It was the anniversary of Moby Dick‘s publication. 15 November 1851. The song was released on 15 November ’18. This has to mean something, but I don’t care what. There’s a clarity that transcends absolutes, and defining something too rigidly is to assume ownership of it. When the meaning’s gone, there is clarity. Instead, I offer acknowledgement of the significance, a grin and a nod, and I move forward.
Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word “understanding.”
-Werner Heisenberg, quantum physicist
Consider this a content warning for all the things you don’t want to see if there is anything you don’t want to see. It’s dark and scary in this forest. If you don’t like the gratuitous schadenfreude and sacrilege, you probably need to leave now. Run fast. Don’t cast your pearls before this swine.
There’s a monomaniacal, iconoclastic aspie on the prowl, drunk off the fermented fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. #fullonAhab – Did I do that right?
There are a lot of people talking about masking right now. It’s a hashtag buzzword. They take off their mask and that means they stop putting on a brave face, that they are somehow more their true selves in public. They dress up like a fairy or unicorn, or they stop hiding their tattoos, or they allow themselves to not do the thing that they don’t want to do. Good for them.
It means something else to me to be unmasked, though. No other version of me could I pretend to be tonight…
Like, the fact that my favorite part about myself is unadulterated, unapologetic madness. I love that I get lost in monomaniacal scavenger hunts, and that I laugh at darkness. I’m not afraid of your scorn. Nothing about you scares me. There’s nothing you can take from me. That’s my favorite part about myself. You can have no ownership of me nor my trajectory. Your opinion about my brain is comedy.
This is long, and best digested slowly and in pieces. There is no point or summary, and the only meaning to be found here is filtered through the history and baggage of your mind’s eye. Instead of expecting to arrive at a conclusion, just expect to dive and explore. I put this out there hoping to make contact, to move with you for a moment.
There’s something in me, something innate, that feels kinship with photons and electrons. I imagine love as the negative charge of an electron, the quanta that hold the universe together. Whatever that innate thing in me is, I cannot exist separately from it.
I love what’s beautiful and strange and indignant and defiant. Sick. Deformed. Divergent. Otherworldly. Monstrous. I was born sick, but I love it.
Hozier’s music has resonated with me since the first instant I heard it, an immediate recognition of a mind that is structured like mine and one that is an architect of syntax and sound. I hear and read in layers, like a pattern recognition of dimensional construction and a harmony of allegorical themes and motifs which have been present since the earliest-recorded literature. The math, science, poetry, invention, art, and prose is more a reflection of love than what I sense in the world of the people around me. It’s the work of monomania, a reflection of the Collective spirit.
In most of these works of art and literature, there’s a layer for everyone to see, a superficial and easily-digested facade that might or might not hint at the Truth of the matter. Then, there’s a layer for a few to see that gets at something real and remonstrative… and beyond that, there are interconnected thematic layers, which unify the whole as a cohesive statement… And by whole, I mean the work of the Truth-teller across centuries, the same threads which run through time and art and the human spirit. They are a light on dark Truths.
It’s a fluke when one of us makes it into recognition before we’re dead, though music has been the more-forgiving medium for escaping the excoriating-regulatory scorn from society’s most firmly-held institutions and beliefs. It was hard to imagine, though, that the lyricism so wrought with the isolation of being an outsider, humble and irreverent, could be kept as pure and honest and resolute after global stardom.
Because properties change upon being observed, and because there are so many rules which have to be followed when we move among the masses. Could it still be possible to move within confines like that?
And then there was Nina Cried Power…
It’s not the waking, it’s the rising
It is the grounding of a foot uncompromising
It’s not forgoeing of the lie
It’s not the opening of eyes
It’s not the waking, it’s the rising
Well, okay. Cool.
It didn’t take him long to establish that he was uncompromising. And then he gives homage to those revolutionaries who have used their superpowers for more than fame or wealth. And there’s Mavis Staples, beautiful, indomitable force of light and power– Mavis who has been working for twice the span of Hozier’s lifetime for freedom. This is how to pay tribute without cultural appropriation. It is how to honor an other, with deference and reverence.
And the layers are still there, but they’re brighter, kinetic, realized. And I see a history in layers. The bringing of the line, the Vendaranyam Salt March, Bloody Sunday, and this guy:
And power is my love when my love reaches to me.
And then the video! People like us, wearing headphones, being profoundly moved by the music layered the same way that time is layered.
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
-Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience
And the EP has a song called “A Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue).” That right there is a whole symposium of dog whistles.
And that’s all cursory and nebulous, but back to the monomania. Hozier’s newest song, “Movement.” So, the day before the song is released, an image is posted on his social media of Hozier, with a book, under water. Thus, begins the journey, or at least the punctuation mark on the journey… the interrobang.
Since the song is to be released on the anniversary of Moby Dick‘s release, of course the underwater imagery pinged something in my brain like an internal aurora borealis, a synesthetic Light show. I had to find the book. I couldn’t see the word on the front, but I knew I’d seen this book before. I often have this feeling, though it can’t be true that I have seen it before. Yet, it’s somehow familiar. It’s in colors that are my bliss, too.
So, I started searching for the book with no other clue but a hunch that it was somehow thematically nautical. I followed my internal compass… my astrolabe.
When I enlarged the image, I could tell that the text on the front had been Photoshopped. There was a purposeful blur over what had been words, with only one word prominent. The letters were a different layer, slightly more pronounced than the book. I couldn’t make out more than the last two letters, maybe three: REE. Best guess was K or X, something, “REE.” I went through every word in every language in every possible combination of letters trying to find it. Nothing resonated except one word, but it felt like a stretch. So, I decided to come back to that later.
Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries–stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.
-Melville, Moby Dick
Eventually, after a ridiculous number of configurations of nautical terms and searching for antiquarian books, I noticed a name which seemed to stand out to me from the others. My brain does this… brings things of significance to the foreground. I have the depth perception of a cyclops. I have a visuospatial IQ in the “disabled” range, but I see those things which are worth seeing in perfect clarity and dimension. Pattern recognition?
We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.
