Saturday, January 17, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 126-127

Chapter 126: The Life-Buoy

I wanted to know what "carved Roman slave" was referring to, googled it, and found a cache of that stuff that makes parents foam at the mouth when they think of their poor innocent children (what about the children?!!) getting access to the internets at the library. Kids, do not google "carved Roman slave" even if you want to know what Melville is referring to in Moby Dick. Well, whatever you do don't click on it at home because you takes your chances with spyware and viruses, among other things.

So the crew were spooked by eerie ghost-like cries, scaring them into a frozen fright. Ahab tosses it's simple...that was seals, "dams that had lost their cubs."

But this only the more affected some of them, because most mariners cherish a very superstitious feeling about seals, arising not only from their peculiar tones when in distress, but also from the human look of their round heads and semi-intelligent faces, seen peeringly uprising from the water alongside. In the sea, under certain circumstances, seals have more than once been mistaken for men.
Ah. So that would explain silkies. (Which makes me think of The Secret of Roan Inish, and how it played for oh about TWO YEARS, or was it longer, at CineMagic. I lived just about across the street, and I kept watching for it to change. I presumed it had something to do with financial difficulties, rather than that they really liked the movie. I digress.)

Man overboard. Life-buoy launched. Life-buoy sinks. What did I say at the very beginning about this ramshackle ship? Ishmael had to know from the very beginning. One by one the life-saving devices of the mariner are lost. Doomed. They are doomed. But we know Ishmael makes it, or we wouldn't have these tales of the sea.

Queequeg volunteers his coffin for a new life-buoy. Way to go, Q. The carpenter makes it, muttering and kvetching about it all the while.

Chapter 127: The Deck
"Then tell me; art thou not an arrant, all-grasping, inter-meddling, monopolizing, heathenish old scamp, to be one day making legs, and the next day coffins to clap them in, and yet again life-buoys out of those same coffins? Thou art as unprincipled as the gods, and as much of a jack-of-all-trades."
Haha! Ahab calling the carpenter unprincipled. That's good. Do I detect a bit of Shakespearean humor here, like the players all just missing each other in A Midsummer Night's Dream? I asked myself that, and didn't realize this
the grave-digger in the play sings
refers to Hamlet. But could Ahab contain a little bit of Puck, bringing chaos into all the other players' worlds? He's a bit scarier than Puck though.
Carpenter: "Faith, Sir, I've--"
Ahab: "Faith? What's that?"
Carpenter: "Why, faith, Sir, it's only a sort of exclamation-like--that's all, Sir."
Ahab: "Um, um; go on."
Carpenter: "I was about to say, Sir, that--"
Ahab: "Art thou a silk-worm? Dost thou spin thy own shroud out of thyself? Look at thy bosom! Despatch! and get these traps out of sight."
A man of no faith. Hmmm. Ahab mutters to himself...
See! that thing rests on two line-tubs, full of tow-lines.... Oh! how immaterial are all materials! What things real are there, but imponderable thoughts? Here now's the very dreaded symbol of grim death, by a mere hap, made the expressive sign of the help and hope of most endangered life. A life-buoy of a coffin!
Again, how very Buddhist of him.
Now, then, Pip, we'll talk this over; I do suck most wondrous philosophies from thee! Some unknown conduits from the unknown worlds must empty into thee!"
Oh yeah! Pip saw God or something when he was left at sea. Their minds have cracked open, and they speak to each other like no other. That's why they like each other.

[Damn. I've read more, but have to quit for bed. Tomorrow, I am determined to finish.]

1 comment:

MegDC said...

Ha, I didn't have much luck with "carved Roman slave" either--I thought at first he was referring to this guy, but it turns out he's part of a series.