Friday, January 23, 2009

The Aeneid: Book 1

The AeneidI came across this interview with Ursula LeGuin, and it reminded me that I have yet to read her book Lavinia. (And that of course is because I bought it so I have no library due date.) I may have to read that soon though, because Lavinia is a character from The Aeneid who says nothing...Ursula was curious about Lavinia's story so she wrote the book. Not before Ursula re-learned her Latin for The Aeneid. I got that straight from Ursula's mouth when she spoke at our staff day.

The Aeneid is reading much faster than either Homer or Moby Dick. It is ummm rather sparse after those. It's a good thing, because I have nowhere near the same amount of time to read it. I'll be linking to the free digital Perseus, but I am reading the Fagles translation.

Book 1: Safe Haven After Storm
Juno's mad, sends the Winds to wreck the ships of Aeneus. Neptune scolds the Winds for usurping his territory, and he calms the storm. Part of Juno's interference has to do with the future the Fates were spinning. Son of Maia -> Mercury -> Hermes. I need another Greek/Roman Gods chart. I know the main gods, but not such names a Maia.

Aeneus -> son of Venus.
Dido -> husband (Sychaeus) killed by her brother (Pygmalion).

She fled with the money, establishes her own country. She is an exile, as is Aeneus. I mean Venus helps Aeneus while in disguise. He doesn't appreciate that.

"Why, you too, cruel as the rest? So often
you ridicule your son with your disguises!" (494-5)
Aeneus gives gifts, "Helen's glory...handiwork of Leda..." ...Helen -> daughter of Leda.

Venus sends Cupid to be Aeneus' son and make Dido fall in love with the young man.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Participation

For the first time in my life I wished to see the inauguration of a new President. I understand I am not alone in that sentiment. Oh, and the first time in 8 years I can say and write and think President of the United States without an internal grimace. I have never believed George W. Bush was legitimately our pResident.

Here's what I did while I watched portions of the tivoed C-Span broadcast. It can be found here at Cubecraft. Treehugger told me about it.

UPDATE: I just got to hour 6, 4:07 PM ET on the coverage, and saw big signs from the cheering audience as President and Mrs. Obama walk down the blvd. The signs said "Arrest Bush." I just read that some think Bush did not do many pardons because then those people would be free to talk about just what they did. Commuted, not so free to do so.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Update on Jig

After her visit to the vet last week, our poor Jig developed nausea again. It was the weekend, so we took her to Dove Lewis Animal Hospital. We wanted her to be able to eat and get hydrated. That was yesterday.

Because it is a 24 hour emergency center, if animals come in with greater emergencies, they get treated first. While we were there a man brought a meowing cat in a box. He found her after she'd been hit by a car. There were books there in case kids had to wait a while for their pets to be seen. The books were almost all about animals.

Today we called the vet we went to in the first place to get that ultra-sound. If they couldn't get her in, we wanted to return to Dove Lewis. We got in.

So now we know that Jig does not have a tumor, but she does have a diaphragmatic hernia, and her liver bulges through it a little. It could be she's had this almost all her life. It could be the liver has slipped through more; it could be there is some increased swelling. It could be this has nothing to do with her nausea, and what she has is kitty acid reflux. One friend said to me on Facebook that her cat has acid, and got treated easily. That's not something they can find indications for, so the way to find out is through treatment.

So little Jig got another anti-nausea shot, some more fluids, and some antacid pills. In addition, we are to give her a small amount of Mylanta "to coat the esophagus."

It makes sense that might be it. She's always been easily anxious, and had a small issue with vomiting, but nothing this bad. Thanks to the shots, she can eat...and she is hungry.

If she doesn't feel better from this, surgery is an option to fix the hernia.

I must say I am grateful my sweetie makes enough money that we can afford this, and we didn't have to make the agonizing decision to refuse treatment because we couldn't afford it.

Moby Dick: Chapters 133 - Epilogue

Chapter 133: The Chase--First Day


[Ahab] suddenly thrust out his face fiercely, snuffing up the sea air as a sagacious ship's dog will, in drawing nigh to some barbarous isle. He declared that a whale must be near.

...A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!"
It's not just a white hump. It's a "sparkling hump."
To the credulous mariners it seemed the same silent spout they had so long ago beheld in the moonlit Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
I knew it. We all knew it, didn't we?
...not Jove, not that great majesty Supreme! did surpass the glorified White Whale as he so divinely swam.
The bluish pearl-white of the inside of the jaw was within six inches of Ahab's head, and reached higher than that. In this attitude the White Whale now shook the slight cedar as a mildly cruel cat her mouse.
...then it was that monomaniac Ahab, furious with this tantalizing vicinity of his foe, which placed him all alive and helpless in the very jaws he hated; frenzied with all this, he seized the long bone with his naked hands, and wildly strove to wrench it from its gripe.
The birds flew round, the boat wheeled round...
But soon resuming his horizontal attitude, Moby Dick swam swiftly round and round the wrecked crew; sideways churning the water in his vengeful wake, as if lashing himself up to still another and more deadly assault.
Then advancing towards the doubloon in the main-mast-- "Men, this gold is mine, for I earned it; but I shall let it abide here till the White Whale is dead; and then, whosoever of ye first raises him, upon the day he shall be killed, this gold is that man's; and if on that day I shall again raise him, then, ten times its sum shall be divided among all of ye! Away now!--the deck is thine, Sir."
The terms have changed. Is it now like a blessing, one that Ahab received and can now bestow on others? Can he bestow fortunes?

Chapter 134: The Chase--Second Day
The hand of Fate had snatched all their souls; and by the stirring perils of the previous day; the rack of the past night's suspense; the fixed, unfearing, blind, reckless way in which their wild craft went plunging towards its flying mark; by all these things, their hearts were bowled along. The wind that made great bellies of their sails, and rushed the vessel on by arms invisible as irresistible; this seemed the symbol of that unseen agency which so enslaved them to the race.

