“Voyage of the Pequod” map (1956) (via laphamsquarterly)
Two mentions of Herman Melville in David Markson’s Vanishing Point
David Markson’s copy of Edwin Haviland Miller’s Melville, on which he placed a check in the margin next to information about Melville’s death. (via readingmarksonreading)
“The size of a whale”
Chapter 23, The Lee Shore
Some chapters back, one Bulkington was spoken of, a tall, newlanded mariner, encountered in New Bedford at the inn.
When on that shivering winter’s night, the Pequod thrust her vindictive bows into the cold malicious waves, who should I see standing at her helm but Bulkington! I looked with sympathetic awe and fearfulness upon the man, who in mid-winter just landed from a four years’ dangerous voyage, could so unrestingly push off again for still another tempestuous term. The land seemed scorching to his feet. Wonderfullest things are ever the unmentionable; deep memories yield no epitaphs; this six-inch chapter is the stoneless grave of Bulkington. Let me only say that it fared with him as with the storm-tossed ship, that miserably drives along the leeward land. The port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that’s kind to our mortalities. But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship’s direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder through and through. With all her might she crowds all sail off shore; in so doing, fights ‘gainst the very winds that fain would blow her homeward; seeks all the lashed sea’s landlessness again; for refuge’s sake forlornly rushing into peril; her only friend her bitterest foe!
Know ye now, Bulkington? Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?
But as in landlessness alone resides highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God—so, better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land! Terrors of the terrible! is all this agony so vain? Take heart, take heart, O Bulkington! Bear thee grimly, demigod! Up from the spray of thy ocean-perishing—straight up, leaps thy apotheosis!
[Read by Paul Bonaventura for the Moby-Dick Big Read.]
Melville on my mind. And on my walls.
“The air around suddenly vibrated and tingled, as it were, like the air over intensely heated plates of iron. Beneath this atmospheric waving and curling, and partially beneath a thin layer of water, also, the whales were swimming.”
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (via kelsfjord)
We’re never told which of Ahab’s legs is missing.
A page from a notebook:
“Solidity is but a crust,” a line from Melville
(We don’t read Moby-Dick to get to know Ishmael—)
The theme of the isolated individual “haunted the most sensitive minds of Melville’s century… and it still hovers above the 20th century, a restless and unlaid ghost.”
“True philosophy has never consisted in probing all problems, but often on the contrary eluding them. We are skirting an abyss: beware of vertigo.” — Edmund Scherer
“It is not human beings I like, but what devours them.” — Andre Gide
My Norths are laid away in books.
How writing is like those ships lured by the promise of—or dependent upon the existence of—false lands. How many suppositions lead men deeper into the icy wastes? (The magical invocation of names.) Nordenskjold’s forays into the mysterious heart of Greenland were based on the presumption of green pastures in the country located past the ice.
“The life of tragic heroes is not good; it is misguided, unnecessary, and absurd.” — George Santayana
(image via: yochanah)
Book! you lie there; the fact is, you books must know your places. You’ll do to give us the bare words and facts, but we come in to supply the thoughts. That’s my small experience, so far as the Massachusetts calendar, and Bowditch’s navigator, and Daboll’s arithmetic go. Signs and wonders, eh? Pity if there is nothing wonderful in signs, and significant in wonders!Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (via littletoboggans)
For whatever is truly wondrous and fearful in man, never yet was put into words or books.Herman Melville, born today in 1819
Would now the wind but had a body; but all the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as objects, not as agents. There’s a most special, a most cunning, oh, a most malicious difference!Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (via littletoboggans)