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Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend 
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Post Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
Chapter Link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0010

This chapter opens the bosom buddy relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg, with Queequeg declaring he would gladly die for Ishmael, if need should be. It is chock-full of memorable quotes, and well worth reading by itself.

So-called savages are often more humane than the so-called civilized. Ishmael says "You cannot hide the soul," indicating that true character shines through surface impressions, and that real beauty comes from within. In a heartfelt ode, Melville writes "Through all his unearthly tattooings, I thought I saw the traces of a simple honest heart; and in his large, deep eyes, fiery black and bold, there seemed tokens of a spirit that would dare a thousand devils. And besides all this, there was a certain lofty bearing about the Pagan, which even his uncouthness could not altogether maim. He looked like a man who had never cringed and never had had a creditor."

An element of of absurdity intrudes with the observation that "his head was phrenologically an excellent one. ... George Washington cannibalistically developed." You get the sense Melville is satirising the racist 'science' of his day that claimed measurement of cranial dimension could reveal facts of character, because he presents the 'primitive' as a Washingtonian hero.

Queequeg's cool demeanour is shown as "thrown among people as strange to him as though he were in the planet Jupiter; and yet he seemed entirely at his ease; preserving the utmost serenity;"

In Chapter One, Melville had heaped scorn upon the metaphysical professors, and he continues the sarcasm here, saying "soon as I hear that such or such a man gives himself out for a philosopher, I conclude that, like the dyspeptic old woman, he must have "broken his digester."

The sense of moral superiority of the primitive emerges with Melville's description of modern life as "civilized hypocrisies and bland deceits." The dishonesty of the modern world leads Ishmael to say "I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy."

The sense of easy belonging and companionate friendship is struck up with an immediacy rarely seen among the lonely advanced: "we sat exchanging puffs from that wild pipe of his... this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies."

It is far from clear what Queequeg sees in Ishmael, but there is something: "He made me a present of his embalmed head; took out his enormous tobacco wallet, and groping under the tobacco, drew out some thirty dollars in silver; then spreading them on the table, and mechanically dividing them into two equal portions, pushed one of them towards me, and said it was mine."

And now we get the theological dig with its Pauline logic: "I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth—pagans and all included—can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible! But what is worship?—to do the will of God—THAT is worship. And what is the will of God?—to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me—THAT is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me? Why, unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must then unite with him in his; ergo, I must turn idolator."

Here the theme 'do unto others' is turned into the heretical blasphemy, from the pious view, that we should have respect for heathens. Loathsome as it might seem to the racist self-elect, Melville's logic is impeccable, that Biblical faith requires love for diversity.

"there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair." And so the homoerotic teasing continues, with a love whose puritan platonic framework makes it purely spiritual.


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
This is such an interesting chapter and I am surprised that there hasn't been more discussion of it.

I was intrigued by the picture of Queequeg counting the pages of the many-paged book, in amazement. It made me think of the alleged tribe who only count by one, two and many. I am thinking how far before his time was Melville. Questioning the very basics of our understanding....as with counting and ratios, as with our concept of time.....I thought this questioning was a fairly recent phenomenon, brought on by the discovery of quantum physics.

This short video is interesting, showing the aborigine's concept of numbering things.

http://numberwarrior.wordpress.com/2010 ... ny-a-myth/


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
The part about Queequeg counting the pages reminded me of a story my partner, an ex headmaster used to say. He was writing a note to another teacher, and a small boy was waiting to take it. ‘Sir!’ said the small boy (who was from a family who had very little interest in education) ‘That’s an awful lot of words!!’
I also found it refreshing that two men can form a friendship, sleep together, call themselves ‘a cozy, loving pair’ and yet did not feel there was a hint of homosexuality, just genuine friendship. (Or am I being naïve?) It’s something that in the West would automatically be assumed to be a gay relationship, but here in Africa, and in other parts of the world, it’s quite normal for men to walk down the street holding hands (and often sharing a bed if they only have one).


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
heledd wrote:
I also found it refreshing that two men can form a friendship, sleep together, call themselves ‘a cozy, loving pair’ and yet did not feel there was a hint of homosexuality, just genuine friendship. (Or am I being naïve?) It’s something that in the West would automatically be assumed to be a gay relationship, but here in Africa, and in other parts of the world, it’s quite normal for men to walk down the street holding hands (and often sharing a bed if they only have one).