They were one man, not thirty. For as the one ship that held them all; though it was put together of all contrasting things--oak, and maple, and pine wood; iron, and pitch, and hemp.... even so, all the individualities of the crew, this man's valor, that man's fear; guilt and guiltiness, all varieties were welded into oneness, and were all directed to that fatal goal which Ahab their one lord and keel did point to.
It all comes down to this one thing. The book, the voyage, the all focuses in on this one purpose. Like the sea being one organism, now the ship is one organism.
Rising with his utmost velocity from the furthest depths, the Sperm Whale thus booms his entire bulk into the pure element of air, and piling up a mountain of dazzling foam, shows his place to the distance of seven miles and more.
The chase is on again. Ahab takes to his boat. His boat? His was destroyed. Are these like Star Trek runabouts? Where do all these spares come from?
But at last in his untraceable evolutions, the White Whale so crossed and recrossed, and in a thousand ways entangled the slack of the three lines now fast to him, that they foreshortened, and, of themselves, warped the devoted boats towards the planted irons in him...
Like dogs that have run around their chains' stakes til they have no length left.
...the White Whale made a sudden rush among the remaining tangles of the other lines; by so doing, irresistibly dragged the more involved boats of Stubb and Flask towards his flukes; dashed them together...
What a world wide wrestling move.

But quickly they returned to him with the tidings that the Parsee was nowhere to be found.

"Aye, Sir," said Stubb--"caught among the tangles of your line--I thought I saw him dragging under.

...Ahab is for ever Ahab, man. This whole act's immutably decreed. 'Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates' lieutenant; I act under orders.

Chapter 135: The Chase--Third Day
Here's food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels; that's tingling enough for mortal man! to think's audacity. God only has that right and privilege. Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that.
So Ahab says. It seems he did an awful lot of thinking to support that emotion, to get that emotion to that level of rigidness, and to fulfill that emotion.
Were I the wind, I'd blow no more on such a wicked, miserable world. I'd crawl somewhere to a cave, and slink there. And yet, 'tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind! who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow. Run tilting at it, and you but run through it. ...these same Trades that so directly blow my good ship on; these Trades, or something like them--something so unchangeable, and full as strong, blow my keeled soul along!
Tilting at it? Like Don Quixote?

Ahab talks to the mast-head. Goodbye, mast-head. Pip warns of the sharks from his cave in the ship. Starbuck talks to the mast-head. Witness, mast-head. Sharks whittle down the oars of Ahab's boat.
Hearing the tremendous rush of the sea-crashing boat, the whale wheeled round to present his blank forehead at bay; but in that evolution, catching sight of the nearing black hull of the ship; seemingly seeing in it the source of all his persecutions; bethinking it--it may be--a larger and nobler foe; of a sudden, he bore down upon its advancing prow, smiting his jaws amid fiery showers of foam.
Doom for all. Why, as the ship goes down, does Tashtego continue to hammer the flag in place on the mainmast?
...and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it. Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.
Hmmm. The End.

but wait...


I was thinking about death. We all die. How will we live til our death? This is what it is all about. Always a little thought of Job slips in there for me. How did he live through all that death, to marry again? So too Ishmael thinks of Job, not Jonah...
"And I only am escaped alone to tell thee. " Job

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 128-132

Chapter 128: The Pequod Meets the Rachel

The usual question...not the usual answer.
"Where was he?--not killed!--not killed!" cried Ahab, closely advancing.
"How was it?"

Ahab does not want to be deprived of his revenge. This now is his sole reason for being. The Rachel has lost a boat to the White Whale. Included on that boat, the Captain's son. That captain hopes the Pequod will help them search.
"Avast," cried Ahab--"touch not a rope-yarn"; then in a voice that prolongingly moulded every word--"Captain Gardiner, I will not do it. Even now I lose time. Good bye, good bye. God bless ye, man, and may I forgive myself, but I must go.
He has become inhuman.

Chapter 129: The Cabin
"They tell me, Sir, that Stubb did once desert poor little Pip, whose drowned bones now show white, for all the blackness of his living skin. But I will never desert ye, Sir, as Stubb did him. Sir, I must go with ye."
But Ahab will not have his Pip near, sends him to his cabin.

Chapter 130: The Hat
...all humor, forced or natural, vanished. Stubb no more strove to raise a smile; Starbuck no more strove to check one. Alike, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, seemed ground to finest dust, and powdered, for the time, in the clamped mortar of Ahab's iron soul. Like machines, they dumbly moved about the deck, ever conscious that the old man's despot eye was on them.
::shiver:: I can just feel the thickness of the air, the heaviness of their purpose.
...even as Ahab's eyes so awed the crew's, the inscrutable Parsee's glance awed his...
Ahab no longer enters his cabin. ...and Pip always stays in? Are they two halves of a coin? The masculine and the feminine?
"I will have the first sight of the whale myself,"--he said. "Aye! Ahab must have the doubloon!"
Ahab has merged with the destiny of the coin? He rigs a basket so he can see far among the masts. Starbuck holds the rope that keeps him safe.
So Ahab's proceedings in this matter were not unusual; the only strange thing about them seemed to be, that Starbuck, almost the one only man who had ever ventured to oppose him with anything in the slightest degree approaching to decision...was the very man he should select for his watchman; freely giving his whole life into such an otherwise distrusted person's hands.
Not strange to me at all, Ishmael. Starbuck he could trust to do the moral thing. Ahab knows in spite of his obsession that Starbuck has the most upright moral character of any on his ship. of those red-billed savage sea-hawks which so often fly incommodiously close round the manned mast-heads of whalemen in these latitudes...came wheeling and screaming round his head in a maze of untrackably swift circlings. Then it darted a thousand feet straight up into the air; then spiralized downwards, and went eddying again round his head.

"Your hat, your hat, Sir!" suddenly cried the Sicilian seamanBut already the sable wing was before the old man's eyes; the long hooked bill at his head: with a scream, the black hawk darted away with his prize.
Removal of hat = good omen for Tarquin, 5th King of Rome.
Removal of hat = bad omen for Ahab.
Why? Tarquin's hat was replaced by the same bird. Ahab's hat...gone for good.

