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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 4: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Updated: Jan 31

Chapter 1: Day 4: Loomings

“And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.” 


Musings:   I’ve always been fascinated by Ishmael's use of the Narcissus myth here. Narcissus was so in love with his own image, that he fell into it and drowned. What a lesson for us all! What a lesson for Ahab. Don’t fall too deeply into anything, right?


But the line I gravitate to this time around is the ‘ungraspable phantom of life.’ What can’t we grasp? Meaning? Happiness? A true sense of self? Ishmael, leading me still, has just told me this idea of the ‘ungraspable phantom of life,’ is the key to everything. What we see when we look into water is a reflection, for sure, but of what?

I’m walking with you, Ishmael.

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