-Niels Bohr, quantum physicist
The name, Frank T. Bullen, seemed to almost bioluminesce in the middle of a sea of blurred and meaningless text. It was worth a shot, and I’ve learned to follow something that feels a little more substantial and purposeful than instinct, but which can’t be considered to be fully-conscious.
Almost on reflex, I typed in the search bar: Melville Frank T. Bullen
Bingo! Bullen wrote novels of whaling and was inspired by Moby Dick. I went through the list of books written by Bullen, and one brought itself to the forefront of my focus: A Son of the Sea. There’s a feeling of kinship for me, and for many of us, with those who have gone before, those of the same Stripe.
Though logically, literally, it’s not in my lineage, I feel, at the level of my soul like I am a relative of Melville. There are many others, too, who feel like family. I know them when I see them, recognize them as my people. Mavis feels like my people, too. Mavis, who left her husband because he told her to stay home and stop giving her music to the world. Mavis has always done the work.
Like Perth, the old Blacksmith from Moby Dick. More on that in Time…
A google image search, and there it was. I had to have it, and not just any version of it. I had to have that exact cover, because there might be some clue in there. I found one copy in the world with this particular cover, and immediately bought it.
I felt a wave of sadness, though, that no one had beaten me to the punch; or that there were others who had, but they might not have been able to afford it. Truly, I wasn’t either.
I wonder if there’s some Truth in these pages, or if the tome was just a catalyst to guide me to Melville. Or Theseus, son of Poseidon, the great reformer who sought to dismantle oppressive social and religious norms? All I knew was that the word, partially obscured by a thumb, was supposed to point me somewhere.
Or, was it just enough to encourage me to stay the course? I stayed the course, even though initially, I was wrong. A higher resolution image came out, and it was clear that the book was The Gold of Chickaree. Same cover, same publisher, same era. It was the first book I found when doing searches, but the writing was terrible, the story was trite, and it didn’t match the theme of Hozier’s Work. It was just for the title, though. The gold was in the word, chickaree.
And, on another binge of monomaniacal hyperfocus, the sun rose on my curiosity. I sleep somewhere between 8-16 hours per week, most weeks. I’ve struggled my whole life with sleeplessness, not seeming to require much more than 2 or 3 hours per night but feeling like it was an imperative. Now, I just go without and accept it.
I feel despair that I need to eat or sleep at all, those banalities and routines which pull me away from the manic rhapsody of a quest for Truths. At 12:01 noon, November 15, I opened the video.
Until this point, I had no idea if my monomania train were on the right track. I had no idea on what ground I was founded. I could have just spent these intense hours with fifty browser windows open and ordering books from distant countries to sail in the wrong direction.
Then, the first verse:
I still watch you when you’re groovin’
As if through water from the bottom of a pool
You’re movin’ without movin’
And when you move, I’m moved
You are a call to motion
There, all of you a verb in perfect view
Like Jonah on the ocean
When you move, I’m moved
This all means so many things in so many layers. My mind begins to pull things out of the stores of memories, some of which are mine. This comes first, a conversation had with a friend, Ben, with whom I recently connected. This was our first conversation. You know… we’re not great at small talk and boundaries. I guess it is because we are socially inept. He has a vision for a novel, and below he attempts to summarize a part of that vision:
In the Bible, Abraham has sex with, Hagar, his Egyptian slave ( his wife’s idea ), in the hopes of bearing a son. His wife, Sarai, doesn’t like it when Hagar becomes pregnant, so Sarai abuses the pregnant slave until Hagar runs away. This, from Genesis 16, KJV:
The wild child, call him Ishmael. The child everyone will be against. But, God didn’t establish a covenant with Ishmael, since Ishmael was not a pureblood.
And more from Ben:
So, yeah… it’s true that we’re bad at small talk. And yes, this is a first conversation with someone from online about whom I knew nothing more than to see a three-line comment about collectivism in the workplace. Within minutes, we were talking about Marx, another one of us. And a few minutes beyond, the quantum. We didn’t ask about where the other lived, how old the other was, single or not, kids or not, degrees and jobs.
I suppose that is an indicator of our low social and emotional intelligence, right?
And now that I know to trust myself, I follow my instinct and find the others. This brand of first conversation was not unique for me. I feel that I have connected with family when this happens, or something even more substantial than family, that I have found another piece of myself. Honey, you’re familiar, like my mirror years ago…
Anyway, I thought of Ahab there, on the bottom of the ocean, watching. Ben had talked about seeing ourselves in other iterations, past and future memories, in other bodies, as if through a watery reflection at a point of zero energy. There’s more that comes to mind, something more fluid and deeply personal, but that’s a Truth not for defining.
Throughout the whole absurd life I’d lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living.
-Camus, The Stranger
So, Jonah on the ocean was confirmation that I was moving in the right direction. In Moby Dick, there’s a pastor who delivers a sermon about obedience to authority and not trusting one’s own conscience. It’s a fiery parody of evangelism, a reflection of the status quo to require submission. A swollen order means a prayer in perfect parody.
Jonah rebelled, though. He boldly defied God and ran from his orders, and then he confronted God with his rage, in an irresistible string of invective.
When you move
I’m put to mind of all that I want to be
When you move
I could never define all that you are to me
This is how I feel about all of the activists, all of the people out there who never sleep and never stop working for the common good, for the vulnerable, against oppression and greed and injustice. I wonder how he found the people for the video for Nina Cried Power, those who suffer and tire, but who never acquiesce. I weep at the talent and movement and Work of someone with the courage to live boldly.
And the line, I could never define all that you are to me. This is not a greeting card sentiment. This goes back to the beginning, to the arrogance of defining that which cannot be measured and should not be defined.
After Moby Dick, Melville published a novel called Pierre; or, the Ambiguities, in which the protagonist happens upon a text titled, “Chronometricals and Horologicals,” which details how God’s clock is measured by chronometrical time, and man’s clock is measured by horological time. The text decries absolutes [ my church offers no absolutes ], drawing the analogy of the horological clock and that its time in one land would be midnight, and such an absolute would have another man in a distant country going to bed at noon.
