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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Musing in a Time of Angst

From The Sermon:

"I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?"


Musing: Father Mapple again. I always jump when I read this line in Moby-Dick. How can we humans believe we are anything other than mortal, Mapple seems to say. It is a clear warning to men like Ahab, who believes he is a god over his ship/life.

I always wonder about the chicken and the egg when I read Robert Browning and Melville. In 1855 Robert Browning wrote "Andrea Del Sarto" where he has this line: " Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,/Or what's a heaven for?" There must have been, in the age of advancement, a worry about the growing sense of power men were developing. Perhaps these lines are warnings about how humans can go too far. Browning's faultless painter and Melville's monomaniacal captain try to control the uncontrollable - art and nature.

Do we need something beyond our reach? Is that the white whale? The unanswerable question? Probably not great party questions, but I think them anyway!

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