Let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness | Moby-Dick reread, riff 25

I. In this riff, Chapters 94-98 of Moby-Dick. In these chapters, Ishmael (again) describes the business of rendering oil and etcetera from a whale’s corpse. The chapters show again Ishmael’s push-pull narration style, vacillating between the physical/commercial and the metaphysical/philosophical. II. Ch. 94, “A Squeeze of the Hand.” A perfect chapter in a perfectly imperfect… Continue reading Let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness | Moby-Dick reread, riff 25

The intense concentration of self in the middle of such a heartless immensity, my God! who can tell it?  | Moby-Dick reread, riff 24

I. In this riff, Chapters 91, 92, and 93 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 91, “The Pequod Meets The Rose-bud.” Stubb stars in this humorous chapter in which The Pequod encounters a French vessel which is towing a pair of “what the fishermen call a blasted whale, that is, a whale that has died unmolested on… Continue reading The intense concentration of self in the middle of such a heartless immensity, my God! who can tell it?  | Moby-Dick reread, riff 24

And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too? | Moby-Dick reread, riff 23

  I. In this riff: Chapters 88-90 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 88, “Schools and Schoolmasters.” In this chapter, Ishmael distinguishes between the two types of “schools” of whales—the harem schools, which are comprised of all adult females and one male (Ish calls the harem-lord the “Grand Turk”), and the all-male schools. Ish points out that… Continue reading And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too? | Moby-Dick reread, riff 23

There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men | Moby-Dick reread, riff 22

I. In this riff: Chapter 87 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 87, “The Grand Armada.” In this chapter, The Pequod passes by “the long islands of Sumatra, Java, Bally, and Timor; which, with many others, form a vast mole, or rampart, lengthwise connecting Asia with Australia,” but never rows boats to a shore: “But how now? in this… Continue reading There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men | Moby-Dick reread, riff 22

Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly | Moby-Dick reread, riff 21

I. In this riff: Chapters 84-86 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 84, “Pitchpoling.” Another chapter that starts out horny and ends in death. Our Man Ish lets us know that many whalers love to “grease the bottom” of their boats to make them run faster against the water, for “oil is a sliding thing.” Queequeg greases… Continue reading Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly | Moby-Dick reread, riff 21

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method | Moby-Dick reread, riff 20

I. In this riff: Chapters 81-83 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 81, “The Pequod meets The Virgin.” In this long chapter, the crew of a German whaler called the Jungfrau (virgin), hail The Pequod. The Jungfrau’s captain Derick De Deer begs some whale oil from the Nantucket ship, and Ishmael notes the irony, although he also… Continue reading There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method | Moby-Dick reread, riff 20

A very precious perishing | Moby-Dick reread, riff 19

I. In this riff: Chapters 76-80 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 76, “The Battering-Ram.” Yet another hyphenated chapter title; yet another horny chapter title. In this chapter, the titular battering ram is the sperm whale’s head—or, more accurately, the middle space of its huge head, that “dead, blind wall, without a single organ or tender prominence of any sort… Continue reading A very precious perishing | Moby-Dick reread, riff 19

Why then do you try to “enlarge” your mind? Subtilize it. | Moby-Dick reread, riff 18

I. In this riff: Chapters 74 and 75 of Moby-Dick. (And I go back and pick up a little of Ch. 73.) II. In my last riff, I glibly skipped over Ch. 73, “Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk over Him,” simply adding that, “In this chapter, Stubb and… Continue reading Why then do you try to “enlarge” your mind? Subtilize it. | Moby-Dick reread, riff 18

Things I have been reading that are not Moby-Dick

I have been rereading Moby-Dick. I have also been reading things that are not Moby-Dick.  I have been reading emails. I have been reading and very much enjoying Anakana Schofield’s novel Bina. I should have finished it by now—there’s just one remaining section—but I’ve been reading it exclusively in the bathtub. And I only take baths on Sunday. But… Continue reading Things I have been reading that are not Moby-Dick

