Essay about Moby Dick: Subjective Space

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Moby Dick: Subjective Space

Oh! my God! what is this that shoots through me, and leaves me so deadly calm, yet expectant, ---fixed at the top of a shudder! Future things swim before me, as in empty outlines and skeletons; all the past is somehow grown dim. (Chap. 135: 463)

The sublime moment is the ultimate subsumption of the self. It is frightening in its intrinsic need to consume the experiencer and then emancipate him upon the consummation of the event. Melville composed a story that could have been filled with moments of the sublime and yet it is, frustratingly for the reader, almost entirely absent. However, this is not an indication of any fault in the text. Rather, it is the consequence of a meticulously planned physical and
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But it is not the specifics of the assumptions that matter, for Ishmael himself confuses and confounds his own characterizations of the Leviathan consistently. It is the fact that whatever whale imagery each reader might have initially brought with him to the text is supplanted by a catalogue of quotes whose blitzkrieg attack ensures a standard conception of the animal in the reader's mind before the novel even begins. Ishmael, with the Sub-Sub already forgotten, is our Librarian and Expert who asserts the truth of the tale (and the truth of the whale) as if it should go hand in hand with such things as the Report of Daniel Webster's Speech in the U.S. Senate, on the application for the Erection of a Breakwater at Nantucket. 1828. Ishmael's toasting of the Sub-Sub has the effect of nullifying all the work with which the "poor devil" is credited:

So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose commentator I am. Thou belongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe which no wine of this world will ever warm; and for whom Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong; but with whom one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-devilish, too; and grow convivial tears; and say to them bluntly, with full eyes and empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant sadness--Give it up, Sub-Subs! (Extracts: 2)

As benevolent master of the poor devil's work and commentator of his life, Ishmael commences

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