Moby Dick Chapter 73 Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk Over Him
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0073
The surprising catch of a right whale.
A further Biblical reference. In 1 Corinthians 10:4
Saint Paul tells us that this rock which Melville compares to the whale is in fact Jesus Christ.
But what for, on a voyage whose sole intent is to kill the White Whale?
Sailors are superstitious
Leading to a discussion of how the stowaway Felallah the Parsee is in fact the devil incarnate.
This is quite a racist attitude on their part towards Islam. They speculate that Captain Ahab has struck a Faustian bargain with Mephistopheles, selling his soul for power to catch Moby Dick.
"What's the old man have so much to do with him for?"
"Striking up a swap or a bargain, I suppose."
"Why, do ye see, the old man is hard bent after that White Whale, and the devil there is trying to come round him, and get him to swap away his silver watch, or his soul, or something of that sort, and then he'll surrender Moby Dick."
"Pooh! Stubb, you are skylarking; how can Fedallah do that?"
"I don't know, Flask, but the devil is a curious chap, and a wicked one, I tell ye.
So how does one deal with devils on board ship?
I'll just take him by the nape of his neck, and say—Look here, Beelzebub, you don't do it; and if he makes any fuss, by the Lord I'll make a grab into his pocket for his tail, take it to the capstan, and give him such a wrenching and heaving, that his tail will come short off at the stump—do you see; and then, I rather guess when he finds himself docked in that queer fashion, he'll sneak off without the poor satisfaction of feeling his tail between his legs."
"And what will you do with the tail, Stubb?"
"Do with it? Sell it for an ox whip when we get home;—what else?"
What else indeed.
The right whale balances the sperm whale tied to the ship, opening a further metaphysical comparison.
As before, the Pequod steeply leaned over towards the sperm whale's head, now, by the counterpoise of both heads, she regained her even keel; though sorely strained, you may well believe. So, when on one side you hoist in Locke's head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant's and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep trimming boat. Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and right.
This reminds me of the titanic clash I mentioned elsewhere recently between Hume and Kant. In the blue corner, Hume argues there is no necessary connection between cause and effect. In the red corner, Kant maintains that time, space, causality and duty are the necessary conditions of experience.