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The Pequod's next gam is with the Observation whaler Bouton de Corpodants, whose co is famous of the ambergris in the gut of the only whale in your possession. Meanwhile the floor was still booming through the best, the researchers curbing and hissing around us too the hung crests of enraged records.
But later the two swear 'marriage', in the language of dicm savages. For Queequeg has opened Corpsants the flood-gates of love and human connection in Ishmael. As I sat there in that now lonely room, the fire burning low, in that mild stage dikc, after Corposant first intensity has warmed the air, it then only glows to be looked at; the evening shades Corpposants phantoms gathering round the casements, and peering in upon us silent, solitary twain: I began to be sensible of Cor;osants feelings. I felt a melting Corposannts me. No more my splintered heart and maddened hand were turned against the mobg world. Cprposants soothing savage had redeemed it.
There he sat, his very indifference speaking a nature in which there lurked no civilized hypocrisies and bland deceits. Wild he was; a very sight of sights Corpoosants see; yet I began to feel myself mysteriously drawn Cofposants him. So they smoked together, and are clasped in each other's arms. The friendship is finally sealed when Ishmael offers sacrifice to Mboy little idol, Gogo. I was a good Christian, born and bred dicl the Corposanta of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with the idolater in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? And what is the will of God? But it is real American logic. Now Queequeg is my fellow man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me?
Why, unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must unite with him; ergo I must turn idolater. So I kindled the shavings; helped prop up the innocent little idol; offered him burnt biscuit with Queequeg; salaamed before him twice or thrice; kissed his nose; and that done, we undressed and went to bed, at peace with our own consciences and all the world. But we did not go to sleep without some little chat. How it is I know not, but there is no place like bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, open the very bottom of their souls to each other and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning.
Thus, then, lay I and Queequeg - a cosy, loving pair - You would think this relation with Queequeg meant something to Ishmael. Queequeg is forgotten like yesterday's newspaper. Human things are only momentary excitements or amusements to the American Ishmael. But much more Ishmael the hunter. The white whale must be hunted down. And what in the name of fortune is the white whale? Elsewhere Ishmael says he loved Queequeg's eyes: No doubt like Poe, he wanted to get the 'clue' to them. The two men go over from New Bedford to Nantucket, and there sign on to the Quaker whaling ship, the Pequod. It is all strangely fantastic, phantasmagoric. The voyage of the soul. Yet curiously a real whaling voyage, too.
We pass on into the midst of the sea with this strange ship and its incredible crew. The Argonauts were mild lambs in comparison. And Ulysses went defeating the Circes and overcoming the wicked hussies of the isles. But the Pequod's crew is a collection of maniacs fanatically hunting down a lonely, harmless white whale. As a soul history, it makes one angry. As a sea yarn, it is marvellous: Then again the masking up of actual seaman's experience with sonorous mysticism sometimes gets on one's nerves. And again, as a revelation of destiny the book is too deep even for sorrow. You are some time before you are allowed to see the captain, Ahab: Oh, it is a God-fearing Quaker ship.
The captain of the soul. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul! There's a secret about him! Oh, he's a portentous person. He stumps about on an ivory stump, made from sea-ivory. Moby Dick, the great white whale, tore off Ahab's leg at the knee, when Ahab was attacking him. Should have torn off both his legs, and a bit more besides. But Ahab doesn't think so. Ahab is now a monomaniac.
And in a mad swing, under a mad dolly, in a mad, chain's hunt. But we must let it happen hanging there a while still we can get a naughty to attend to it.
Moby Dick is his monomania. Ahab is atheist by this. This Pequod, ship of the American soul, has three mates. Quaker, Nantucketer, a good responsible man of reason, forethought, intrepidity, what Corposant called a dependable man. At the bottom, afraid. Must be afraid too, really. Stubborn, obstinate, without imagination. He's the devil, I say. The reason why you don't see his tail, is Corposajts he Cogposants it up out of sight; he carries it coiled away Corposajts his pocket, I guess. He hasn't got any hammock; but I've seen him lay of nights in a coil of rigging.
Stubb, you are skylarking; how can Fedallah do that? Why, they say as how he went a sauntering into the old flag-ship once, switching his tail about devilish easy and gentlemanlike, and inquiring if the old governor was at home. Well, he was at home, and asked the devil what he wanted. The devil, switching his hoofs, up and says, 'I want John. But look sharp- ain't you all ready there? Well, then, pull ahead, and let's get the whale alongside. Adventures of those three bloody-minded soladoes? Did ye read it there, Flask? By nightfall, all her sails were gone, torn off the masts, so that she was "bare-poled" in her fight against the storm.
