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Additional resources for The Salt-Sea Mastodon: A Reading of Moby-Dick

Sample text

The] iron fiend! " The bird acts as a perceptual catalyst: the narrator is revitalized by his regal crow­ ing. In an instant he projects a completely different world, using the same details of landscape and view which had but a moment before only exacerbated his depression: Ah, here comes the down-train: white cars, flashing through the trees like a vein of silver. How cheerfully the steam-pipe chirps! Gay are the passengers . . Look at the mist yonder; what soft curls and undulations round the hills, and the sun weaving his rays among them.

Having many names, from the Danish Hvalt to the Erromangoan Pehee­ Nuee-Nuee, Leviathan has no name and, like Yahweh, is unnamed and unnameable. This is the meaning, too, of the "Extracts" accum­ ulated by a "mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub [-Librarian] " : centuries of speculation, of that which is "said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan" have re­ sulted in a morass of "higgledy-piggledy whale statements" which brings one only minutely closer to the basaltic verities of the primal world.

Taken together, these various extracetological light-metaphors simply measure the depth of Melville's identification with English The Creative Lamp-Mind: The Metaphor of Illumination 17 and Continental romantic theory which, as M. H. " The second makes the mind a "radiant projector which makes a contribution to the objects it perceives": I n eighteenth-century theory, the minor topic o f the way feelings may enter into and alter obj ects of sense had been discussed under the heading of "style," as one of various justifying causes of certain figures of speech.

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