Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Kind of Lostness

In response to a question about what being an American was like for him at the end of the 20th century, he told the online magazine Salon in 1996 that there was something sad about it, but not as a reaction to the news or current events.

“It’s more like a stomach-level sadness,” he said. “I see it in myself and my friends in different ways. It manifests itself as a kind of lostness.”

Wallace may have foreshadowed his own death in a 2005 speech to students at Kenyon College that spoke of the struggle with the mind.

“Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth,” he said.

“It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.

[ source ]

"Hark ye yet again- the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event- in the living act, the undoubted deed- there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike though the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who's over me? Truth hath no confines. Take off thine eye! more intolerable than fiends' glarings is a doltish stare! So, so; thou reddenest and palest; my heat has melted thee to anger-glow. But look ye, Starbuck, what is said in heat, that thing unsays itself. There are men from whom warm words are small indignity. I meant not to incense thee. Let it go. Look! see yonder Turkish cheeks of spotted tawn- living, breathing pictures painted by the sun. The Pagan leopards- the unrecking and unworshipping things, that live; and seek, and give no reasons for the torrid life they feel! The crew, man, the crew! Are they not one and all with Ahab, in this matter of the whale? See Stubb! he laughs! See yonder Chilian! he snorts to think of it. Stand up amid the general hurricane, thy one tost sapling cannot, Starbuck! And what is it? Reckon it. 'Tis but to help strike a fin; no wondrous feat for Starbuck. What is it more? From this one poor hunt, then, the best lance out of all Nantucket, surely he will not hang back, when every foremast-hand has clutched a whetstone. Ah! constrainings seize thee; I see! the billow lifts thee! Speak, but speak!- Aye, aye! thy silence, then, that voices thee. (Aside) Something shot from my dilated nostrils, he has inhaled it in his lungs. Starbuck now is mine; cannot oppose me now, without rebellion."

"God keep me!- keep us all!" murmured Starbuck, lowly.

A new white humpback has been sighted off Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia.

The newcomer, which was filmed by a television news helicopter, has excited marine scientists who think it may be related to Migaloo - to date, the only known all-white humpback whale.

Migaloo is somewhat of a celebrity down under. Why? "Because as far as we know, he is globally unique," said Professor Peter Harrison from the Whale Research Centre, Southern Cross University.

It now seems that Migaloo, (whose Aboriginal name means "white fellow") might have competition.

Although predominantly white, the new whale does have some black markings near its head and tail. So who is the newcomer?

A white calf was spotted with a normal humpback mother in Byron Bay two years ago. Experts say the new whale could be the offspring of Migaloo but further tests need to be carried out.

A record number of humpbacks have been spotted off the Australian coast this year on their annual migration north to their breeding grounds.

One thing scientists do agree on is that this second white whale has never been seen in these waters before.

[ Thanks to J.G. ]