"Death is only a launching into the region of the strange Untried; it is but the first salutation to the possibilities of the immense Remote, the Wild, the Watery, the Unshored; therefore, to the death-longing eyes of such men, who still have left in them some interior compunctions against suicide, does the all-contributed and all-receptive ocean alluringly spread forth his whole plain of unimaginable, taking terrors, and wonderful, new-life adventures; and from the hearts of
"Death plucked down some virtuous elder brother, on whose whistling daily toil solely hung the responsibilities of some other family, and left the worse than useless old man standing, till the hideous rot of life should make him easier to harvest." Musing: Wow - what writing! This is the story of the ship's blacksmith. Because of his drinking, the blacksmith loses his family, his home, his business - everything. His life was crap - and - Melville tells us - all of his own doi
"Here, too, life dies sunwards full of faith, but see! no sooner dead, than death whirls round the corpse, and it heads some other way." Musing: Ahab is watching a whale die. Sperm Whales turn their heads toward the sun as they die. But even as the whale seeks light, Ahab is watching the circling sharks ready to take the whale below - away from the sun. What this says about us is a bit hopeful and a bit disturbing. Typical Melville.
"This tattooing 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 a word, it was Queequeg’s conceit, that if a man made up his mind to live, mere sickness could not kill him: nothing but a whale, or a gale, or some violent, ungovernable, unintelligent destroyer of that sort could." Musing: Melville puts this thought on Queequeq. It seems to suggest that while mankind has power over his mind, nature still has the upper hand. I think. Sometimes Moby-Dick is hard!
"Of all mortals, some dying men are the most tyrannical; and certainly, since they will shortly trouble us so little for evermore, the poor fellows ought to be indulged." Musing: If you haven't read Moby-Dick, you won't know how funny Melville can be. This quote is taken from the chapter where Queequeq, believing he is dying, asks the carpenter to build him a coffin. Ishmael, tongue in cheek, tells us how he feels about Queequeg's desire for the coffin. The coffin (spoiler al
"For whatever is truly wondrous and fearful in man, never yet was put into words or books. And the drawing near of Death, which alike levels all, alike impresses all with a last revelation, only an author from the dead could adequately tell."
“He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful bravery that!” Musing: Starbuck has just told Ahab to "beware of Ahab." Then Starbuck leaves. Ahab seems to speak to the futility of strong words without subsequent action. Who hasn't been here - on either side?
"I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.” Musing: This warning rings out throughout Moby-Dick - it's not other people who generally cause us harm - we harm ourselves. Kind of gives me a shiver.
“There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod." Ahab directs this line at Starbuck. He also directs his gun at Starbuck. Starbuck confronts Ahab and ends up retreating. Later, Ahab reflects on the situation by saying that Starbuck is "but too good a fellow." Blind obedience to God, the law, family, society is questioned throughout the book. And yet, Starbuck still got a coffee house to honor him.