Chapter 131: The Pequod Meets the Delight

White whale seen? Yes. Killed? Whale, no. Five men, yes. The Pequod flees the sea burial.
As Ahab now glided from the dejected Delight, the strange life-buoy hanging at the Pequod's stern came into conspicuous relief.

"Ha! yonder! look yonder, men!" cried a foreboding voice in her wake. "In vain, oh, ye strangers, ye fly our sad burial; ye but turn us your taffrail to show us your coffin!"

Chapter 132: The Symphony
The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman's look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson's chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glided the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these were the gentle thoughts of the feminine air...
Wouldn't the sun ordinally represent the masculine, and the sea the feminine? Heat, father sky, mother earth, water feminine? This is all upside down.
...but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rushed mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these were the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea.
I really really like that idea of the animals in the sea being the thoughts of the sea.
That glad, happy air, that winsome sky, did at last stroke and caress him; the step-mother world, so long cruel--forbidding--now threw affectionate arms round his stubborn neck... From beneath his slouched hat Ahab dropped a tear into the sea; nor did all the Pacific contain such wealth as that one wee drop.
This could be the baptismal drop that cleanses his soul, if he allowed it. Ahab to Starbuck:
When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain's exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without--oh, weariness! heaviness! ...what a forty years' fool--fool--old fool, has old Ahab been! ...Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God.
Starbuck attempts to persuade him to turn back. "Oh my Captain! my Captain!" It almost seems Ahab will be persuaded, but...
But Ahab's glance was averted; like a blighted fruit tree he shook, and cast his last, cindered apple to the soil.

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.]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 116-125

Chapter 116: The Dying Whale
Ahab to the whale he killed:

In vain, oh whale, dost thou seek intercedings with yon all-quickening sun, that only calls forth life, but gives it not again. Yet dost thou, darker half, rock me with a prouder, if a darker faith. All thy unnamable imminglings, float beneath me here; I am buoyed by breaths of once living things, exhaled as air, but water now.

"Then hail, for ever hail, O sea, in whose eternal tossings the wild fowl finds his only rest. Born of earth, yet suckled by the sea; though hill and valley mothered me, ye billows are my foster-brothers!"
The more we see of Ahab, the wilder he gets. Not sure what he means a lot of the time.

Chapter 117: The Whale Watch

Started from his slumbers, Ahab, face to face, saw the Parsee; and hooped round by the gloom of the night they seemed the last men in a flooded world. "I have dreamed it again," said he.

"Of the hearses? Have I not said, old man, that neither hearse nor coffin can be thine?"

The more we see of him, the more I think Fedallah the Parsee takes that role Stubb says he does...that of the devil.
I have here two pledges that I shall yet slay Moby Dick and survive it."

"Take another pledge, old man, said the Parsee, as his eyes lighted up like fire-flies in the gloom,--Hemp only can kill thee."

"The gallows, ye mean.--I am immortal then, on land and on sea," cried Ahab, with a laugh of derision;--"Immortal on land and on sea!"

Chapter 118: The Quadrant
Then falling into a moment's revery, he again looked up towards the sun and murmured to himself: "Thou sea-mark! thou high and mighty Pilot! thou tellest me truly where I am--but canst thou cast the least hint where I shall be? Or canst thou tell where some other thing besides me is this moment living? Where is Moby Dick?
Because neither the sun nor the quadrant could tell him the future or where Moby Dick was, Ahab threw down and destroyed the quadrant. Meanwhile, his devil-man (and I hate that the Parsee/Asian man is depicted as the devil)...
...a sneering triumph that seemed meant for Ahab, and a fatalistic despair that seemed meant for himself--these passed over the mute, motionless Parsee's face. Unobserved he rose and glided away...
Hmmm. What is Fedallah really there for, I wonder? While the devilishness of Ahab's purpose disturbs Stubb, the game of it fits right in with his world view:
Well, well; I heard Ahab mutter, 'Here some one thrusts these cards into these old hands of mine; swears that I must play them, and no others.' And damn me, Ahab, but thou actest right; live in the game, and die in it!
Chapter 119: The Candles

Typhoon coming. Stubb sings, Starbuck says, "Avast..." Stubb replies:
"But I am not a brave man; never said I was a brave man; I am a coward; and I sing to keep up my spirits. And I tell you what it is, Mr. Starbuck, there's no way to stop my singing in this world but to cut my throat. And when that's done, ten to one I sing ye the doxology for a wind-up."
Starbuck speaks not only of the weather:
"The gale that now hammers at us to stave us, we can turn it into a fair wind that will drive us towards home. Yonder, to windward, all is blackness of doom; but to leeward, homeward--I see it lightens up there; but not with the lightning."
That seems to echo the departure of the happy ship Bachelor.
"Aye, aye, men!" cried Ahab. "Look up at it; mark it well; the white flame but lights the way to the White Whale! Hand me those main-mast links there; I would fain feel this pulse, and let mine beat against it; blood against fire! So."
Could Ahab's soliloquy be the antithesis to the preacher's sermon on Jonah?
Ahab's harpoon, the one forged at Perth's fire, remained firmly lashed in its conspicuous crotch...and from the keen steel barb there now came a levelled flame of pale, forked fire. As the silent harpoon burned there like a serpent's tongue, Starbuck grasped Ahab by the arm--"God, God is against thee, old man; forbear! t'is an ill voyage! ill begun, ill continued...
Chapter 120: The Deck Toward the End of the First Watch

Scratch Chapter 30 being the shortest chapter.
Ahab to Starbuck:
"Strike nothing, and stir nothing, but lash everything....Loftiest trucks were made for wildest winds, and this brain-truck of mine now sails amid the cloud-scud. Shall I strike that? Oh, none but cowards send down their brain-trucks in tempest time.
Chapter 121: Midnight-The Forecastle Bulwarks
Stubb to Flask:
I wonder, Flask, whether the world is anchored anywhere; if she is, she swings with an uncommon long cable, though. ...Halloa! whew! there goes my tarpaulin overboard; Lord, Lord, that the winds that come from heaven should be so unmannerly! This is a nasty night, lad.
Chapter 122: Midnight Aloft--Thunder and Lightning

OK, this is the shortest chapter ever. My commentary will be longer than the chapter, no doubt. Tashtego is up in the Main-top-sail yard, doesn't want thunder, wants rum. What is um, um, um? Are those grunts of effort?