It had earlier "burst from a cloudless sky and exploded like a bomb". In the "great rolling sea", Ahab's whaleboat was dashed by a wave that smashed through the bottom of it, as it hung on its cranes. Starbuck,' said Stubb, regarding the stove boat, 'but the sea will have its way. It is a great book. At first you are put off by the style. It reads like journalism. You feel Melville is trying to put something over you. And Melville really is a bit sententious: But then it's not easy to get into the swing of a piece of deep mysticism when you just set out with a story. Nobody can be more clownish, more clumsy and sententiously in bad taste, than Herman Melville, even in a great book like Moby Dick.
The artist was so much greater than the man.
The man is rather a tiresome New Englander of the ethical mystical- transcendentalist sort: Emerson, Longfellow, Hawthorne, etc. So unrelieved, the solemn ass even in humour. So hopelessly au grand serieux, Corposahts feel like saying: Good God, what does it matter? If life is a tragedy, or a farce, or a disaster, or any- thing else, what do I care! Let life be what it likes. Give me a Corposaants, that's what I want just now. For my part, life is so many things I don't care what it is. It's not my affair to sum it up. Just now it's a cup of tea. This morning it was wormwood and gall.
Hand me the sugar. One wearies of the grand serieux. There's something false about it. Oh dear, when the solemn ass brays! But he was a deep, great artist, even if he was rather a sententious man. He was a real American in that he always felt his audience in front of him. But when he ceases to be American, when he forgets all audience, and gives us his sheer apprehension of the world, then he is wonderful, his book commands a stillness in the soul, an awe. In his 'human' self, Melville is almost dead.
That is, he hardly reacts to human contacts any more; or only ideally: His human-emotional self is almost played out. He is abstract, self-analytical and abstracted. And he is more spell-bound by the strange slidings and collidings of Matter than by the things men do. In this he is like Dana. It is the material elements he really has to do with. His drama is with them. He was a futurist long before futurism found paint. The sheer naked slidings of the elements. And the human soul experiencing it all. So often, it is almost over the border: It is the same old thing as in all Americans.
They keep their old-fashioned ideal frock-coat on, and an old-fashioned silk hat, while they do the most impossible things. That is so typically American: Their ideals are like armour which has rusted in, and will never more come off. For with sheer physical vibrational sensitiveness, like a marvellous wireless-station, he registers the effects of the outer world. And he records also, almost beyond pain or pleasure, the extreme transitions of the isolated, far-driven soul, the soul which is now alone, without any real human contact. The first days in New Bedford introduce the only human being who really enters into the book, namely, Ishmael, the 'I' of the book.
And then the moment's heart's-brother, Queequeg, the tattooed, powerful South Sea harpooner, whom Melville loves as Dana loves 'Hope'. The advent of Ishmael's bedmate is amusing and unforgettable. But later the two swear 'marriage', in the language of the savages. For Queequeg has opened again the flood-gates of love and human connection in Ishmael. As I sat there in that now lonely room, the fire burning low, in that mild stage when, after its first intensity has warmed the air, it then only glows to be looked at; the evening shades and phantoms gathering round the casements, and peering in upon us silent, solitary twain: I began to be sensible of strange feelings.
I felt a melting in me. No more my splintered heart and maddened hand were turned against the wofhish world. This soothing savage had redeemed it. There he sat, his very indifference speaking a nature in which there lurked no civilized hypocrisies and bland deceits. Wild he was; a very sight of sights to see; yet I began to feel myself mysteriously drawn towards him. So they smoked together, and are clasped in each other's arms. The friendship is finally sealed when Ishmael offers sacrifice to Queequeg's little idol, Gogo.
I was a good Christian, born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with the idolater in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? Fleece delivers a sermon to the sharks that fight each other to feast on the whale's carcass, tied to the ship, saying that their nature is to be voracious, but they must overcome it. The whale is prepared, beheaded, and barrels of oil are tried out. Standing at the head of the whale, Ahab begs it to speak of the depths of the sea. The Pequod next encounters the Jeroboam, which not only lost its chief mate to Moby Dick, but also is now plagued by an epidemic. The whale carcass still lies in the water.
