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Queequeg as the Other

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  • two_owl_night
    Ishmael says that a philosopher is a dyspeptic digester. With much interest I sat watching him. Savage though he was, and hideously marred about the face -
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2006
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      "Ishmael" says that a philosopher is a dyspeptic digester.

      "With much interest I sat watching him. Savage though he was, and
      hideously marred about the face - at least to my taste - his
      countenance yet had a something in it which was by no means
      disagreeable. You cannot hide the soul. Through all his unearthly
      tattooings, I thought I saw the traces of a simple honest heart; and
      in his large, deep eyes, fiery black and bold, there seemed tokens of
      a spirit that would dare a thousand devils. And besides all this,
      there was a certain lofty bearing about the Pagan, which even his
      uncouthness could not altogether maim. He looked like a man who had
      never cringed and never had had a creditor. Whether it was, too, that
      his head being shaved, his forehead was drawn out in freer and
      brighter relief, and looked more expansive than it otherwise would,
      this I will not venture to decide; but certain it was his head was
      phrenologically an excellent one. It may seem ridiculous, but it
      reminded me of General Washington's head, as seen in the popular
      busts of him. It had the same long regularly graded retreating slope
      from above the brows, which were likewise very projecting, like two
      long promontories thickly wooded on top. Queequeg was George
      Washington cannibalistically developed.

      Whilst I was thus closely scanning him, half-pretending meanwhile to
      be looking out at the storm from the casement, he never heeded my
      presence, never troubled himself with so much as a single glance; but
      appeared wholly occupied with counting the pages of the marvellous
      book. Considering how sociably we had been sleeping together the
      night previous, and especially considering the affectionate arm I had
      found thrown over me upon waking in the morning, I thought this
      indifference of his very strange. But savages are strange beings; at
      times you do not know exactly how to take them. At first they are
      overawing; their calm self-collectedness of simplicity seems a
      Socratic wisdom. I had noticed also that Queequeg never consorted at
      all, or but very little, with the other seamen in the inn. He made no
      advances whatever; appeared to have no desire to enlarge the circle
      of his acquaintances. All this struck me as mighty singular; yet,
      upon second thoughts, there was something almost sublime in it. Here
      was a man some twenty thousand miles from home, by the way of Cape
      Horn, that is - which was the only way he could get there - thrown
      among people as strange to him as though he were in the planet
      Jupiter; and yet he seemed entirely at his ease; preserving the
      utmost serenity; content with his own companionship; always equal to
      himself. Surely this was a touch of fine philosophy; though no doubt
      he had never heard there was such a thing as that. But, perhaps, to
      be true philosophers, we mortals should not be conscious of so living
      or so striving. So soon as I hear that such or such a man gives
      himself out for a philosopher, I conclude that, like the dyspeptic
      old woman, he must have "broken his digester." - Moby Dick 1851
      (Herman Melville)

      Existentialism is a foundation which supports nothing. Because
      nothing yet has been built upon it, we each build our own, which in
      its turn will become nothing. Living is not a philosophy, and you
      can't strive to be equal to yourself.

      Mary
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