Heledd you are so right. I would say in general Americans are not aware of how differently men behave toward each one another in other places in the world. In the 18th & 19th century in the USA social customs and mores were quite different regarding sleeping than they are today. Sharing a bed with an another adult, not one's spouse would have been common place. Necessity would have required the sharing of beds, as in general people did not have such large homes or even more than a room or two. If a visitor came the only place to sleep would have been with you or another member of the family. Here is a guess at another contributing factor - lack of central heat. I know that if it were me, I'd want to sleep near to the fire or in a bed with another warm body. It is interesting to me as the wealth of individuals increased and house size grew, privacy increases and my guess is that notions about what is appropriate or acceptable followed after.

Here I'll throw this in too, Bundling, a defunct practice that involves sharing a bed. Amazing just how much has changed in the USA over the past 150 or so years. I can hardly imagine this practice in use today?!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundling_(tradition)

Bundling, or tarrying, was the traditional practice of wrapping one person in a bed accompanied by another, usually as a part of courting behavior. The tradition is thought to have originated either in the Netherlands or in the British Isles and later became common in Colonial America,[1][2] especially in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. When used for courtship, the aim was to allow intimacy without sexual intercourse.

Here is another copied excerpt from an article I found about the history of family sleeping arrangements in the USA.

Historians note that in colonial times on the eastern seaboard, several people slept in the same bed - it was the only way to sleep in such small houses. But when new ideas about privacy began to appear in the 19th century, housing reflected those changes, and suddenly there were private sleeping rooms, first in public houses and then in private homes.

Ah, here is an interesting thing happening in my post; a chicken and egg problem. If you will notice the order of events I proposed, behavior changed and then the ideas and beliefs follow and the contrast of the piece I posted. This is an argument that could rage for hours. In this case I would argue vehemently that first we became more and more affluent, allowing bigger and bigger homes, which intern creates privacy and then the new ideas of what is right follow. I would also argue that central heating played a part in this drama.



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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
'Bundling' was a very common practice in Wales a few hundred years ago. Will try and find links to it when I have net (am in an internet cafe with poor reception)


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
"Spooning" is a related practice not seen since the days of really cold indoor nights. Tony Horwitz writes about male spooning in his very funny book "Confederates in the Attic." He tagged along with a group a hardcore Civil War reenactors. When it came time for sleep, everyone basically cuddled for warmth. Somebody would call out "Spoon left!" then after a while, "Spoon right," and the men would flip over. Horwitz had wondered whether the intense male bonding of reenacting had some other dimension to it, and when it came time to sleep, his suspicions rose!



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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
DWill wrote:
"Spooning" is a related practice not seen since the days of really cold indoor nights. Tony Horwitz writes about male spooning in his very funny book "Confederates in the Attic." He tagged along with a group a hardcore Civil War reenactors. When it came time for sleep, everyone basically cuddled for warmth. Somebody would call out "Spoon left!" then after a while, "Spoon right," and the men would flip over. Horwitz had wondered whether the intense male bonding of reenacting had some other dimension to it, and when it came time to sleep, his suspicions rose!

:lol: I just bet he did!



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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
Well perhaps they never lived in the summer in West Africa where the night temperatures can often exceed 40 degrees celcius


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
heledd wrote:
Well perhaps they never lived in the summer in West Africa where the night temperatures can often exceed 40 degrees celcius

And for those of us in the world of farenheit that means 104!



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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
Quote:
Saffron wrote:

And for those of us in the world of farenheit that means 104!


104!!!!!! That's sticky. I wonder anyone ever has sex at all at those temperatures....hetero or otherwise.


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
Anyone who has ever had sex would know - when you want it, you'll do it, regardless.



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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 10 A Bosom Friend
Quote:
WWW: Anyone who has ever had sex would know - when you want it, you'll do it, regardless.



Hmmm....Not married to an Englishman are you?

We occasionally have some hot sultry weather and a few years ago I wanted to have one of those ceiling fans fitted in our bedroom. OH was appalled at the idea. 'People will think we're peculiar', he said. :(


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Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


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