Adrienne Rich: Diving into the Wreck

I love how the “wreck” is a metaphor for the old traditions, for the hegemony. The wreck could be an essay written on Homer by some tweedy old white hair that secures his tenure. The old ways are dead, but they are still beautiful and mysterious with new eyes. Rich is showing us that we, too have to “breathe differently down here.”.

I love her portrayal of the struggle of a woman entering these waters, “here alone”, unlike Cousteau (a man) and his well funded and celebrated team. She doesn’t even know “when the ocean will begin” because she doesn’t know at what point her exploration will upset the traditional ways of doing things. Everything is new. And she feels as awkward as wearing a diving suit, she is self conscious as she makes the initial attempt, but once underwater she is a “mermaid” in the “deep element”. Identity slide away and “I am she: I am he” – gender down here really means nothing, only how we explore the wreck – the old art.