote justice, diversity, and abundant possibility—in, of and through transportation. I believe in pluralistic futures, by which I mean both: the potential for multiple, radically different futures to come to pass; and the feasibility and value of futures full of diversity. In particular, I believe that diverse, culturally- and ecologically-informed transportation paradigms are essential to the abundant futures we collectively desire.