Is there a universal law?

Wednesday October 31, 2007 @ 03:37 AM (UTC)

That when one wishes to quote a famous book, well out of copyright, in a paper, but does not wish to face the ignominy of a web reference in ones “Works Cited”, that book simply will not surface? There exist within the confines of this house no fewer than three copies, but I cannot find one.

Here, Moby Moby Moby….


I don’t know which is worse—that you own three copies of that flotsam, or that you cannot locate any of them. I might think you’re related to a woman who had six bottles of the Cheese Fantastico salad dressing in her refrigerator.

Mom and Dad must carry a recessive gene.

Dad: Moby-Dick is awesome! Especially the parts about whale biology.

Mom: Moby-Dick is awesome! Just skip the parts about whale biology.

Kid #1: Moby-Dick is flotsam!

Kid #2: Moby-Dick is awesome!

This cries out for a Punnett square.

And for the record, one copy is Ryan’s.

Seriously. Your mind and heart are unstirred by this?

“Why, thou monkey,” said a harpooneer to one of these lads, “we’ve been cruising now hard upon three years, and thou hast not raised a whale yet. Whales are scarce as hen’s teeth whenever thou art up here.” Perhaps they were; or perhaps there might have been shoals of them in the far horizon; but lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is this absent-minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half-seen, gliding, beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly-discovered, uprising fin of some undiscernible form, seems to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through it. In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came; becomes diffused through time and space; like Crammer’s sprinkled Pantheistic ashes, forming at last a part of every shore the round globe over.

There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. But while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or hand an inch; slip your hold at all; and your identity comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you hover. And perhaps, at mid-day, in the fairest weather, with one half-throttled shriek you drop through that transparent air into the summer sea, no more to rise for ever. Heed it well, ye Pantheists!

Don’t make me bust out one of my other favorite quotes to express the depths of my disappointment.

Actually, Flotsam by David Wiesner is totally one of my favourite books.

even I only own two copies of the book.

The opening of which is so brilliant as to be awesome.

From the first paragraph:

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. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

Haven’t we all been there? Haven’t we all just wanted to get closer to nature, and take a break from the humdrum. Haven’t we all wanted to just be an ass to all of the dull drones we meet on the street. It at once puts us into the mind of the narrator and prepares us for the horrors to come, that we can only watch as they unfold.

Or perhaps in Chapter 132 when Starbuck and Ahab have their last chance to escape fate itself Ahab describes his own helplessness. How often have all of us felt this way, as we go about doing something that we would rather not, but feel we must.

...What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I. By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike.

Of course if you have made it this far, you will also have probably realized that the great whale will not be found, until the search has made the seeker mad with the hunt.

I love Melville…

I particularly love the knocking hats off.

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