Chapter 123: The Musket

Starbuck contemplates mutiny...points the musket outside Ahab's door.
But shall this crazed old man be tamely suffered to drag a whole ship's company down to doom with him?--Yes, it would make him the wilful murderer of thirty men and more, if this ship come to any deadly harm; and come to deadly harm, my soul swears this ship will, if Ahab have his way.
The yet levelled musket shook like a drunkard's arm against the panel; Starbuck seemed wrestling with an angel; but turning from the door, he placed the death-tube in its rack, and left the place.
Chapter 124: The Needle

The lightning switched the needle of the compass. The steersman steered blithely unaware until Ahab fashioned a new compass with a sail needle and turned them around. No quadrant, turned around and about by the storm, sailing the wrong way. Where are they now?
"Look ye, for yourselves, if Ahab be not the lord of the level loadstone! The sun is East, and that compass swears it!"

One after another they peered in, for nothing but their own eyes could persuade such ignorance as theirs, and one after another they slunk away.

In his fiery eyes of scorn and triumph, you then saw Ahab in all his fatal pride.

Chapter 125: The Log and Line

Now the log and line are ruined too. Ahab is undeterred.
"I crush the quadrant, the thunder turns the needles, and now the mad sea parts the log-line. But Ahab can mend all. Haul in here, Tahitian; reel up, Manxman. And look ye, let the carpenter make another log, and mend thou the line. See to it."
For some reason Ahab and Pip bond, and refer to themselves in the third person.
Ahab's cabin shall be Pip's home henceforth, while Ahab lives. Thou touchest my inmost centre, boy; thou art tied to me by cords woven of my heart-strings. Come, let's down."

"What's this? here's velvet shark-skin," intently gazing at Ahab's hand, and feeling it. "Ah, now, had poor Pip but felt so kind a thing as this, perhaps he had ne'er been lost! ...Oh, Sir, let old Perth now come and rivet these two hands together; the black one with the white, for I will not let this go."
Manxman explains: "One daft with strength, the other daft with weakness."

It's Going to be rough

Originally uploaded by hoogstra
Our cat Jig has been sick for a week or two. At first we thought it a hairball, and got her some Pounce treats for hairballs. It seemed to help a little, but no hairball. She was spitting up, and gradually stopped eating entirely, though she acted hungry. When we took her to the vet 2 days ago, we found out she had been nauseous, thus the hunger but no eating. She was also dehydrated, even though she was drinking a lot of water. The vet gave her an injection to hydrate her, and an injection to take away the nausea.

Poor little Jig, who is small anyway, was only 6 pounds. The vet also prescribed some high-calorie food designed to be enticing. Jig has eaten some, not as much as her usual, but better than this past week. The bloodwork came back negative...she does not have kidney disease or a thyroid condition...the doc's first guess, or any other kitty disease discernible through the blood.

Today we took her back to the vet to get X-Rays. This will tell us if she has cancer, or not. Who knows, perhaps she was simply dehydrated because she caught a kitty cold or something. I'm still waiting for word, and to bring her home.

When my sweetie and I returned home after dropping her off and going out for breakfast, I noticed a lifting in my heart. I recognized it due to its immediate squashing. Whenever I come home I have this light lovey feeling because I am about to open the door and say, "Hi, Jig, I'm home." And she comes out to greet me and demands a lap. No wait, she says, food and a lap. Today that feeling arose, and was immediately dashed because I remembered that she was not home; the house was empty.

And I realized when this 17 year old kitty dies, it will be really really rough, for me and for my sweetie, who brought her into my life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 107-115

Chapter 107: The Carpenter

...he was, to a certain off-handed, practical extent, alike experienced in numerous trades and callings collateral to his own...

For nothing was this man more remarkable, than for a certain impersonal stolidity as it were.... He was a stript
abstract; an unfractioned integral; uncompromised as a new-born babe; living without premeditated reference to this world or the next.
Sounds like he had a touch of autism?

Chapter 108: Ahab and the Carpenter
Hold, don't speak! And if I still feel the smart of my crushed leg, though it be now so long dissolved; then, why mayest not thou, carpenter, feel the fiery pains of hell for ever, and without a body? Hah!
Whaah?...Ahab again:
By heavens! I'll get a crucible, and into it, and dissolve myself down to one small, compendious vertebra. So.

CARPENTER (Resuming his work)

Well, well, well! Stubb knows him best of all, and Stubb always says he's queer; says nothing but that one sufficient little word queer; he's queer, says Stubb; he's queer--queer, queer.... What was that now about one leg standing in three places, and all three places standing in one hell--how was that? Oh! I don't wonder he looked so scornful at me!
Chapter 109: Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

...mastering his emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused for an instant and said: "Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, Sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man."

"He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful bravery that!" murmured Ahab, as Starbuck disappeared. "What's that he said--Ahab beware of Ahab--there's something there!"
Chapter 110: Queequeg in his Coffin
Now, at this time it was that my poor pagan companion, and fast bosom-friend, Queequeg, was seized with a fever, which brought him nigh to his endless end.

...he shuddered at the thought of being buried in his hammock, according to the usual sea-custom, tossed like something vile to the death-devouring sharks. No: he desired a canoe like those of Nantucket...
Looking death in the face, Queequeg decided not to die.

Chapter 111: The Pacific
...this mysterious, divine Pacific zones the world's whole bulk about; makes all coasts one bay to it; seems the tide-beating heart of earth.
Ahab is oblivious to the allure of the Pacific.

Chapter 112: The Blacksmith

Alcohol ruined his life.
He had been an artisan of famed excellence, and with plenty to do; owned a house and garden; embraced a youthful, daughter-like, loving wife, and three blithe, ruddy children; every Sunday went to a cheerful-looking church, planted in a grove.

