December 18, 2002

Melville excerpt:
"Very often do the captains of ships take absent-minded young philosophers to task, upbraiding them with not feeling sufficient 'interest' in the voyage; half-hinting that they are so hopelessly lost to all honorable ambition.

Lulled in such an opium-like listlessness of vacate, unconscious reverie is the 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...In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came, like Wickliff's sprinkled Pantheistic ashes.

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. Heed it well, ye Pantheists!"
--H. Melville, Moby Dick

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