The first passage that caught my attention in Blumenberg’s book was “Enemies.” There are two sailors on a boat, and since they hate each other so much, one stands on the stern. The other sees him there and chooses to stand on the bow. When the ship is sinking, the man on the stern asks which end will sink first. When he hears that it is the bow, despite certain death, he feels happiness knowing that his enemy will die first.
In this situation, the stern of the ship is a metaphor for being in a better or safer position than your enemy. I feel that the entire situation described by the men on the ship happens in life quite a lot. If you are in any sort of situation where you and an enemy of yours is, you are likely to put yourself in a position where no matter what happens, you will have a better outcome. This may mean that nothing bad happens, but you will leave knowing that if something had, you would have been better off. This feeling alone makes one feel superior to his enemy, even though there was no life or death outcome.
Blumenberg brings up the point that the man on the bow, and how, though all we can do is guess, he feels that the man on the stern is feeling worse than him, knowing that death is coming, but he has to wait it out longer. I think that once Blumenberg brought this up, it was to show that no one wants to be seen as losing in a situation. While yes, being the man on the bow, knowing you will die first is bad, he must think that it is worse to have to wait for death.
I think that despite the fact that the majority of the time we are not in life or death situations with our enemies, we like knowing that if anything were to happen in a situation, we would fare better than our enemy. Yes, the man on the bow will die first. But, the man on the stern will have to suffer for a longer time knowing that death will happen. While the idea of two men who each hate the other are on the two ends of a boat that is sinking is a bit unrealistic, it is not a stretch to say that people often think about how they can end up in a better situation than their enemy.