In Chapter 118, Ahab turns his tools of navigation into a greater metaphor for life. Smashing his quadrant, which uses the heavens to navigate, Ahab pledges to use instead his compass, and the log and line — tools that use the Earth to navigate. In a grand destructive gesture, Ahab turns his back on faith, and pledges himself to reason.
In “The Log and Line,” Ahab finds his reason in a state of disrepair, to say the least. Not having been used for some time, the line has laid idly exposed to the elements, and decayed significantly underneath an initial appearance of functionality. Ahab tries to use the log and line anyway, but the line snaps soon after the log hits the water. Ahab sullenly orders a repair of the line, and a new log, but the Manxman thinks the line is beyond repair, and needs to be replaced entirely.
Use it or lose it, Ahab!
Chapter 125: The Log and Line
Log and line
Hanging from the outside railing,
Idly warped by elemental ability,
And sometime heaved into the open open,
Held by rotten line
And towed behind the rush of ceaseless time.
Keep your grip on me
Until my captain reels me in
To be mended.
Life-line, life line!
How could you succeed?
Nothing left so torn could hope
To be mended.
High and low,
Daft with strength and daft with weakness,
Coupled yet by sweetness,
And never rent —
No such strength is heaven-sent! —
It lives beyond our briefness.
(c) and (p) 2010 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea July 18, 2010
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea December 29, 2010