Friday, June 2, 2023

Kaplowitz Media. Commentary on Moby-Dick; or The Whale (1851) by Herman Melville (Ch. 4 The Counterpane)

Kaplowitz Media. Commentary on Moby-Dick; or The Whale (1851) by Herman Melville (Ch. 4 The Counterpane)

"Upon waking next morning about daylight I found Queequeg's arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife."

What happens at Spouter-Inn stays at Spouter-Inn? We don't know what happened that night. We can only imagine, and since there are some who openly and creatively imagine what might have happened 'tween Holmes and Watson with so much less to go on--well, we can only imagine as I'm quite sure so many do.

We never get clarification on whether Ishmael and Queequeg are odd friends or odd lovers. The simple truth is that 'odd' is the only case that sticks and furthermore not much else would fully matter. My 'gripe' is that I sense no beauty in whatever their relationship is, or at least not enough. Even as Ishmael eyes the strange tattooings on Queequeg's hugging arm it is of morbid fascination moreso than kindly intrigue.

We go from that opening to reminiscences of Ishmael as a child with his stepmother and I really dislike psychoanalysis because people often give me the willies without my needing to scratch their surface. Of interest in his particular childhood recollection: "whether it was a reality or a dream, I could never entirely settle." Funny how that is what is used to elaborate his feelings on waking up in Quequeg's surprising arms.

Each of the two times he is both trapped and accepting. As if wishing to be so and the other two characters, Q and Mom are simply put in place atop and quite unbeknownst to them. A glutton for punishment and cruisin' for a bruisin'. You know, a masochist.

Then Ish watches as Queeequeg cleans and preens for the day ahead and leaves, harpoon in hand. A lil show put on for Ishmael and the potentially peering-through-the-window neighborhood. A flatly told but deeply-searching short chapter which tells you nothing of what you want to know and much of that which you hadn't asked. I appreciate it very much indeed for this. A tantalizing vignette wedged in for quick funsies and maybe down-the-road fodder usage.

A line to ponder from Ishmael beneath/engulfed by Queequeg, "as though naught but death should part us twain," sounds no small bit like a vow of marriage, and one accepted under no small amount of perhaps self-inflicted duress.