...Upon the opening of that fatal cork, forth flew the fiend, and shrivelled up his home.
What did he have left but to court Death?
Hearkening to these voices, East and West, by early sun-rise, and by fall of eve, the blacksmith's soul responded, Aye, I come! And so Perth went a-whaling.
Chapter 113: The Forge

Ahab: "And I suppose thou can'st smoothe almost any seams and dents; never mind how hard the metal, blacksmith?"

Perth: "Aye, Sir, I think I can; all seams and dents but one."

Ahab: "I, too, want a harpoon made; one that a thousand yoke of fiends could not part, Perth...

Perth: "Horse-shoe stubbs, Sir? Why, Captain Ahab, thou hast here, then, the best and stubbornest stuff we blacksmiths ever work."

Ahab: "I know it, old man; these stubbs will weld together like glue from the melted bones of murderers. Quic k! forge me the harpoon...

Ahab gives his own razors for the barbs. Ahab: "No, no—no water for that; I want it of the true death-temper. Ahoy, there! Tashtego, Queequeg, Daggoo! What say ye, pagans! Will ye give me as much blood as will cover this barb?"
"Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!" deliriously howled Ahab, as the malignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismal blood.

[I baptize you not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the devil]
Ah, there's the kicker. The notes say Melville told Hawthorne this was the motto for the novel.
This done, pole, iron, and rope—like the Three Fates—remained inseparable, and Ahab moodily stalked away with the weapon; the sound of his ivory leg, and the sound of the hickory pole, both hollowly ringing along every plank.
Chapter 114: The Gilder
...these are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it...
Ahab: There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause...resting at last in manhood's pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally. ...Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.

Starbuck: Let faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.

Stubb: Stubb takes oaths that he has always been jolly!

Ahab: the fallen. Starbuck: the faithful. Stubb: the faithless. Or so I suppose.

Chapter 115: The Pequod Meets the Bachelor
As this glad ship of good luck bore down upon the moody Pequod, the barbarian sound of enormous drums came from her forecastle....the mates and harpooneers were dancing with the olive-hued girls who had eloped with them from the Polynesian Isles....three Long Island negroes, with glittering fiddle-bows of whale ivory, were presiding over the hilarious jig.
And thus, while the one ship went cheerily before the breeze, the other stubbornly fought against it; and so the two vessels parted; the crew of the Pequod looking with grave, lingering glances towards the receding Bachelor...
It is as though one is filled with good spirit, and the other with dread. One with salvation, the other with damnation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 100-106

In case you're wondering why no new photos from my other book...I have yet to catch up with the story there. All these mystical and physiological pages don't translate well to graphic novel/pop up form I guess. That is, if I have any non-Moby-Dick-readers left. Jason, are you still reading?

Chapter 100: Leg and Arm; The Pequod, of Nantucket, Meets the Enderby, of London

Ahab shouts his usual question:

"Hast seen the White Whale?"

"See you this?" and withdrawing it from the fold that had hidden it, he held up a white arm of sperm whale bone, terminating in a wooden head like a mallet.
Ahab is so excited he forgets the foreign boat will not have accommodations for his peg-leg. The English captain describes the whale. I don't remember that we've had such a vivid description yet, though we have had some.
"Presently up breaches from the bottom of the sea a bouncing great whale, with a milky-white head and hump, all crows' feet and wrinkles."
Ahab lost a leg and became obsessed. Captain Boomer has no further interest in tempting fate. There's a strange joking or biting sarcasm between him and his doctor. Said doctor really wants to treat the monomaniacal Ahab.
"Bless my soul, and curse the foul fiend's," cried Bunger, stoopingly walking round Ahab, and like a dog, strangely snuffing; "this man's blood--bring the thermometer;--it's at the boiling point!--his pulse makes these planks beat!--Sir!"--taking a lancet from his pocket, and drawing near to Ahab's arm.

"Avast!" roared Ahab, dashing him against the bulwarks--"Man the boat! Which way heading?"

Chapter 101: The Decanter
Be it distinctly recorded here, that the Nantucketers were the first among mankind to harpoon with civilized steel the great Sperm Whale...

Ishmael has more to say about the Enderby. It seems he got shortchanged with the gams while serving on Ahab's ship. All Ahab wanted was news of The Whale. Much later, Ishmael got the chance to party with the Englishmen. (gam definition reminder: exchange of officers, mail, and news when whaling ships met.)
Flip? Did I say we had flip? Yes, and we flipped it at the rate of ten gallons the hour...
Flip = alcohol + beaten eggs
There's a good strong tradition of living well on a whaling ship, thanks to the Dutch.
For, say they, when cruising in an empty ship, if you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least. And this empties the decanter.
Chapter 102: A Bower in the Arsacides
...And as for my exact knowledge of the bones of the leviathan in their gigantic, full grown development, for that rare knowledge I am indebted to my late royal friend Tranquo, king of Tranque, one of the Arsacides.
The ribs were hung with trophies; the vertebrae were carved with Arsacidean annals, in strange hieroglyphics; in the skull, the priests kept up an unextinguished aromatic flame, so that the mystic head again sent forth its vapory spout; while, suspended from a bough, the terrific lower jaw vibrated over all the devotees...
Chapter 103: Measurement of the Whale's Skeleton
...a Sperm Whale of the largest magnitude, between eighty-five and ninety feet in length, and something less than forty feet in its fullest circumference, such a whale will weigh at least ninety tons; so that reckoning thirteen men to a ton, he would considerably outweigh the combined population of a whole village of one thousand one hundred inhabitants.
How vain and foolish, then, thought I, for timid untravelled man to try to comprehend aright this wondrous whale, by merely poring over his dead attenuated skeleton, stretched in this peaceful wood. No. Only in the heart of quickest perils; only when within the eddyings of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded sea, can the fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out.
Us poor landlubbers. We are deprived.