He suggests that no man can follow the absolutes, that they couldn’t give all they have to the poor and spend their lives in service and doing the work of God because it is not convenient or practicable to their lifestyles; however, sometimes, as an example, God sends a messenger (as a meteoric stone), set to chronometrical time, in what seems a futile attempt because those set by a horological clock will be offended by it and will all work against this messenger aligned with God’s divine time.
Pierre is outcast from his family because he learns that he has a half-sister, Isabel, who is the illegitimate and orphaned child of his father and a refugee. Pierre is supposed to marry a blonde upper-class woman whom his mother sees as a fit. Isabel is wild, with untamed, dark hair and olive skin.
He tells his mother that he is married to Isabel in an attempt to circumvent the unjust inequalities of his half-sister’s fate. And, he is exiled… like Ahab and his pagan anathema of a wife, Jezebel. He is Ishmael, the son of Abraham and his slave Hagar, banished and denied inheritance. Cain fleeing Eden, marked for eternity. I slithered here from Eden just to pine outside your door. He’s Esau, denied his birthright and inheritance for marrying not one, but two Hittite women. Esau’s parents were pissed.
And though I need not go farther into the literature, there is something from Lord Byron’s The Corsair, Canto I, which should be shared:
Fear’d—shunn’d—belied—ere youth had lost her force,
[ I need to be youthfully felt, ’cause God, I never felt young ]
He hated man too much to feel remorse—
And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call,
To pay the injuries of some on all.
He knew himself a villain—but he deem’d
The rest no better than the thing he seem’d;
And scorn’d the best as hypocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.
He knew himself detested, but he knew
The hearts that loath’d him, crouch’d and dreaded too.
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt
From all affection and from all contempt
There, again, back to Ishmael and Ben’s wild children. Pierre is stricken with Isabel, feeling an intense magnetism that renders him non-verbal. She says to him:
This it is, that even now—this moment—surrounds thy visible form, my brother, with a mysterious mistiness; so that a second face, and a third face, and a fourth face peep at me from within thy own. [ There, all of you a verb in perfect view. ] Now dim, and more dim, grows in me all the memory of how thou and I did come to meet. I go groping again amid all sorts of shapes, which part to me; so that I seem to advance through the shapes; and yet the shapes have eyes that look at me. I turn round, and they look at me; I step forward, and they look at me.—Let me be silent now; do not speak to me.
Isabel attempts to explain to Pierre her life and her thoughts, but she is intermittently non-verbal. Melville writes often of those who go “mute,” assigning those characters, like Ahab, a metaphysical quality.
All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret. –
It takes her a long time to gather her thoughts, but he waits with perfect reverence for her to speak, a prayer in perfect piety. There’s a lietmotif throughout the whole text, as if being rendered nonverbal is to align with that which is divine. She tells him:
I have suffered wretchedness, but not because of the absence of happiness, and without praying for happiness. I pray for peace—for motionlessness—for the feeling of myself, as of some plant, absorbing life without seeking it, and existing without individual sensation. I feel that there can be no perfect peace in individualness. Therefore I hope one day to feel myself drank up into the pervading spirit animating all things. I feel I am an exile here. I still go straying.
And therein lies the intense desire to belong to a collective spirit, like the individualism of being is a profanity against the nature of God. Individualism gives rise to supremacy, greed, and egoism. Collectivism is an acknowledgement that the thing which makes us alive, and free, is alive in all of us. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
She goes on to tell her tale, a story of incredible hardship, and this is Pierre’s experience:
ENTRANCED, lost, as one wandering bedazzled and amazed among innumerable dancing lights, Pierre had motionlessly listened to this abundant-haired, and large-eyed girl of mystery.
And, I can imagine now how this made the critics so viciously accuse Melville of insanity. Isabel reaches a point where she feels that words are no longer capable of communicating to Pierre:
“Bring me the guitar!”
Starting from his enchantment, Pierre gazed round the room, and saw the instrument leaning against a corner. Silently he brought it to the girl, and silently sat down again.
“Now listen to the guitar; and the guitar shall sing to thee the sequel of my story; for not in words can it be spoken. So listen to the guitar.”
Instantly the room was populous with sounds of melodiousness, and mournfulness, and wonderfulness; the room swarmed with the unintelligible but delicious sounds. The sounds seemed waltzing in the room; the sounds hung pendulous like glittering icicles from the corners of the room; and fell upon him with a ringing silveryness; and were drawn up again to the ceiling, and hung pendulous again, and dropt down upon him again with the ringing silveryness. Fire-flies seemed buzzing in the sounds; summer-lightnings seemed vividly yet softly audible in the sounds.
And still the wild girl played on the guitar; and her long dark shower of curls fell over it, and vailed it; and still, out from the vail came the swarming sweetness, and the utter unintelligibleness, but the infinite significancies of the sounds of the guitar.
The full text of Pierre; or, the Ambiguities can be read on The Project Gutenburg.
This sensory experience is synesthesia. It is almost identical to how I experience some music. And, there is a reason that the playing of the guitar was so relevant. There, again, with Hozier’s, A Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue), in which this same sentiment is captured. I think of many things, but of Byron, here:
The gentle pressure, and the thrilling touch,The least glance better understood than words,Which still said all, and ne’er could say too much;A language, too, but like to that of birds,Known but to them, at least appearing suchAs but to lovers a true sense affords;Sweet playful phrases, which would seem absurdTo those who have ceased to hear such, or ne’er heard…
I clicked his profile and could tell that it was a second self. The birthday for the profile was July 19, 1969… the date two astronauts from Apollo 11 set foot on the moon. There was intense anti-Trump and anti-fascism on the page, and Marx was in the profile picture. I knew he was my people. I sent a message.
Our first conversation moved quickly…
There were like three lines of text before this. It was full swing from there. It was a collision of worlds, and I understand what Melville really wanted people to understand when they read Pierre. The salacious incest and the soap opera drama was for the people he considered to be ruled by horological time. That was the first layer. The Truth was a dog whistle to his people, those on chronometrical time.
It was the immediate kinship and language of finding your family, of a collective spirit. It’s finding a Truth in someone, recognizing another indignant sojourner dislodged and unmoored.
