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Moby Dick Chapter 57 Of Whales in Paint, Teeth; Wood; Sheet-Iron; Stone; Mountains; 
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Post Moby Dick Chapter 57 Of Whales in Paint, Teeth; Wood; Sheet-Iron; Stone; Mountains;
CHAPTER 57. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0057
Quote:
skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of the rough material, in their hours of ocean leisure. Some of them have little boxes of dentistical-looking implements, specially intended for the skrimshandering business. But, in general, they toil with their jack-knives alone; and, with that almost omnipotent tool of the sailor, they will turn you out anything you please, in the way of a mariner's fancy.

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Quote:
Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a savage, owning no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him. Now, one of the peculiar characteristics of the savage in his domestic hours, is his wonderful patience of industry. An ancient Hawaiian war-club or spear-paddle, in its full multiplicity and elaboration of carving, is as great a trophy of human perseverance as a Latin lexicon. For, with but a bit of broken sea-shell or a shark's tooth, that miraculous intricacy of wooden net-work has been achieved; and it has cost steady years of steady application. As with the Hawaiian savage, so with the white sailor-savage. With the same marvellous patience, and with the same single shark's tooth, of his one poor jack-knife, he will carve you a bit of bone sculpture, not quite as workmanlike, but as close packed in its maziness of design, as the Greek savage, Achilles's shield; and full of barbaric spirit and suggestiveness, as the prints of that fine old Dutch savage, Albert Durer.

This is an interesting comparison between modernity and traditional society, with Melville suggesting traditional indigenous art is a suggestive as that "Dutch savage Durer" Here is a typical piece from Durer
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Quote:
to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, ... beneath the effulgent Antarctic skies I have boarded the Argo-Navis, and joined the chase against the starry Cetus ....With a frigate's anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!

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Here is Cetus. I have studied Argo in some depth, for example here where I argue that Europeans failed to understand this constellation because they could not see it.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sun May 13, 2012 5:24 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun May 13, 2012 5:23 am
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