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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Musing in a Time of Angst

From: Queequeg in His Coffin

"And this tattooing [Queequeg's] had been the work of a departed prophet and seer of his island, who, by those hieroglyphic marks, had written out on his body a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last."


I read about a writer who wrote a short story then asked if people would volunteer to tattoo one word from her story (each person one word per body) so that eventually everyone (approx. 2245 people) would have a part of the story on them and in this way, they would be part of a living text.

To which I thought - cool.

Queequeg is that living text. I think of how amazing it would be to be described as "a wondrous work in one volume." In the end, I suppose, we all die unsolved. And for some of us, the better that may be.

Hey, this is musings, right? Melville does that to me.

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