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‘The Constituents of a Chaos’
Under a Troubled Master-Eye #6: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Chapter 32


Cetology

“Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immensities.”

Ishmael takes it upon himself to educate the reader as to the object and history of his trade and serves Melville as a cheery prop for the building of a 16-page treatise on whales. Interestingly, the largest whale was so swiftly out of reach of the sailing ships, that the great blue leviathan was known only for its spouting from afar. In this summary I will limit the whale description to some entries concerning the key to Ahab’s quest, the mighty Sperm whale:

“As yet, the Sperm whale, scientific or poetic, lives not complete in any literature. Far above all other hunted whales, his is an unwritten life…

“I promise nothing complete; because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty.”

That passage above spits in the vapid face of Modernity, the entire structure of which is built upon the premise having gained counterfeit currency in the age of enlightenment which preceded the age of oil-lit streetlights.

Lashing out at the idea that form defines a thing over function, Melville disputes mammalian whale classification, declaring that what swims is fish and that what makes a whale a whale is a horizontal tailfin.

“This whale, among the English of old vaguely known as the Trumpa whale, and the Physeter whale, and the Anvil-headed whale, is the present Cachslot of the French, and the Pottsfisch of the Germans, and the Macrocephalus of the Long Words. He is no doubt the largest inhabitant of the globe; the most formidable of all the whales to encounter; the most majestic in aspect; and lastly, by far the most valuable in commerce; he being the only creature from which that valuable substance, spermaceti, is obtained.”

This substance served as a light, medicine, ointment and lubricant.

Melville finishes, having shed the fiction of Ishmael for an egotistic moment, claiming that any great thing must not be completed by the designer, lest it be diminished, “leaving the cope-stone to posterity.”

Organa: The Malfunction of Tray Sorenson

https://www.amazon.com/Organa-Malfunction-Sorenson-James-LaFond/dp/1517439965/ref=sr_1_121?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511041923&sr=1-121&refinements=p_27%3AJames+LaFond

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JJ PrzybylskiSeptember 10, 2019 9:55 PM UTC

"Melville finishes...claiming that any great thing must not be completed by the designer, lest it be diminished, 'leaving the cope-stone to posterity.'"

This observation and quote dovetails, or fishtails, into your take on Civilization as the cope-stone of entropy. Spengler, a whale of a writer without academic credentials, would agree that completion is senile. Maybe that's why he never graduated with a history degree. Like a self-taught banjo playing prodigy on a porch in Appalachia, Spengler was beautifully and powerfully unfinished. (Excuse me for equating Prussians and hillbillies for the frigging glee of it.)
responds:September 10, 2019 11:19 PM UTC

I love your take on Melville and Spengler. I've read only 1 of Spengler's books and need to read some more.

Thanks.