The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever
"For an instant, the tranced boat's crew stood still; then turned. "The ship? Great God, where is the ship?" Soon they through dim, bewildering mediums saw her sidelong fading phantom, as in the gaseous Fata Morgana; only the uppermost masts out of water; while fixed by infatuation, or fidelity, or fate, to their once lofty perches, the pagan harpooneers still maintained their sinking look-outs on the sea. And now, concentric circles seized the lone boat itself, and all its crew, and each floating oar, and every lancepole, and spinning, animate and inanimate, all round and round in one vortex, carried the smallest chip of the Pequod out of sight."
Musing: Ahab is gone - drowned and buried in the depths of the sea. The Pequod is now gone as well. The description of the fading ship is so dreamlike. A Fata Morgana is, according the internets, "A superior mirage - an optical phenomenon caused by light passing through a thermal inversion where an atmospheric duct has formed." And notice how the masts, like the harpooners, are 'fixed' by fidelity or fate. But the Pequod can't simply sink -it must be erased from the narrative completely. In a vortex, it is lost. Part mystery, part mastery of language - everything is gone. Except . . .