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Things get heavy in this section. We’re nearing the home stretch, and you kind of get the sense it’s not going to be a happy ending. I feel the weight of allusions and imagery and stuff I probably don’t fully “get” in this section, but I loved it. I can’t pick out a particular quote, but I felt like we’re decending into hell.
There are some lighter moments in this section too, particularly, when Ahab finds a BFF who lost an arm, but I’m focusing on the dark stuff – as usual!
Ship on Fire: “The Try-Works” was my favourite chapter, at least since “Cetology”. It describes the oven-like structure where blubber is boiled in huge pots. The Pequod becomes a ship on fire, which is am image and an idea full of history and myth. Some great lines about the hellish process of getting that oil:
Like a plethoric burning martyr, or a self-consuming misanthrope, once ignited, the whale supplies his own fuel and burns by this own body… it smells like the left wing of judgement; it is an argument for the pit.
The burning ship drove on, as if remorselessly commissioned to some vengeful deed.
Fly Like An (S)Eagle: This quote made me gasp. It’s on the list of “important quotations” over at SparkNotes so I’m not the only one who felt something.
There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
Every Sperm is Sacred: I don’t know what I can say about the chapter “A Squeeze of the Hand.” You kind of have to experience it for yourself. A sample:
I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me…let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.
Tune in Next Week: Endangered species deniers, Ahab keeps it real, and a storm’s a brewin’.
- A six year old girl accompanied her family on a whaling ship in 1868. She kept a journal. This website is fascinating!
- This ultra-conservative website compares Ahab to Hitler and Obama and is not crazy at all, nope. Bonus: rants about “pro-abortion” like that’s a thing, and like it had anything to do with the book. Oy.
You must click through to the Storify. “Classic Ahab!”
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