Chapter 104: The Fossil Whale
Having already described him in most of his present habitatory and anatomical peculiarities, it now remains to magnify him in an archaeological, fossiliferous, and antediluvian point of view.
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.
I couldn't find a book, but I found a poem. I bet a great writer could create a mighty book about the tiny flea.
But by far the most wonderful of all cetacean relics was the almost complete vast skeleton of an extinct monster, found in the year 1842, on the plantation of Judge Creagh, in Alabama. The awe-stricken credulous slaves in the vicinity took it for the bones of one of the fallen angels.
antechronical: is that antichronical? And I suppose that would be pre-Adamite, outside of time as the biblical follower knows it?
Their Historians affirm, that a Prophet who prophesy'd of Mahomet, came from this Temple, and some do not stand to assert, that the Prophet Jonas was cast forth by the Whale at the Base of the Temple."

In this Afric Temple [Barbary coast] of the Whale I leave you, reader, and if you be a Nantucketer, and a whaleman, you will silently worship there.
Chapter 105: Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish?--Will he Perish?

Ishmael looks to Pliny and other historians' accounts of whales to see if the whale grows smaller. He doesn't believe the stories, but instead the fossil evidences. As for extinction, he doesn't feel whalers kill enough for that to happen, as the whales have such larger fields to roam than the bison, and the bison were killed at such greater numbers.
Forty men in one ship hunting the Sperm Whale for forty-eight months think they have done extremely well, and thank God, if at last they carry home the oil of forty fish.
Finally! I've been wondering about that.
Moreover: we are to consider, that from the presumed great longevity of whales, their probably attaining the age of a century and more...
I wonder, is that true? Pause while researching...apparently more like 60-70 years.
Wherefore, for all these things, we account the whale immortal in his species, however perishable in his individuality....In Noah's flood, he despised Noah's Ark; and if ever the world is to be again flooded, like the Netherlands, to kill off its rats, then the eternal whale will still survive, and rearing upon the topmost crest of the equatorial flood, spout his frothed defiance to the skies.
Chapter 106: Ahab's Leg

Ahab injured his whale bone leg when he left the Enderby. had not been very long prior to the Pequod's sailing from Nantucket, that he had been found one night lying prone upon the ground, and insensible; by some unknown, and seemingly inexplicable, unimaginable casualty, his ivory limb having been so violently displaced, that it had stake-wise smitten, and all but pierced his groin; nor was it without extreme difficulty that the agonizing wound was entirely cured.
Aha! ... the mysterious reason Ahab stayed out of sight at the beginning of the voyage.

Ahab knows karma:
Nor, at the time, had it failed to enter his monomaniac mind, that all the anguish of that then present suffering was but the direct issue of a former, equally with every felicity, all miserable events do naturally beget their like.
So, with bone and iron, the carpenter and blacksmith forged Ahab a new leg.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What I Did Yesterday

I had an apple. These apples are from the Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Hood River, Oregon. They are a third generation American Japanese family.

The stickers say "Read Stubborn Twig." The apples are given as a part of MCL's Everybody Reads and Oregon Reads. Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family is about 3 generations of a Japanese American family in the Pacific Northwest as well.

I was home from work awhile when Jerry reminded Facebook friends that he and Aqila would be at Marino Cafe, where he would be playing, and she dancing. I haven't really watched belly dancing before. Certainly not so close up. By day, demure Buddhist minister assistant, by night...

sexy belly dancer...

And the way the drumbeats told her what body part to move...oh my. That vibrating jiggle that belly dancers do...whooo boy.

They are at the cafe every 2nd Friday. Then my homie and I went across the street to Sckavone's for a drink and ran into this...

Some people jammin Brazilian style. They too are there every 2nd Friday, and I believe the waitress told us every Thursday.

brazilian jam at sckavone's

Moby Dick: Chapters 93-99

Chapter 93: The Castaway

Pip...was at bottom very bright, with that pleasant, genial, jolly brightness peculiar to his tribe; a tribe, which ever enjoy all holidays and festivities with finer, freer relish than any other race. ...even blackness has its brilliancy
Sigh. Not so so funny, nor anything to smile at. So Pip never went in the boats, until he was needed to sub for an oarsman. He promptly got caught in the rope and went overboard.

"Damn him, cut!" roared Stubb; and so the whale was lost and Pip was saved.

Curses all around, and Pip is warned next time they won't stop for him.
In three minutes, a whole mile of shoreless ocean was between Pip and Stubb. Out from the centre of the sea, poor Pip turned his crisp, curling, black head to the sun, another lonely castaway, though the loftiest and the brightest.

Now, in calm weather, to swim in the open ocean is as easy to the practised swimmer as to ride in a spring- carriage ashore. But the awful lonesomeness is intolerable...

But had Stubb really abandoned the poor little negro to his fate? No; he did not mean to, at least.
Pip is cracked open to God, or experiences enlightenment, sees the miser-merman...
By the merest chance the ship itself at last rescued him; but from that hour the little negro went about the deck an idiot; such, at least, they said he was. The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. ...So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.
Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand

Another job done by Ishmael:
...when the proper time arrived, this same sperm was carefully manipulated... I found it strangely concreted into lumps, here and there rolling about in the liquid part. It was our business to squeeze these lumps back into fluid. A sweet and unctuous duty!
Kum bye ya, my lord, kum bye ya...oh lord, kum bye ya. Oh, sorry, such sweet contact high of childhood I was remembering...or is sperm of the whale hallucinogenic?
I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally.... Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves...into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.
Terms of whalemen about whalestuff: slobgollion; gurry; nippers; squilgee (wait, not squilgee).
Toes are scarce among veteran blubber-room men.
Chapter 95: The Cassock

Queequeg's idol:
Such an idol as that found in the secret groves of Queen Maachah in Judea; and for worshipping which, king Asa, her son, did depose her, and destroyed the idol...
I was so confused reading this chapter in the book, until I got to the online annotated all hinges around what the grandissimus is. Oh those poor high school students who have to read the book but aren't likely allowed to talk about this. The not teh ghey blog talked about this, right? What? No? (I still haven't a chance to read the blog...but it looks like they didn't stick with it.) Scraped, stretched, dried, and cut...
The mincer now stands before you invested in the full canonicals of his calling. Immemorial to all his order, this investiture alone will adequately protect him, while employed in the peculiar functions of his office.