Within a few minutes, He sent me a message with a link: This is me playing my own composition. So you can know me.
He wanted to be seen, and he hoped that he would be. He was was showing me what he was trying to show the world through his novel, Passacaglia.
Passacaglia is an analytical novel, an expedition into history, love and memory, at once a meticulously-knit narrative woven of multi-colored threads, at once a poetic feat of strength—a uniquely readable and virtuosic work. Passacaglia is a tapestry woven of five different strands, organized rhythmically by the mathematics of site-shifting (the same mathematics that governs juggling, gearing patterns and musical canon). Passacaglia’s narrative threads, thematically diverse, interrelate to each other mysteriously… and the site-shifting function itself—9-1-4-7-3-4-9-1-4-7-3-6 etc.—becomes a musical leitmotif throughout the novel, simultaneously coloring it and governing it. Time-bending, poetically stylized, passionate, quirky and erudite, Passacaglia promises to combine popular appeal with critical acclaim, skillfully shifting between the many sites and modes of memory and love, a tightly-structured airspace crisscrossed with five distinct, crisp trajectories…
He hoped that something in me would recognize something in the composition, that I would know him by hearing it. That I would recognize something in it. I did.
I explained to David my synesthetic response, almost identical to that of what Pierre experienced. And he didn’t doubt me, because he knew. We were something like family, immediately. All the madness. We don’t understand proper boundaries, you know?
And then, there was a woman who found me, or I found her, I’m not sure which. Our chronometricals moved together, to borrow from Melville’s nomenclature. She was pulled into the Aspergian. First, she writes about being an evil twin, the one who was not favored, who could never be in sync with her family and those around her. She muses how though she was not plotting or scheming, people defaulted to the “good and evil” dividers.
It’s not the wall but what’s behind it
The fear of fellow men, his mere assignment
And everything that we’re denied
By keeping the divide
-Hozier, from Nina Cried Power
And then, she writes the first creative piece for the site, act one of a play, The Time Trials of Jonathon Hood. In the play, there are some people, some aspies, born with the ability to bend time. The past and future are of no consequence to them, but they are fitted with timepieces that force them to be synchronized with everyone else. They are heavily monitored.
From Melville’s Chronometricals and Horologicals:
It seems to me, in my visions, that there is a certain most rare order of human souls, which if carefully carried in the body will almost always and everywhere give Heaven’s own Truth, with some small grains of variance. [ … ] Now in an artificial world like ours, the soul of man is further removed from its God and the Heavenly Truth; […]so the chronometric soul, if in this world true to its great Greenwich in the other, will always, in its so-called intuitions of right and wrong, be contradicting the mere local standards and watch-maker’s brains of this earth.
There’s a thread— people who were rejected and met with incredible obstacles and opposition during their turbulent lives; but their legacies and the wisdom they’ve left behind have been invaluable for our society. Their Work. Their passion and courage to challenge the status quo and persist in tireless rebellion against the lies society assented to accept in complicity, were not rewarded during their lives. Melville was regarded as insane. Even until today, Ahab is regarded as a representation of egoism and mental illness.
Seriously, you all can’t understand figurative language or abstract metaphors… It’s because your brains are broken.
It’s a sinister thing to project your limited perceptions onto the Work of others.
Your chief characteristic … Singleness of purpose
Your idea of happiness … To fight
Your idea of misery … Submission
The vice you excuse most … Gullibility
The vice you detest most … Servility
There are more authors and visionaries who are summoned to my consciousness by Movement and the threads it follows, like Yeats, Byron, Shakespeare, Heaney, Wilde, John Gardner, Hermann Hesse, John Kennedy Toole, and so many other others. Like Thoreau. I’ll get to him in a little while.
So move me, baby
Shake like the bough of a willow tree
You do it naturally
Move me, baby
But, of course, there is always Hamlet. Ophelia, beset with grief and wandering around with her bouquet of outcast flowers (weeds and nettles), meets her untimely death after falling from the splintering bough of a willow tree. It brings to mind, too, perhaps a nod in the first couplet: I still watch you when you’re groovin’/As if through water from the bottom of a pool.
You are the rite of movement
Its reasonin’ made lucid and cool
I know it’s no improvement
When you move, I move
You’re less Polunin leapin’
Or Fred Astaire in sequence
Honey, you, you’re Atlas in his sleepin’
And when you move, I’m moved
I think that every word is so profoundly significant here. Reasoning is the only way to empathize with others, and to approach uprightness… or rather to defy traditional morality. All supremacy and oppression is grounded in the absence of reason, of trying to define with absolutes what “should” be or what is.
Melville believed that instead of trying to create or adhere to absolutes, we should embrace Ambiguities. We should learn the limits of our perception and instead work to understand and reason what is the ethical high ground and how that can translate differently for other people in different circumstances.
And Camus had his own brand of the vague as Absurdity. From The Myth of Sisyphus:
The absurd is lucid reasoning noting its limits [ … ] I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it.
Sergei Polunin was the star of the British Royal Ballet, but his art and his passion were being stifled by the conformity and the lack of meaning. The world has punished and pathologized him, speculating about his choices, his scars, his tattoos, and his maturity level.
People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest. -Hermann Hesse
To them, conformity to the status quo means maturity. They don’t want to see him as a monster. As one of us. Something in them wants to see him as reformed. Still, he has followed that passion with intensity, taking flight despite the weight of mediocrity the world has attempted to impose on him.
And, right after I wrote this paragraph, I found this woman:
I really met this beautiful soul, another aspie named Ra Butler, right in the middle of writing this, by pure happenstance, or Synchronicity. Check her site’s mission:
The Monster Heart Mission is all about bringing monsters from all walks of life together by creating a shared identity that we can connect to. We aim to facilitate the reclamation of a term used for those pushed the farthest from society and transform it into a way to communicate uniqueness. We hope to give others who struggle to fit in access to a social and creative outlet for their inner selves. We are all, at least, a little bit monster.
Connect on social media with the hashtag #MonsterHeartMission
See the patterns forming? See the collective identity, established through our Work? Her mission is the same as the mission of the Aspergian.
