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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 88: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Chapter 85 The Fountain

“For, d’ye see, rainbows do not visit the clear air; they only irradiate vapor. And so, through all the thick mists of the dim doubts in my mind, divine intuitions now and then shoot, enkindling my fog with a heavenly ray. And for this I thank God; for all have doubts; many deny; but doubts or denials, few along with them, have intuitions. Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye.”




Oh how I love this chapter. We have Ishmael at his finest, pondering weighty matters such as what the mist from a whale’s spout is made of. Ish isn’t sure if it is water or vapor, but in the end, he decides to allow the matter to rest.


The lines above are so deep that they have stayed with me for years. Rainbows, Ish tells us, don’t visit clear air, they only sine through vapor – non-clear air. So like most of us who are not clear thinkers and have our doubts, we can rest assured that sometimes, divine thoughts can breach our foggy brains and shoot us with a ‘heavenly ray’ of clarity.


Ish goes on to say that even thought we all have doubts (most of us, anyway) it’s okay. Because if we doubt some of what's on earth and believe in some heavenly things, it evens out and makes us balanced individuals.

Ishmael is getting wiser and wiser as the Pequod sails along.

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