That office consists in mincing the horse-pieces of blubber for the pots...
Chapter 96: The Try-Works

The try-works don't just serve as the giant stove-tops for boiling whale oil...when cool and clean they:
  1. Provide a nap-space for old sailors to curl up like a cat.
  2. While employed in polishing them--one man in each pot, side by side--many confidential communications are carried on, over the iron lips.
  3. It is a place also for profound mathematical meditation. It was in the left hand try-pot of the Pequod, with the soapstone diligently circling round me, that I was first indirectly struck by the remarkable fact, that in geometry all bodies gliding along the cycloid, my soapstone for example, will descend from any point in precisely the same time.
They burn the whale's flesh to heat the pots, and it smells and smokes like burning flesh. Or a Hindoo...funeral pyre, or the left wing of the day of judgment.

The harpooneers add blubber and keep the fires hot beneath. Herman creates quite the vision of devil's helpers.
...they pitched hissing masses of blubber into the scalding pots, or stirred up the fires beneath, till the snaky flames darted, curling, out of the doors to catch them by the feet. The smoke rolled away in sullen heaps. To every pitch of the ship there was a pitch of the boiling oil, which seemed all eagerness to leap into their faces.
This excites Ishmael's mystical imagination as he slips into a dreamlike state while watching the pagans caper.
The jaw-bone tiller smote my side, which leaned against it; in my ears was the low hum of sails, just beginning to shake in the wind; I thought my eyes were open....Nothing seemed before me but a jet gloom, now and then made ghastly by flashes of redness. Uppermost was the impression, that whatever swift, rushing thing I stood on was not so much bound to any haven ahead as rushing from all havens astern. A stark, bewildered feeling, as of death, came over me.
Perhaps he learned his lesson, as he exhorts his audience not to dream at the helm.
But even Solomon, he says, "the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain" (i. e. even while living) "in the congregation of the dead". Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me.

There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.
He's an excitable boy. I think what he concludes is true, but how he arrives at it is completely encased in his karmic conditioning about devils and hell and evil. Somehow I think Queequeg will turn out to be the virtuous one, perhaps the martyr. (No I don't know, and don't you tell me if you know how it ends.) How I wonder would that fit in Ishmael's quaky world view?

Chapter 97: The Lamp

Shortest. Chapter. Ever. least in MD that I can remember.
Merchantmen --> in the dark
Whalemen --> in the light
He burns, too, the purest of oil, in its unmanufactured, and, therefore, unvitiated state; a fluid unknown to solar, lunar, or astral contrivances ashore. It is sweet as early grass butter in April.
Chapter 98: Stowing Down and Clearing Up

Dirty as all get out:
In the sperm fishery, this is perhaps one of the most remarkable incidents in all the business of whaling. One day the planks stream with freshets of blood and oil; on the sacred quarter-deck enormous masses of the whale's head are profanely piled; great rusty casks lie about, as in a brewery yard; the smoke from the try-works has besooted all the bulwarks; the mariners go about suffused with unctuousness; the entire ship seems great Leviathan himself; while on all hands the din is deafening.
Cleaner than June Cleaver's kitchen:
The unmanufactured sperm oil possesses a singularly cleansing virtue. This is the reason why the decks never look so white as just after what they call an affair of oil. Besides, from the ashes of the burned scraps of the whale, a potent ley is readily made....the crew themselves proceed to their own ablutions; shift themselves from top to toe; and finally issue to the immaculate deck, fresh and all aglow, as bridegrooms new-leaped from out the daintiest Holland.
And then the next "There she blows!"

Chapter 99: The Doubloon

...but in the multiplicity of other things requiring narration...
Hey! He said multiplicity. Come to think of it, you don't really see that word used much. That could be part of why I am liking this so much. My mind fills in those related details just as Ishmael does. I look at the implications, the significances, the transformative possibilities. has not been added how that sometimes in these walks, when most plunged in his mood, [Ahab] was wont to pause in turn at each spot, and stand there strangely eyeing the particular object before him. ...But one morning, turning to pass the doubloon, he seemed to be newly attracted by the strange figures and inscriptions stamped on it, as though now for the first time beginning to interpret for himself in some monomaniac way whatever significance might lurk in them.
This sparks apparent significance for others as well.

I think this is Ahab, but could be Starbuck:
Born in throes, 't is fit that man should live in pains and die in pangs! So be it, then! Here's stout stuff for woe to work on. So be it, then.

Starbuck: So in this vale of Death, God girds us round; and over all our gloom, the sun of Righteousness still shines a beacon and a hope. If we bend down our eyes, the dark vale shows her mouldy soil; but if we lift them, the bright sun meets our glance half way, to cheer.

Stubb: personalized zodiac
Flask: 960 cigars that he could buy
Manxman (old hearse driver): the signs say "it must be a month and a day"
Queequeg (according to Stubb): takes it for an old button off some king's trowsers
Fedallah: he bows
Pip: has been studying grammar
"Here's the ship's navel, this doubloon here, and they are all on fire to unscrew it. But, unscrew your navel, and what's the consequence?

Oh, the gold! the precious, precious gold!--the green miser'll hoard ye soon! Hish! hish! God goes 'mong the worlds blackberrying.
Ah, Stubb is participating in navel-gazing. I am reminded of my high school band director, who intermittently scolded certain people for talking during band, and would order them to gaze at their some point he defined that directive as meaning they should shut up. It wasn't until much later in life that I learned he was referring to meditation, the contemplative act of just sitting, and that 'gaze at your navel' was a derogatory reference to contemplative meditation. I don't think Melville is necessarily referring to navel-gazing, but the thought works anyway.

I was going to include the next chapter in my schedule for this week, but I think here at divinations is a good place to stop.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Moby Dick: Chapters 87-92

Photo: quilted artwork found at the Newport, Oregon aquarium

Chapter 87: The Grand Armada

In the last chapter, I meant to comment on Ishmael's liberal use of 'mystic'.

