ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)
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In Chapter 79: The Prairie, Ishmael buys a little house and adopts a pair of little girls for wacky adventures on the American frontier. Just kidding, it's a metaphor for whale physiology. Somehow.

pg. 367: Physiognomically regarded, the Sperm Whale is an anomalous creature. He has no proper nose.

For the purposes of this chapter, we will be ignoring the existence of the blowhole.

At first, Ishmael seems to regard the lack of whale noses as a great tragedy, then abruptly shifts his position and says that whales are too good for noses and having noses would totally ruin whales.

We are also treated to a manifesto on the importance of foreheads, which segues into a discussion of intelligence.

pg. 368: Genius in the Sperm Whale? Has the Sperm Whale ever written a book, spoken a speech? No, his great genius is declared in his doing nothing particular to prove it.

Sperm Whales have faith-based genius.

Chapter 80: The Nut describes Ishmael. Kidding again, it's more whale face analysis.

pg. 369: If the Sperm Whale be physiognomically a Sphinx, to the phrenologist his brain seems that geometrical circle which it is impossible to square.


pg. 369: But in life–as we have elsewhere seen–this inclined plane is angularly filled up, and almost squared by the enormous superincumbent mass of the junk and sperm.

Emphasis mine, because I am the most mature.

pg. 369: The brain is at least twenty feet from his apparent forehead in life; it is hidden away behind its vast outworks, like the innermost citadel within the amplified fortifications of Quebec.

Still bitter about the War of 1812, eh Ishmael?

pg. 370: It is plain, then, that phrenologically the head of this Leviathan, in the creature's living intact state, is an entire delusion.

Much like phrenology itself.

pg. 370: If you attentively regard almost any quadruped's spine, you will be struck with the resemblance of its vertebrae to a strung necklace of dwarfed skulls, all bearing rudimental resemblance to the skull proper. It is a German conceit, that the vertebrae are absolutely undeveloped skulls.

Of course it is.

pg. 371: I would rather feel your spine than your skull, whoever you are.


pg. 371: Under all these circumstances, would it be unreasonable to survey and map out the whale's spine phrenologically?

Yes. Yes it would.

In Chapter 81: The Pequod Meets the Virgin, we finally get back to the goddamn story.

The Pequod catches sight of the Jungfrau, and the commentary of the mates is too precious to sum up.

pg. 372: "What has he in his hand there?" cried Starbuck, pointing to something wavingly held by the German. "Impossible!–a lamp-feeder!"

"Not that," said Stubb, "no, no, it's a coffee-pot, Mr. Starbuck; he's coming off to make us our coffee, is the Yarman; don't you see that big tin can there alongside of him?–that's his boiling water. Oh! he's all right, is the Yarman."

"Go along with you," cried Flask, "its a lamp-feeder and an oil can. He's out of oil, and has come a-begging."

Stubb: still my favorite.

Flask and Starbuck are right, of course. Captain Derick De Deer of the Jungfrau is out of oil. Somewhat weird for a whaling ship, whose purpose is to gather oil, but there you go. The Pequod gives him some oil for his lamp, and everyone moves on with their lives.

At least until some whales are spotted on the horizon, and the two ships must now race for the catch. Competitive whaling!

One of the whales is super old and diseased and slow, so naturally both ships target him. Stubb employs his usual strategy for encouraging his crew.

pg. 375: "Who's that been dropping an anchor overboard–we don't budge an inch–we're becalmed. Halloo, here's grass growing in the boat's bottom–and by the Lord, the mast there's budding. This won't do, boys."

Flask, meanwhile, has this to say.

pg. 375: "Don't ye love sperm?"

The German whalers reach the whale first, but the Pequod's harpooneers throw their harpoons right over the Germans' heads, and the Germans are tossed out of their boat by all the commotion.

pg. 377: "Don't be afraid, my butter-boxes," cried Stubb, casting a passing glance upon them as he shot by; "ye'll be picked up presently–all right–I saw some sharks astern–St. Bernard's dogs, you know–relieve distressed travellers.

Oh, Stubb.

Three pages and a few Saw movies worth of gore later, the whale is dead and towed back to the Pequod.

pg. 381: It so chanced that almost upon first cutting into him with the spade, the entire length of a corroded harpoon was found imbedded in his flesh, on the lower part of the bunch before described.


Unfortunately, once the whale corpse is tied to the ship, it almost immediately starts to sink, nearly taking the Pequod down with it. Guess who saves the day?

pg. 382: "Knife? Aye, aye," cried Queequeg, and seizing the carpenter's heavy hatchet, he leaned out of a porthole, and steel to iron, began slashing at the largest fluke-chains. But a few strokes, full of sparks, were given, when the exceeding strain effected the rest. With a terrific snap, every fastening went adrift; the ship righted, the carcase sank.

Let us review.

...shaves his face and eats his breakfast with a harpoon.
...can toss a man up in the air and make him land on his feet.
...has leapt into the ocean to successfully rescue two (2) people from drowning, one by diving into the water with a sword and carving open a whale head to pull out the drowning victim within.
...nudges sharks away with his feet; deadly ocean predators are not even worth the energy of kicking.
...can sever an iron chain with a hatchet in "just a few strokes."

And on top of all this, he cuddles.

In conclusion, WHERE IS MY QUEEQUEG.


As a reward for reading this far, I would like to present you with a rehashing of an earlier concept.

Someday I am going to have to edit every picture of Queequeg I've ever drawn to make the tattoos consistent. But it is not this day.

ETA oh fuck image description sorry sorry

[Image description: On the left is Queequeg, a big, brawny Maori man covered in tattoos with his hair in a topknot. He is gazing lovingly into the eyes of Ishmael, a white guy with tousled black hair and 1840's-style sideburns. Both are nude and lying on top of an invisible bed, as seen from above, with their legs and fingers intertwined. It is very cute in a sickening, diabetes sort of way.]


For more adventures in Moby Dick, check out the Moby Dick, or The Rant tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.
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ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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