Day 4Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
March 21, 2022 by Yiyun Li
“Queequeg, for his own private reasons, preferred his own harpoon.” Just as a violinist carries his own violin, a sculptor his own tools, Queequeg is a true professional of the art of whaling. (Though Ishmael, the amateur, is the better storyteller.)
In sandy Nantucket: “one blade of grass makes an oasis, three blades in a day’s walk a prairie.” Blessed are the souls for whom quantity is secondary. Or, as the Buddha said: one flower, one world; one leaf, one bodhi.
“For all men tragically great are made so through a certain morbidness. Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease.” The affinity between Ishmael and Eastern philosophy: these lines could easily come from Dream of the Red Chamber.