Vanity Fea

Springs and Motives under Various Disguises

martes, 21 de enero de 2014

Springs and Motives under Various Disguises

The Book of the World, Life as Theatre, and the character's illusion of free will in Moby Dick—a philosophical novel with a whale of a stage, from Pythagoras to the War of Afghanistan. Notice that according to Melville our illusion of free will holds while we are in the midst of the action, of the play as it were—but when we turn it into a narrative, or retrospect, the cogs and wheels of Fate, or Circumstance, become apparent. In hindsight.
moby dick 2
Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the pure exercise and pure air of the fore-castle deck. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it. But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as as sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:


Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces—though I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment.

Hawthorne and Melville

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