I am so behind already this week...but I expected so with the holidays. While I am enjoying the reading, I'm still doing a bit of procrastinating. I haven't felt much like sitting at my desk and typing either. Murasaki wrote in the comments about finding the chapel scenes funny, and I thought I hadn't read carefully, but I just hadn't read that far yet. Naughty Murasaki! No fair giving bits away ahead of time.
Chapter 5: Breakfast
...a brown and brawny company, with bosky beards; an unshorn, shaggy set, all wearing monkey jackets for morning gowns.The annotated powermobydick explains bosky...forest-like...but not monkey-jackets. I did find my internal image of this scene funny. "Grub, ho!" The narrator sees that too, revealing the illusion of the saying that men who have seen the world, thereby become quite at ease in manner, quite self-possessed in company. I have a soft spot for "bashful bears."
Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of whom without the slightest bashfulness had boarded great whales on the high seas—entire strangers to them—and duelled them dead without winking; and yet, here they sat at a social breakfast table—all of the same calling, all of kindred tastes—looking round as sheepishly at each other.
Chapter 6: The Street
Extravagance and uncouthiness mixed...sounds kinda like the gold rush, or backstage with a rock star.
And the women of New Bedford, they bloom like their own red roses.Is this bloom due to the riches, or the absences of their men?
Chapter 7: The Chapel
Memorial marble tablets are the first things to capture the attention of the congregation.
...how it is that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we nevertheless maintain are dwelling in unspeakable bliss; why all the living so strive to hush all the dead; wherefore but the rumor of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a whole city. All these things are not without their meanings.I am really taken with the image of faith as a jackal. This sets a tone for me, and I'm not yet finding this humorous. I think a jackal-like Faith has deep roots in this country, and it is not pretty. It is the kind of faith that votes for a president because he is "a man of God." It is the kind of faith that willfully puts others in harm's way to fulfill the beliefs of that faith. It is the kind of faith that will court death due to the fear of death. I wonder how this will play out, how Melville sees it.
But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.
Ishmael is merry at the thought of a dramatic valorous death.
Chapter 8: The Pulpit
The famous Father Mapple climbs into the pulpit on a ship's ladder and pulls it up after himself. Ishmael sees the pulpit as "a self-containing stronghold—a lofty Ehrenbreitstein, with a perennial well of water within the walls." Like that fortress (see link for photo), this pulpit is a place to fortify against evil. Maybe I've been reading too much from atheist bloggers, but I find that more ominous than humorous. Ishmael feels more dead than alive, it seems. His bodily substance is nothing compared to who he really is. So is this fake ship's prow more real to him than the real ship's prow?
Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.