When you move
I can recall somethin’ that’s gone from me
When you move
Honey, I’m put in awe of somethin’ so flawed and free
Still, he has followed that passion with intensity, taking flight despite the weight of mediocrity the world has attempted to impose on him.
We need the tonic of wildness [… ] At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. -Thoreau, from Walden
Yes, HDT… that tonic of wildness, a cure I know that soothes the soul, does so impossibly
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
-Yeats, from “The Second Coming”
Fred Astaire was another who challenged the status quo and was known for his perfectionism and otherworldly rhythm, timing, passion, accuracy, and exacting architecture of art. He insisted that dance was about advancing the story and adding depth to it, not a sensational way to mindlessly increase the entertainment value of something.
From Fred Astaire’s autobiography:
I have no desire to prove anything by it. [ like you’ve nothing left to prove ] I have never used it as an outlet or a means of expressing myself. I just dance. [ . . . ] When working on my choreography I am not always receptive to outside suggestions or opinions. I believe that if you have something in mind in the way of a creation, such as a new dance, a sequence, or an effect, you are certain to come up with inaccurate criticism and damaging results if you go around asking for opinions.
But this song wasn’t for performers, like Hozier himself. That was Nina Cried Power. That was a recognition of those whose moves are seen and acknowledged. Movement is a love song for those holding up the world without recognition…
You’re Atlas in his sleeping really hit me. I’d had Atlas as my profile picture (left) on social media for a couple months before this song was released, so hearing this line was a validation of my thread of reasoning regarding synchronicity.
Atlas was the Titan who was cruelly punished by Zeus to hold the universe on his shoulders for eternity. Another Esau-Cain-Ahab-Ishmael-Sisyphus, he had engaged in a way against the Olympians, the gods. He was a man of science, philosophy, math, and astronomy, the namesake of the Atlantic Ocean. His reason offended their superstitions.
The thing that really sparked my curiosity was the depiction of Atlas as sleeping. At first, I thought I heard, You’re Atlas when they’re sleeping, or You’re Atlas and they’re sleeping. Why asleep, when the penalty for rebelling against the religious establishment is a tireless task?
Perhaps the easiest part of my scavenger hunt landed me with a musician whose name is Sleeping at Last, and he has an unprecedented approach to the production of music which demonstrates a remarkable dedication to sound and relevance and the kind of work and talent which can only come from someone so singularly focused that he is his Work. He has two years of projects entitled Atlas, with new songs releasing at least once per month. Then, there’s this:
It’s referential, at least in my perception, of the lights and synesthetic response mentioned above by Melville. Photons. The lights, the patterns, the nods to perception and the infinite, the Fibonacci sequence…. Anyway, watch that video. You’ll be rapt, and you will see what I see when I listen to Hozier. It would be an externalization, a metaphor of Truths you can never hold or own, but go read the Atlas I & II lyrics.
What Melville called Ambiguities, Keats called Negative Capability. He posited a Burden of Mystery theory, as described in a letter to John Hamilton Reynolds:
I compare human life to a large Mansion of Many Apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me—The first we step into we call the infant or thoughtless Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think—We remain there a long while, and notwithstanding the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing a bright appearance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length imperceptibly impelled by the awakening of the thinking principle—within us—we no sooner get into the second Chamber, which I shall call the Chamber of Maiden-Thought, than we become intoxicated with the light and the atmosphere, we see nothing but pleasant wonders, and think of delaying there for ever in delight: However among the effects this breathing is father of is that tremendous one of sharpening one’s vision into the heart and nature of Man—of convincing ones nerves that the World is full of Misery and Heartbreak, Pain, Sickness, and oppression—whereby This Chamber of Maiden Thought becomes gradually darken’d and at the same time on all sides of it many doors are set open—but all dark—all leading to dark passages—We see not the balance of good and evil. We are in a Mist—We are now in that state—We feel the ‘burden of the Mystery,’ To this point was Wordsworth come, as far as I can conceive when he wrote ‘Tintern Abbey’ and it seems to me that his Genius is explorative of those dark Passages. Now if we live, and go on thinking, we too shall explore them. he is a Genius and superior to us, in so far as he can, more than we, make discoveries, and shed a light in them—Here I must think Wordsworth is deeper than Milton.
This thread of thought has been present since recorded history, being given different names by different greats. The video from above, “Saturn” by Sleeping at Last, evinces the same Ambiguity as Yeats when he remarks, “The universe was made/ just to be seen by my eyes.” It’s a nod to the notion that the universe is a different thing through the perceptive lens of every individual who experiences it.
Some other musicians have touched on it, as does repeatedly the artist, Sleeping at Last, who even has a creation/origin story referencing the Garden of Eden entitled “Bad Blood.” He leaves the lyrics as a series of questions, refusing to provide any explanation or answer for them. He stirs up paradoxes and leaves them open (lyrics below):
You fixed your eyes on us
Your flesh and blood
A sculpture of water
And unsettled dust
When there was bad blood in us
We learned our lessons
Genesis to the last generation
So we wrestle with it all
The concept of grace
And the faithful concrete
As it breaks our fall
Our questions are all the same
Identical words; how they feel brand new
Against different time frames
Identical words against different time frames [… ]
We study our story arcs
Or were we broken right from the start?
Or hesitant fingerprints
Trace every mountain
Lace every valley
Until we’re convinced
We know it all by heart
Every blade of grass bears our mark
And, I wonder if Sleeping at Last has been inspired because he has read Camus, or because he is wired with the same perceptive lens and collective soul as Camus:
I realize that if through science I can seize phenomena and enumerate them, I cannot, for all that, apprehend the world. Were I to trace its entire relief with my finger, I should not know any more. And you give me the choice between a description that is sure but that teaches me nothing and hypotheses that claim to teach me but that are not sure. A stranger to myself and to the world, armed solely with a thought that negates itself as soon as it asserts, what is this condition in which I can have peace only by refusing to know and to live, in which the appetite for conquest bumps into walls that defy its assaults? To will is to stir up paradoxes. Everything is ordered in such a way as to bring into being that poisoned peace produced by thoughtlessness, lack of heart, or fatal renunciations.
-Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
And this, from, Love in the Time of Cholera:
Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.
I believe Sleeping at Last’s reference of time frames and Gabriel‘s reference to the eternal essence of the human spirit is a nod to the same intuition that Melville had regarding those who perceive God’s time (Chronometricals) as opposed to those who perceive it according to man’s social understanding of time (horologicals).
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.
-Niels Bohr, quantum physicist
Bohr is the quantum physicist responsible for his own version of Ambiguity, the theory of Complementarity, as demonstrated by wave-particle duality. An electron is sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle, and the Truth is contingent on the observer’s perception. It’s quite applicable to the genius-madness duality of Ahab, of which Bohr might respond:
Two sorts of truth: profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.
And back to Hozier‘s anthem, the powerful bridge:
Move like grey skies
Move like a bird of paradise
Move like an odd sight come out at night
I felt a desperation to chase these symbols and find their roots, entangled through layers of time and soil like the aslant willow tree in Hamlet. The first time I had a conversation with David Scaer, he was filming a time lapse of grey skies.
In Fiona Macleod’s Play, The Immortal Hour, in which an outcast immortal feared even by the gods and faeries, Dalua, roams the forest driven by some undefined, unknown force:
Of thistle-gathered shingle, and sea-murmuring woods
Trod once but now untrod… under grey skies
That had the grey wave sighing in their sails
And in their drooping sails the grey sea-ebb,
And with the grey wind wailing evermore
Blowing the dun leaf from the blackening trees,
I have travelled from one darkness to another.
And from Balzac, Comedie Humaine:
Some lives are always dark, worked out under grey skies; but a glorious day when the sun fires a clear atmosphère was the image of the Maytime of their love, during which Etienne hung ail the roses of his past life round Gabrielle’s neck, and the girl bound up ail her future joys with those of her lord.
Then, in John Gardner’s novel, Grendel:
At the pool, firesnakes shot away from me in all directions, bristling, hissing, mysteriously wrought up. They had sensed it too. That beat–steady, inhumanly steady; inexorable. And so, an hour before dawn, I crouched in shadows at the rocky sea-wall, foot of the giants’ work. Low tide. Lead-gray water sucked quietly, stubborn and deliberate, at icy gray boulders. Gray wind teased leafless trees. There was no sound but the ice-cold surge, the cry of a gannet, invisible in grayness above me. A whale passed, long dark shadow two miles out. The sky grew light at my back. Then I saw the sail.
And, From Melville, in Benito Cereno, Part I:
The morning was one peculiar to that coast. Everything was mute and calm; everything grey. The sea, though undulated into long roods of swells, seemed fixed, and was sleeked at the surface like waved lead that has cooled and set in the smelter’s mould. The sky seemed a grey mantle. Flights of troubled grey fowl, kith and kin with flights of troubled grey vapors among which they were mixed, skimmed low and fitfully over the waters, as swallows over meadows before storms. Shadows present, foreshadowing deeper shadows to come.
Three authors, three different time periods, three nearly-identical excerpts.
Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.
There are leitmotifs which are present throughout more than just the literature of the world. Some of us are wired, born to rebel against the black-and-white (not grey) absolutes that exist to keep oppression in place. We long for a sea change in the status quo.
Move like a bird of paradise, from Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:
To the rarest genius it is the most expensive to succumb and conform to the ways of the world. Genius is the worst of lumber, if the poet would float upon the breeze of popularity. The bird of paradise is obliged constantly to fly against the wind, lest its gay trappings, pressing close to its body, impede its free movements.
He is the best sailor who can steer within the fewest points of the wind, and extract a motive power out of the greatest obstacles. Most begin to veer and tack as soon as the wind changes from aft, and as within the tropics it does not blow from all points of the compass, there are some harbors which they can never reach.
I suppose this will be a harbor they can never reach. It’s their mind-blindness, poor souls.
And there’s the novel, Birds of Paradise, by Paul Scott. I just happened upon this book this week, and have not yet read it. However, there’s an insightful article about it by Dr. T. S. Chandra Mouli on Boloji.com which summarizes the central themes of the book. Truth and the search for it, while maintaining the awareness of the limits of perception to define absolutes, is a central theme. It echoes heavily the sentiments of Camus’s notions of Lucidity and Absurdity, and in the rejection of the comfort of systems of belief as a purposeful rebellion against the oppression caused by those systems:
the relationship of the private lives of individuals to history; the relativity of ‘truth’ as one knows it;
the epistemological question – the difficulty of arriving at truth; the isolation of individuals;
the relation of a man’s life to his vocation or career;
the lost childhood and the quest for paradise,
the distinction (and even the conflict) between ‘the consumers’, who cultivate and survive on illusions, and
the ‘questers’ distinguished by the inability to sustain their illusions; and
the real symbolic significance of man’s relationship with the non-human natural world.
The signal on which I have spent the most time, and perhaps the one which feels most open, is Move like an odd sight come out at night. “Odd sight” is such a break from Hozier‘s lexicon, it is an obvious nod in a direction. But what direction? I feel the exact phrase is there, somewhere, in the threads, though I can’t find it. Maybe some benevolent reader will direct me to it.
The first instinct I had was Grendel, and that is John Gardner’s Grendel. He’s the reasoned, Truth-seeking antihero monster of the book, bearing the allegorical mark of Cain. But I didn’t find that phrase there. I thought maybe the Phantom of the Opera, Quasimodo, Frankenstein’s monster, Gregor the giant beetle… I’ve looked in nearly everything Melville, Byron, Joyce, Eliot (T.S. and George), Ellison, Steinbeck, Heaney, Thoreau, Kafka, Camus, Wilde, Homer, Thackery, Yeats, Keats, Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Swift, Orwell, Wilde, Salinger, Cervantes, Tolstoy, Shelley, Coleridge, Hawthorne, Faulkner, Twain, Bronte (two of them) wrote. I must’ve downloaded and/or checked out and subsequently returned hundreds of books.
I thought that Odd/God/Sight/Night might be part of a quatrain in poetry, but I didn’t know how to search something like that.