The mystic-marked whale remains undecipherable | Moby-Dick reread, riff 17

I. In this riff: Chapters 61-73 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 61, “Stubb Kills a Whale.” In this chapter, Stubb kills a whale. III. Ch. 62, “The Dart.” In this chapter, Ishmael argues that harpooneers should not have to row so that their throwing arms are not fatigued when the time comes to lance a whale.… Continue reading The mystic-marked whale remains undecipherable | Moby-Dick reread, riff 17

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks | Moby-Dick reread, riff 16

I. In this riff: Chapters 58, 59, and 60 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 58, “Brit.” With all of Ishmael’s metaphysical flights into philosophy, as well as the intrigue of Ahab’s revenge quest, it can be easy to lose track of just where in the watery world the Pequod is. Ishmael gives us our bearings again in… Continue reading All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks | Moby-Dick reread, riff 16

The great Leviathan is that one creature in the world which must remain unpainted to the last | Moby-Dick reread, riff 15

I. In this riff: Ch. 55, 56, and 57 of Moby-Dick. Each of these chapters concerns graphic—artistic and scientific—depictions of whales. Ishmael dwells mostly upon the failure of artists to truthfully represent the whale, but also concedes that the task is near impossible. Nevertheless, Ish attests that he “shall ere long paint to you as… Continue reading The great Leviathan is that one creature in the world which must remain unpainted to the last | Moby-Dick reread, riff 15

A certain wondrous, inverted visitation of one of those so called judgments of God which at times are said to overtake some men | Moby-Dick reread, riff 14

I. In this riff: Ch. 54 of Moby-Dick, “The Town Ho’s Story.” II. “The Town Ho’s Story” comes not-exactly halfway through Moby-Dick. At almost 8,000 words, it’s the longest chapter in the novel. For a sense of comparison, Melville’s novella Bartleby is about 14,000 words long. Indeed, “The Town Ho’s Story” reads like a long short story at… Continue reading A certain wondrous, inverted visitation of one of those so called judgments of God which at times are said to overtake some men | Moby-Dick reread, riff 14

Certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life | Moby-Dick reread, riff 13

I. In this riff, Ch. 49-53 of Moby-Dick. II. Ch. 49, “The Hyena,” begins with this wonderful paragraph, which I will share in full: There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life whIIen a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he… Continue reading Certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life | Moby-Dick reread, riff 13

And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt? | Moby-Dick reread, riff 12

I. In this riff: Ch. 37-48. II. Oof. Twelve chapters. Not sure how up to covering them I am, but let’s go— III. Ch. 37, “Sunset.” Ahab has just revealed that The Pequod’s true mission is vengeance on Moby Dick. “Sunset” is a short chapter and continues the Shakespearian mode initiated in Ch. 36, “The Quarter-Deck.” (It… Continue reading And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt? | Moby-Dick reread, riff 12

Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me | Moby-Dick reread, riff 11

I. In this riff: Just one goddamn chapter, Ch. 36, “The Quarter-Deck.” II. There’s too much in “The Quarter-Deck” — too many savory lines, too much foreshadowing, too much language language language — and by too much I mean Too much for me to parse here. III. (I never intended for these riffs to provide insight into Moby-Dick, but… Continue reading Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me | Moby-Dick reread, riff 11

Your identity comes back in horror | Moby-Dick reread, riff 10

I. In this riff: Chapters 33-35 of Moby-Dick. II. (Re: Above—I just finished Ch. 36 of Moby-Dick, “The Quarter-Deck,” which is like, too good. Too loaded. Ahab erupts. Up until now I’d just been riffing on what I’d read, trying to keep it simple, but “The Quarter-Deck” needs its own riff.) III. Ch. 33, “The Specksnyder.” Specksnyder is a strange… Continue reading Your identity comes back in horror | Moby-Dick reread, riff 10