A post where all the hyperlinks involve nudity. Chapter 16. The Ship.
by Buxton Brown
Hello there dedicated readers. I thank you for not losing faith, for not wandering off to some other meaningless web-log, for not abandoning me for the more shallow pleasures of the internet, as the good lord knows there are many. I continue to read and report back to you good folk with the latest on our dear Ishmael, for I know his well being is among your chief concerns.
I just finished watching Brokeback Mountain. That movie depresses the absolute shit out of me, which is a shame because there’s a solid argument that it may be one of the greatest love stories told in cinema in the last 20 years, but I just can’t bring myself to knowingly dedicate THREE AND A HALF HOURS OF MY FREE TIME TO DYING ON THE INSIDE!
I’ve decided to take the low road and promise sex, or at least the suggestion thereof, because sex sells and last I checked mobymobydick.com does not. Sell that it is. Unless you consider presumptuous wisdom and imagined social capital to be viable forms of commercial leverage. In which case, I’m rich bitch.
Moving on. Queequeg has it in his head that Ishmael needs to select the ship that will carry them off into the bosom of adventure. Rather, Queequegs champion wooden lord, god, diety- Yojo is his name I think- has decided it would be fortuitous to insist that Ishmael select the vessel. Would you care to know how I would select a whaling vessel? Of course you would. I say, the more murderous looking the crew, the better. The more haggard looking the ship, the more battered looking it’s crew, the better. My thought is, these bastards have survived, and that nice looking ship with its handsome, well-rested, enthusiastic looking crew over there is probably going to get me killed because they are light in the loafers and will probably all die from sucking at whaling and get me chewed up by some ghastly beast. No thanks. I’ll go with the cretinous animals, because neither animal nor cretin gives a shit what you think when it comes to surviving, and that’s winning. Ishmael selects some grave wooden beast called the “Pequod.”
Of the Pequod…
… the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians, now extinct as the ancient Medes.
… her old hulls complexion was darkened like a French grenadier’s, who alike has fought in Egypt and Syria. Her venerable bows looked bearded.
I like this. You mean the boat looks like some well-traveled, leathered and bearded old French bomb tosser? Yes. Yes. Yes.
… her masts stood stiffly up like the spines of of the three kings of Cologne.
He did this without wikipedia. Shit. If I looked up every history, every myth mentioned in this book, if I gaze into the rabbit hole, the abyss (the internet) of the endless weave of humanity and it’s stories, I would never finish this book and certainly not this little project of mine. It is a wonder that Hermano Melville ever completed such a project.
She was apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian emporer, his neck heavy with pendants of polished ivory. She was a thing of trophies. A cannibal of craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones of her enemies. All round, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm whale, inserted there for pins, to fasted her old hempen thews and tendons to.
That’s just the boat. We also meet Captains Peleg and Bildad. Peleg is blustery, dramatic, and little crass, but ultimately a generous and pleasant human. Bildad inspires a passage that, at this point, I would put up for honorable mention as a unique gem in a sea of gems. Of Bildad and his queer synthesis of whaling and Quaker background, Ishmael says,
wait for it… wait for it…
And when these things unite in a man of greatly superior natural force, with a globular brain and a ponderous heart; who has also by the stillness and seclusion of many long night-watches in the remotest waters, and beneath the constellations never seen here in the north, been led to think untraditionally and independently; receiving all nature’s sweet or savage impressions fresh from her own virgin, voluntary and confiding breast, and thereby chiefly, but with some help from accidental advantages, to learn a bold and nervous lofty language- that man makes one in a whole nation’s census- a mighty pageant creature, formed for noble tragedies. Nor will it at all detract from him, dramatically regarded, if either by birth or other circumstances, he have what seems a half wilful over-ruling morbidness at the botom of his nature. For all men tragically great are made so through a certain morbidness.
Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but a disease.