I asked some friends and got some cool answers: Comets, will-o-the-wisp, hermit crabs, aurora borealis, Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting (right), Truth Coming from the Well Armed with Her Whip to Chastise Mankind, Cyclops, a Minotaur in a labyrinth, UFOs, Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, sirens, Nosferatu, faeries, Gaiman’s American Gods, and many other reasoned suggestions.
But, I felt a reaching– power is my love when my love reaches to me— back to Melville, back to Benito Cereno. To this:
It might have been but a deception of the vapours, but, the longer the stranger was watched, the more singular appeared her manoeuvres. Ere long it seemed hard to decide whether she meant to come in or no- what she wanted, or what she was about. The wind, which had breezed up a little during the night, was now extremely light and baffling, which the more increased the apparent uncertainty of her movements.
The above happens right after the grey skies of Ambiguity quoted above from the same work. As if on some phantom wind, the ship moves oddly, like it’s driven by a “baffling” otherworldly force. On the side, crudely chalked, is the Spanish phrase: Seguid vuestro jefe, or in English, Follow your leader. The story is an anti-racism, anti-slavery tale in which the slaves mutiny. The Follow your leader sentiment was later elucidated when this happened:
But by this time the cable of the San Dominick had been cut; and the fag-end, in lashing out, whipped away the canvas shroud about the beak, suddenly revealing, as the bleached hull swung round toward the open ocean, death for the figurehead, in a human skeleton; chalky comment on the chalked words below, “Follow your leader.”
The figurehead, the oppressive captain, is a warning to those who would seek to derail the movement. It’s a nod to the revolutionary spirit of those no longer willing to be oppressed. The chalky skeleton, the white slave trader, the white whale, the great mask of piety…
Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!
Ahab’s first mate and foil, Starbuck, tries to sequester the pursuit of the white whale. He is the counterbalance to Ahab’s monomania and passion. He is a picture of traditional morality, an upholder of it. He first attempts to dissuade Ahab by suggesting that the pursuit of the white whale is not financially viable, to which Ahab ripostes that Starbuck needs to see on another level and perceive the value of a different type of capital. Then, Starbuck retorts:
“Vengeance on a dumb brute!” cried Starbuck, “that simply smote thee from blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous.”
It seems blasphemous? Seems? And in response, from Ahab:
“Hark ye yet again — the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event — in the living act, the undoubted deed — there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But ’tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who’s over me? Truth hath no confines.
Movement is a love song to revolutionaries the same as Nina Cried Power.
The video is as symbolic as are the lyrics, leveled in significance, like the tiered levels of the warehouse. There are many interpretations, but the real brilliance of the video is in it’s capacity to demonstrate the perceptive differences of the eyes watching the video.
Most people, I imagine, will see the parable as a classic good-angel-bad-angel, perceiving the scarred, tattooed version as aggressive and abusive. They will see his anger as threatening, his warm smile as an ominous leer. They’ll see his intensity and power through a lens of suspicion, being innately repelled by the force of which he’s capable.
The one in white, like Starbuck in Moby Dick, could only penetrate one level below the surface. His moves are stunted, mediocre, and basic. They lack originality or fire. To them, it’s unacceptable to stand out too much, so exceptional can only be a single shade away from average. So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll call the self in white, with no tattoos and no scars, Starbuck. The one in red, with his scars, we will call Ahab. The reflection, call him Ishmael. heh
Conformity stifles progress and passion. In the image (above), note Ahab’s superhuman, otherworldly arc.
Not a word he [ Ahab ] spoke; nor did his officers say aught to him; though by all their minutest gestures and expressions, they plainly showed the uneasy, if not painful, consciousness of being under a troubled master-eye. And not only that, but moody stricken Ahab stood before them with a crucifixion in his face; in all the nameless regal overbearing dignity of some mighty woe.
And for the one fraction of a second, what happens to moody Ahab when he is forced to be mundanely in sync with Starbuck…
They say the awkward ones, but my second hand’s in sync…
There’s another leitmotif I have been following, a parallel aXis, concerning the “edge,” and what that means and what is beyond it. I believe the willow in Hamlet, aslant between the water and the land, is that edge. Sometimes, it references a sense of reality and a void beyond it, and sometimes it is conceived as cheating by suicide, a way to expedite the journey and attain respite from the despair on the way to the next level.
I will not further indulge the edge thread, nor the wall thread I began to tangentially chase…at least not here, save for this, of Perth and the suffering he has endured:
Death seems the only desirable sequel for a career like this; but Death is only a launching into the region of the strange Untried; it is but the first salutation to the possibilities of the immense Remote, the Wild, the Watery, the Unshored; therefore, to the death-longing eyes of such men, who still have left in them some interior compunctions against suicide, does the all-contributed and all-receptive ocean alluringly spread forth his whole plain of unimaginable, taking terrors, and wonderful, new-life adventures; and from the hearts of infinite Pacifics, the thousand mermaids sing to them —“Come hither, broken-hearted; here is another life without the guilt of intermediate death; here are wonders supernatural, without dying for them. Come hither! bury thyself in a life which, to your now equally abhorred and abhorring, landed world, is more oblivious than death. Come hither! put up thy grave-stone, too, within the churchyard, and come hither, till we marry thee!”
Hearkening to these voices, East and West, by early sunrise, and by fall of eve, the blacksmith’s soul responded, Aye, I come! And so Perth went a-whaling.
And back to Perth, and his movement, his Work, and how he was regarded by others:
Often he would be surrounded by an eager circle, all waiting to be served; holding boat-spades, pikeheads, harpoons, and lances, and jealously watching his every sooty movement, as he toiled. Nevertheless, this old man’s was a patient hammer wielded by a patient arm. No murmur, no impatience, no petulance did come from him. [ No tired sighs, no rolling eyes, no irony/no who cares, no vacant stares, no Time for me] Silent, slow, and solemn; bowing over still further his chronically broken back, he toiled away, as if toil were life itself, and the heavy beating of his hammer the heavy beating of his heart.
