October 24, 2012

The universal thump

"For my part, I abominate all honorable respectable toils, trials and tribulations of every kind whatsoever."--Ishmael in Moby-Dick.

Here's yet another reason why everyone should read this greatest American novel: most of us are grunts one way or another and the book basically sings the greatness of gruntdom. And even if you have a good gig, you gotta serve somebody, as Dylan sang. Ishmael takes great pride in taking to sea as a simple sailor, even though it means getting ordered about and yelled at.

In his view, the human condition is such that we are all in one way or another a grunt at the disposal of some arbitrary power, even if it is simply that of an indifferent universe:
What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about-however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way-either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder blades, and be content.
I don't think I have Ishmael's confidence that things equal out over time, but I appreciate the generosity of his sentiment.

WHAT HE SAID. WV's senior senator goes off on the Ryan budget here.

GRANDMOTHERS made us what we are today. Maybe even literally.

THE DONALD HATCHES A DUD. Not much of a Trump card. (Full disclosure: the Spousal Unit and I used to dream of a 2012 Trump/Palin ticket purely for the entertainment value. You betcha.)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Ayn Rand would have thought of the grandmother hypothesis