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  • From The Try-Works

The Daily Dick: Musings from the Greatest Novel Ever

"Wrapped, for that interval, in darkness myself, I but the better saw the redness, the madness, the ghastliness of others. The continual sight of the fiend shapes before me, capering half in smoke and half in fire, these at last begat kindred visions in my soul, so soon as I began to yield to that unaccountable drowsiness which ever would come over me at a midnight helm."


Musing: This passage is, to me, from the darkest, creepiest chapter in Moby-Dick. The try-works is the place where the whale blubber is boiled down. It is a hot, smelly business and I can imagine the flames leaping against the roiling of the ship. Here, Ishmael has a 'vision.' I can imagine (too well?) putting yourself in a place of darkness and seeing the world and humanity through the smoke and fire of the night. The idea that we can see 'kindred visions' of ourselves in the darkest of humanity always bothers me. But I can't discount the passage.

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