Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Gnostic Amusements in Moby-Dick

In response to Dario's comment concerning yesterday's Highbrow post, here is another passage in Moby-Dick representing Melville's Gnostic speculations. This is from chapter 66, "The Shark Massacre". A number of sharks--which  have been attacking and devouring a whale tied to the side of the ship--begin to devour each other:
They viciously snapped, not only at each other’s disembowelments, but like flexible bows, bent round, and bit their own; till those entrails seemed swallowed over and over again by the same mouth, to be oppositely voided by the gaping wound. Nor was this all. It was unsafe to meddle with the corpses and ghosts of these creatures. A sort of generic or Pantheistic vitality seemed to lurk in their very joints and bones, after what might be called the individual life had departed.
A shark is hoisted on board in order to skin it, and it nearly takes off Queequeg's hand.  The harpooner responds:
“Queequeg no care what god made him shark,” said the savage, agonizingly lifting his hand up and down; “wedder Fejee god or Nantucket god; but de god wat made shark must be one dam Ingin.”
Clearly, an expression (however humorous) of the Gnostic worldview.

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