In an extensive herd, so remarkable, occasionally, are these mystic gestures, that I have heard hunters who have declared them akin to Free-Mason signs and symbols...
It occurred to me perhaps he's sprinkling 'mystic' wherever he encounters 'something unknowable.' Or maybe that goes to the root of mysticism...the unknowable. What happens when it becomes 'knowable'? Does it lose its mystic quality? Will he resist the knowability, insist in the unknowability, as so many religious folk do?
...considering the inexhaustible wealth...with which the thousand islands of that oriental sea are enriched, it seems a significant provision of nature, that such treasures, by the very formation of the land, should at least bear the appearance...of being guarded from the all-grasping western world.
Indonesia, Burma, Bali, Malaysia...there are also pirates. Sounds a little like the seas near Somalia today. The Somalian pirates, after all, feel justified in taking goods passing through their seas....and the western world is still all-grasping. Not that I'm defending piracy.
While other hulls are loaded down with alien stuff, to be transferred to foreign wharves; the world-wandering whale-ship carries no cargo but herself and crew...
...including enough water for their 3-4 years at sea, not once touching land. the distance of some two or three miles, and forming a great semicircle, embracing one half of the level horizon, a continuous chain of whale-jets were up-playing and sparkling in the noon-day air.
Ranks and battalions of whales in front, Malay pirates behind. druggs? oh...devices to create draaaggg. Ishmael's boat hooks a whale, who takes them into the middle of the vast herd.
...with the tapering force of his parting momentum, we glided between two whales into the innermost heart of the shoal, as if from some mountain torrent we had slid into a serene valley lake. ...Yes, we were now in that enchanted calm which they say lurks at the heart of every commotion.
for a sweet extended video of a humpback mama and baybee go here. Awwww....
Like household dogs they came snuffling round us, right up to our gunwales, and touching them; till it almost seemed that some spell had suddenly domesticated them. Queequeg patted their foreheads; Starbuck scratched their backs with his lance...
and then he ruins it...
...but fearful of the consequences, for the time refrained from darting it.
We see lovers, we see mothers, we see fighters, we see all the different pieces of a whale's life. Ishmael identifies so much with the whales...
...though surrounded by circle upon circle of consternations and affrights, did these inscrutable creatures at the centre freely and fearlessly indulge in all peaceful concernments... But even so, amid the tornadoed Atlantic of my being, do I myself still for ever centrally disport in mute calm; and while ponderous planets of unwaning woe revolve round me, deep down and deep inland there I still bathe me in eternal mildness of joy.
How then can he kill them? What an amazing self-description. tornadoed Atlantic of my being...

A wounded whale breaks up the peace. Starbuck gets the boat out safely. Yay, Starbuck! For their efforts, one drugged, one waifed.

Chapter 88: Schools and Schoolmasters

Two schools: one primarily female with one dominant male...the schoolmaster or Grand Turk; one primarily young males

When the dom male gets old...
...a love of ease and virtue supplants the love for maidens; our Ottoman enters upon the impotent, repentant, admonitory stage of life, forswears, disbands the harem, and grown to an exemplary, sulky old soul, goes about all alone among the meridians and parallels saying his prayers, and warning each young Leviathan from his amorous errors.
On the other hand...
The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem schools. Like a mob of young collegians, they are full of fight, fun, and wickedness.... They soon relinquish this turbulence though, and when about three fourths grown, break up, and separately go about in quest of settlements, that is, harems.
Chapter 89: Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish

Fast Fish: belongs to the party fast to it.

Loose Fish: fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it.
But what plays the mischief with this masterly code is the admirable brevity of it, which necessitates a vast volume of commentaries to expound it.
After a legal example outlining fast-fish-loose-fish, Ishmael compares it to other aspects of his world.
What to the rapacious landlord is the widow's last mite but a Fast-Fish? What is yonder undetected villain's marble mansion with a door-plate for a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? ...
But what I really think Ishmael/Melville wants to get to is this:
What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?
Chapter 90: Heads or Tails
"De balena vero sufficit, si rex habeat caput, et regina caudam."
Bracton, l 3. c. 3.

What's this? The first chapter ever to start with a quote?

The Man can take the English whalers' whale on behalf of the King. Who knew?
...up steps a very learned and most Christian and charitable gentleman, with a copy of Blackstone under his arm; and laying it upon the whale's head, he says—"Hands off! this fish, my masters, is a Fast-Fish. I seize it as the Lord Warden's".
Chapter 91: The Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud

and the incident in which Stubb snookers French whalers out of the most precious ambergris.

The French ship Bouton de Rose has two horrendously smelly whale carcasses strapped to her sides. Again, I say be careful what you name your ship.

Also, this is the second chapter to begin with a quote:

"In vain it was to rake for Ambergriese in the paunch of this Leviathan, insufferable fetor denying that inquiry." Sir T. Browne, V. E.

Any more to come? Scanning through...I didn't see any. Ya never see such inconsistency in a book published today.

Chapter 92: Ambergris

Otherwise known as 'whale vomit'. Hmmm...I wonder if they spit up those things on the Oregon Coast? Might be a reason to become a beachcomber...

Used in:
  • perfumery
  • pastilles
  • precious candles
  • hair-powders
  • hair-pomade
  • Turkish cooking
  • offerings at Mecca
  • flavor in claret wine to induce a whale to vomit:
By some, ambergris is supposed to be the cause, and by others the effect, of the dyspepsia in the whale. How to cure such a dyspepsia it were hard to say, unless by administering three or four boat loads of Brandreth's pills, and then running out of harm's way, as laborers do in blasting rocks.
First, find those elusive Brandreth's pills.
Now that the incorruption of this most fragrant ambergris should be found in the heart of such decay; is this nothing? Bethink thee of that saying of St. Paul in Corinthians, about corruption and incorruption; how that we are sown in dishonor, but raised in glory.
After all that talk of decaying whales, Ishmael defends whaling as not really as smelly as its reputation.