The Daily Dick: Musings on the Relevance of Moby-Dick Today
"Better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety!"
This line, indeed this entire chapter, never fails to take me in. Melville has given us a tall character, Bulkington, and then takes him away. Bulkington arrives in New Bedford as a possible hero, then dies a few minutes into the voyage. Why? Sweet metaphors, that's why! The howling infinite is the active - the sea, the journey, the quest for truth or a whale or meaning. The Lee Shore is avoided by sailors. It is the rocky shore. It can be safe, but it is an end. So is Bulkington a reminder that it is better to perish searching for truth that to die running to safety or sitting in our recliners? I'm not sure Melville thought of recliners, but he was all about the search for truth.