30 December, 2007

The Aorta of a Whale

"The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the main pipe of the water-works at London Bridge, and the water roaring in its passage through that pipe is inferior in impetus and velocity to the blood gushing from the whale's heart."

As quoted from Paley's Theology in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

I'm reading Moby-Dick now, and although I'm not very far into the story, I've already found a plethora of striking passages. Ishmael is a boy who requires the constant pulsing life of the Ocean, because although there is danger in movement, in travel and adventure, there is also an intensely exhilarating energy and life-force. Sea travel encompasses that enormous feeling of potential energy you have when you stand on the edge of a cliff (figuratively and literally). The sea is a powerful creature all on its own, and it houses some the most powerful creatures in the world.

My readers may be wondering what Ishmael and an infamous white whale have to do with music? Well mostly my wandering mind is working tangentially, finding connections between the most random experiences. I can feel a connection between this enormous potential energy that has Ishmael so addicted to the sea and my personal addiction to music. I'm one of those people who can't sit still. I am a bouncy mess of nervous energy and curiosity, and I like to think that sea-travel would be somewhat comforting to me. I like to think that my mind would be calm as my body was rocked on the waves, that the ocean would center my spirit a little, and that my feet could stop tapping and I could cease fidgeting for a minute or two. This is how I feel when I listen to great music. It has a spiritually calming effect on me, and even though I'm often in motion when I'm listening, I never feel agitated or like I'm about to implode.

I think I'm lucky: many people never find that comfortable place and time where they are completely at ease. In "Loomings", Ishmael (Melville) speaks of the sea and sea-travel as his savior and the savior and temptress of all men. That deep bond between travel and meditation is the key in this story; it is only when men are in constant movement that their minds are truly at rest. Wanderlust happens to be my close companion too, often the shadow in my heart and mind that doesn't allow me to rest. But even when my skin is crawling with the need for absolute freedom and movement, and when my mind is filled with that intoxicating potential energy of adventure, I can find solace and peace in music. It is the constantly rocking ship that lulls me into a place of rest.

1 comment:

Sean said...

I thought Moby Dick was such a good book - that is if Herman had cut out the half of the book that he lifted from other whaling texts that went into way too much detail on the nuts and bolts of the whole affair. Give me the classic struggle - the clash of wills - the force vs. the dark side (sorry, wrong story), but please Herman, stop plagiarizing and stick to what you do best - painting characters with strong, well...character.