Friday, July 13, 2012

A Month and a Day Longer


Chapter 88 – Schools and Schoolmasters
Herds of Sperm Whales are usually quite large, but smaller groups of 20-50 are called schools, or, according to the fisherman, a harem; and the head bull is the schoolmaster. 

Chapter 89 – Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish
  A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it; a Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soon catch it.  In other words:
“What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish?  What all men’s minds and opinions but Loose-Fish?  What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish?  What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish?  What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish?  And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?”
Chapter 90 – Heads or Tails
According to the Laws of England: “all whales captured by anybody on the coast of the land,” the head of the whale goes to the King, and the tail goes to the Queen.  And as with a whale, nothing is left.  Obviously, this is unfair.

Chapter 91 – The Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud
Speaking of unfair:  The Pequod encounters the French ship, Rose-Bud, carrying two dead whales; Stubb goes aboard to speak to the first-time captain through an interpreter, and it is apparent he has no knowledge of whaling.  Stubb is able to convince him to release the two dead whales for their own safety, and he graciously complies.  As the Rose-Bud sails from view, Stubb cuts into one of the whales to retrieve what the other captain and crew did not know about: ambergris.

Chapter 92 – Ambergris
Ambergris is the soft, waxy, and highly fragrant and spicy substance found in “the bowels of sick whales” and used in perfumes, candles, hair powder, and pomatum.  Whaling is a stinky business.

 Chapter 93 – The Castaway
Meet Pippin, nicknamed “Pip,” a jolly young black hand aboard the ship who takes the place of an oarsman injured at sea.  The first time in the harpoon boat, Stubb urgently orders the crew to cut away their Fasted whale because Pip jumped into the sea after being tangled in the line; but the second time he jumps, Stubb keeps going and leaves him alone in the lonesome, desolate ocean until the Pequod picks him up.  His mates believe the experience causes his madness; but Ishmael calls it wisdom.

Chapter 94 – A Squeeze of the Hand
As the whale “cools” the spermaceti becomes lumpy and must be manipulated by squeezing the substance into a soft and slippery condition, which Ishmael overly enjoys, especially when mistaking his mates fingers and hands for the lumps.  Ishmael gives more terminology on parts of the whale and how they are managed, and then mentions the blubber room, where many blubber-room men loose their digits to their own spade.

Chapter 95 – The Cassock
Uh, I had to research this.  Never mind.

Chapter 96 – The Try-Works
Is this kinda like the Try-Pots where they serve chowder morning, noon, and night?
Pots and furnaces are used to boil the blubber down to oil, but in the process, which Ishmael describes the stench as that found in a funeral pyre, causes him to lose his orientation, and he hallucinates from the smoke and odor.

Chapter 97 – The Lamp
The whaling ship is like “some illuminated shrine of canonized kings and counselors,” because whalers have easy access to oil for their lamps.

Chapter 98 – Stowing Down and Clearing Up
Recap: 1. “…the great Leviathan is afar off descried from the mast-head; 2...he is chased over the watery moors;  and 3. slaughtered in the valleys of the deep; 4...he is then towed alongside and beheaded; and 5. his great padded surtout becomes the property of his executioner; 6. he is condemned to pots; and 7. his spermaceti, oil, and bone pass unscathed through the fire.”  And now Ishmael presents the final step of “decanting off his oil into the casks and striking them down into the hold.”  Since the oil is a great cleaning substitute, the decks are white and clear; but it isn’t long before the process begins all over again.

Chapter 99 – The Doubloon
Return to the gold coin Ahab nailed to the mainmast: all have an opinion about its image of three mountain peaks pictured with a volcano, a tower, a rooster, and the sky showing the sun entering the zodiac Libra.  Manxman predicts the Moby-Dick will be raised in a month and a day.

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