Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

In this the first of three chapters Ishmael dedicates to provide his readers a true account of whales, Ishmael sets himself the task of discounting the many canonically inaccurate accounts of whales most embraced by landsmen (i.e., the world at large). Besides the obvious benefits of whitewashing the canvas before painting a picture, so to speak, Ishmael hopes to establish a few things. First, most people don’t believe in the monstrosity of whales because past observers have given only perverted or exaggerated, and therefore unbelievable, accounts of whales. Second, understanding comes from experience, and as such is a dangerous undertaking. Third, blue paint does not an ocean make. In other words, there is a life to all things that needs to inhabit any account of anything for that account to be true.

Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

Science could never relate
(With a partial view of the animal state)
A true description of whales,
That would speak itself to our animal fate,

Neither the stories of old,
Predetermined by man,
Prior to Noah, alone,
Floating over the sand.

Show me Platonian form,
And I’ll show you one who has yet to have sworn
Blessings for each of the crew
In the eye of fear, in the mouth of the storm.

Give out an animal wail
In its terrible face;
And draw it, as bravery pales
To indifference.

Give out an animal wail!
Give out an animal wail!
Give out an animal wail!

Fault can only be laid
When a man assumes all experience stale,
Lifeless, and easy to rate,
‘Til the distance makes his illusion the same.

Lay out the soul of your soul,
A majestic array,
Tuned to the palpable, flawed
Imbrication of days!

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea July 16, 2009
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea May 1, 2010

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