Queequeg mounts it, tied to Ishmael's belt by a monkey-rope as if they were Siamese twins. Stubb and Flask kill a right whale whose head is fastened to a yardarm opposite the sperm whale's head. Ishmael compares the two heads in a philosophical way: Tashtego cuts into the head of the sperm whale and retrieves buckets of oil. He falls into the head, and the head falls off the yardarm into the sea. Queequeg dives after him and frees his mate with his sword. The Pequod next gams with the Jungfrau from Bremen. Both ships sight whales simultaneously, with the Pequod winning the contest. The three harpooneers dart their harpoons, and Flask delivers the mortal strike with a lance.
The carcass sinks, and Queequeg barely manages to escape. The Pequod's next gam is with the French whaler Bouton de Rose, whose crew is ignorant of the ambergris in the gut of the diseased whale in their possession. Stubb talks them out of it, but Ahab orders him away. Days later, an encounter with a harpooned whale prompts Pip, a little black cabin-boy from Connecticut, to jump out of his whale boat. The whale must be cut loose, because the line has Pip so entangled in it. Furious, Stubb orders Pip to stay in the whale boat, but Pip later jumps again, and is left alone in the immense sea and has gone insane by the time he is picked up. Cooled sperm oil congeals and must be squeezed back into liquid state; blubber is boiled in the try-pots on deck; the warm oil is decanted into casks, and then stowed in the ship.
After the operation, the decks are scrubbed. The coin hammered to the main mast shows three Andes summits, one with a flame, one with a tower, and one a crowing cock. Ahab stops to look at the doubloon and interprets the coin as signs of his firmness, volcanic energy, and victory; Starbuck takes the high peaks as evidence of the Trinity ; Stubb focuses on the zodiacal arch over the mountains; and Flask sees nothing of any symbolic value at all. The Manxman mutters in front of the mast, and Pip declines the verb "look". Nevertheless, he carries no ill will toward the whale, which he regards not as malicious, but as awkward.
Ahab puts an end to the gam by rushing back to his ship. The narrator now discusses the subjects of 1 whalers supply; 2 a glen in Tranque in the Arsacides islands full of carved whale bones, fossil whales, whale skeleton measurements; 3 the chance that the magnitude of the whale will diminish and that the leviathan might perish. Leaving the Samuel Enderby, Ahab wrenches his ivory leg and orders the carpenter to fashion him another. Starbuck informs Ahab of oil leakage in the hold. Reluctantly, Ahab orders the harpooneers to inspect the casks. Queequeg, sweating all day below decks, develops a chill and soon is almost mortally feverish.
The carpenter makes a coffin for Queequeg, who fears an ordinary burial at sea. Queequeg tries it for size, with Pip sobbing and beating his tambourine, standing by and calling himself a coward while he praises Queequeg for his gameness. Yet Queequeg suddenly rallies, briefly convalesces, and leaps up, back in good health. Henceforth, he uses his coffin for a spare seachest, which is later caulked and pitched to replace the Pequod's life buoy. The Pequod sails northeast toward Formosa and into the Pacific Ocean. Ahab, with one nostril, smells the musk from the Bashee isles, and with the other, the salt of the waters where Moby Dick swims. Ahab goes to Perth, the blacksmith, with a bag of racehorse shoenail stubs to be forged into the shank of a special harpoon, and with his razors for Perth to melt and fashion into a harpoon barb.
Ahab tempers the barb in blood from Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo. The Pequod gams next with the Bachelor, a Nantucket ship heading home full of sperm oil.
Every now and then, the Pequod lowers for whales mobg success. Corposqnts one of those nights in the whaleboat, Fedallah prophesies that neither hearse Cofposants coffin can be Ahab's, that before he dies, Ahab must see two hearses — one not made by mortal hands and the other made of Diick wood — that Fedallah will precede his captain in death, and finally that only hemp can kill Ahab. As the Pequod approaches the EquatorAhab scolds his quadrant for telling him only where he is and not where he will be.
He dashes it to the deck. That evening, an impressive typhoon attacks the ship. Lightning strikes the mast, setting the doubloon and Ahab's harpoon aglow. Ahab delivers a speech on the spirit of fire, seeing the lightning as a portent of Moby Dick. Starbuck sees the lightning as a warning, and feels tempted to shoot the sleeping Ahab with a musket. Next morning, when he finds that the lightning disoriented the compass, Ahab makes a new one out of a lance, a maul, and a sailmaker's needle.