The metonymy, the representation of Perth’s arm and hammer, his Work, as a reflection of his whole self, his identity, is a reflection of the way my people’s identity is constructed, as opposed to the social belonging which underscores most people’s identity. Perth toils under a chronically-broken back, like Atlas. He holds up the universe without acknowledgement… except from Ahab, who is perceived to lack empathy. When no one else would ever notice that Perth isn’t scorched by the sparks that fly from his anvil when his hammer strikes it, Ahab asks about it:
“Because I am scorched all over, Captain Ahab,” answered Perth, resting for a moment on his hammer; “I am past scorching-, not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.”
“Well, well; no more. Thy shrunk voice sounds too calmly, sanely woeful to me. In no Paradise myself, I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should’st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can’st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can’st not go mad?”
It’s reminiscent of this quote, from Melville, in a letter to a friend:
I do not oscillate in Emerson’s rainbow, but prefer rather to hang myself in mine own halter than swing in any other man’s swing. Yet I think Emerson is more than a brilliant fellow. Be his stuff begged, borrowed, or stolen, or of his own domestic manufacture he is an uncommon man. [ … ] Now, there is a something about every man elevated above mediocrity, which is, for the most part, instinctuly perceptible. This I see in Mr Emerson. And, frankly, for the sake of the argument, let us call him a fool; — then had I rather be a fool than a wise man. —I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more; & if he don’t attain the bottom, why, all the lead in Galena can’t fashion the plumet that will. I’m not talking of Mr Emerson now — but of the whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving & coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.
I could readily see in Emerson, notwithstanding his merit, a gaping flaw. It was, the insinuation, that had he lived in those days when the world was made, he might have offered some valuable suggestions. These men are all cracked right across the brow. And never will the pullers-down be able to cope with the builders-up. And this pulling down is easy enough — a keg of powder blew up Block’s Monument — but the man who applied the match, could not, alone, build such a pile to save his soul from the shark-maw of the Devil. But enough of this Plato who talks thro’ his nose.
[ So tired tryin’ to see from behind the red in my eyes… ]
Socrates died for Truth, where Plato fled to safety and then bastardized Soc’s philosophy and turned it into an elitist, complicit, safe, self-serving dogma. So glad that Plato isn’t directing Hozier’s videos anymore…
Ahab wanted for Perth that he would find a purpose and rush toward it, like he’d nothing left to lose, and nothing to prove.
Anyway, enough about all that and back to the underwater picture:
Will I have eyes at the bottom of the sea, supposing I descend those endless stairs? -Melville’s Ahab
I could never answer the questions definitively, nor should I… but I will throw out where I landed, and what I saw.
The tattoo, Noli timere. Seamus Heaney’s last words, don’t be afraid.
“CKAREE” could only be “chickaree.” I know this from searching those letters in partial words in at least 60 languages. Yeah, monomaniacal. From Walden,
Defying humanity to stop them…
And the grin:
A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.
-Melville, in Pierre, or the Ambiguities
There was more, so much more, that I found on this monomaniacal scavenger hunt, but that’s for another time…
I am not sure why I’m putting this out there, but I predict that it will remain in the shadows. It’s my hope that it inspires someone residing in the dark places to chase their madness down all the flights of stairs, or to empower someone to stop rejecting the best of themselves.
Am I saying that Hozier has Asperger’s, or Melville, or Thoreau, or Camus? No. I could never define all that they are. Neither should you.
No one has ever come close to getting it right with defining what it means to be an aspie, anyway. I’m just saying that they are relatable, to me, and most people aren’t. I appreciated the scavenger hunt. I appreciate his courage and his mind.
My thoughts are feelings, and nothing here is a conclusion. It’s just an invitation to explore a little, mutually, in case anyone wants to add to the threads with his or her own contributions. My thoughts aren’t Hozier‘s. I can’t know what he means, exactly. I can only filter what he has put out there through what I know and think. I feel that I understand enough to know that he has profound insights, and it’s validating to feel common ground with someone who speaks my language.
And, I appreciate your mind. If you made it this far, if anything in this madcap Jeremiad has caused your perception to change about anything, or has shown you a new way to think and understand and feel, then I’d love to know. This is a conversation I would love to have. I’m desperate to have conversations about something that feels true.
But maybe, now, you can at least understand why we listen to the same songs over and over…
And, for fun… if you had any doubts about whether or not I am on the right path– of Ahab and his reputation as a godless, sinful, evil man:
But nothing about that thing that happened to him off Cape Horn, long ago, when he lay like dead for three days and nights; nothing about that deadly skrimmage with the Spaniard afore the altar in Santa? — heard nothing about that, eh? Nothing about the silver calabash he spat into?
And of Ahab’s wife:
So good-bye to thee — and wrong not Captain Ahab, because he happens to have a wicked name. Besides, my boy, he has a wife — not three voyages wedded — a sweet, resigned girl. Think of that; by that sweet girl that old man had a child: hold ye then there can be any utter, hopeless harm in Ahab? No, no, my lad; stricken, blasted, if he be, Ahab has his humanities!
And from the novel, Ahab’s Wife; or, The Stargazer, a historical novel about Ahab based on the single paragraph about his wife, (as cited above) by Sena Jeter Naslund:
Boys, when my baby found me
I was three days on a drunken sin
I woke with her walls around me
Nothin’ in her room but an empty crib
And I was burning up a fever
I didn’t care much how long I lived
But I swear, I thought I dreamed her
She never asked me once about the wrong I did
And from the first verse:
There’s nothin’ sweeter than my baby
I’d never want once from the cherry tree
‘Cause my baby’s sweet as can be
She give me toothaches just from kissin’ me
And the last lines of Moby Dick, after a three-days chase of the whale:
Soon the two ships diverged their wakes; and long as the strange vessel was in view, she was seen to yaw hither and thither at every dark spot, however small, on the sea. This way and that her yards were swung around; starboard and larboard, she continued to tack; now she beat against a head sea; and again it pushed her before it; while all the while, her masts and yards were thickly clustered with men, as three tall cherry trees, when the boys are cherrying among the boughs.
But by her still halting course and winding, woeful way, you plainly saw that this ship that so wept with spray, still remained without comfort. She was Rachel, weeping for her children, because they were not.