i read moby dick this summer, after years of putting it off- because i wanted to read it with other people
it felt like a book that needed to be shared.
anyways, no one would ever really hop on the band wagon with me, so i decided to just go it alone.
it is an overwhelmingly beautiful and astute book.
but of course, now that i’m freshly finished with mr. melville…
i am being haunted by moby dick being read by about 40% of the people i know.
that book is everywhere…it actually feels almost mythic just how often i’m encountering it
on bedside tables coast to coast.
anyways. i am enjoying getting to hop back into that world now and then…
whether it be semi drunkenly trying to read it aloud in San Francisco (a real classic (and pretty embarrassing) move of mine)
(and the alliteration in it is SO satisfying to have in your mouth)
or having the most beautiful passage on weaving be gently read aloud to me in Brooklyn.
i just want to share this little treasure, i’d highly recommend finding a reason to read it out loud…
It was a cloudy, sultry afternoon; the seamen were lazily lounging about the decks, or vacantly gazing over into the lead-colored waters. Queequeg and I were mildly employed weaving what is called a sword-mat, for an additional lashing to our boat. So still and subdued and yet somehow preluding was all the scene, and such an incantation of revelry lurked in the air, that each silent sailor seemed resolved into his own invisible self.
I was the attendant or page of Queequeg, while busy at the mat. As I kept passing and repassing the filling or woof of marline between the long yarns of the warp, using my own hand for the shuttle, and as Queequeg, standing sideways, ever and anon slid his heavy oaken sword between the threads, and idly looking off upon the water, carelessly and unthinkingly drove home every yarn; I say so strange a dreaminess did there then reign all over the ship and all over the sea, only broken by the intermitting dull sound of the sword, that it seemed as if this were the Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates. There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely enough to admit of the crosswise interblending of other threads with its own. This warp seemed necessity; and here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads. Meantime, Queequeg’s impulsive, indifferent sword, sometimes hitting the woof slantingly, or crookedly, or strongly, or weakly, as the case might be; and by this difference in the concluding blow producing a corresponding contrast in the final aspect of the completed fabric; this savage’s sword, thought I, which thus finally shapes and fashions both warp and woof; this easy, indifferent sword must be chance—aye, chance, free will, and necessity—wise incompatible—all interweavingly working together. The straight warp of necessity, not to be swerved from its ultimate course—its every alternating vibration, indeed, only tending to that; free will still free to ply her shuttle between given threads; and chance, though restrained in its play within the right lines of necessity, and sideways in its motions directed by free will, though thus prescribed to by both, chance by turns rules either, and has the last featuring blow at events.
Thus we were weaving and weaving away when I started at a sound so strange, long drawn, and musically wild and unearthly, that the ball of free will dropped from my hand, and I stood gazing up at the clouds whence that voice dropped like a wing.
i feel such a kinship with this description of weaving…weaving as the fates do with the ball of free will…there’s something strikingly alchemical that happens when one sits down at a loom.