Wednesday 29 August 2012

Call Me Ishmael

Recently I've taken to using art as a tool for the manifestation of the collective unconscious in a Jungian sense, and so as Moby Dick has been prodding me for over a year now since Hong Kong, for reasons I couldn't quite fathom, I set up an RSS feed and curated a mood stream of every new piece of original art being shared with the world on the topic, and supplemented that with bits of data plumbing Jedi Knightery, to see if I can compile an emerging narrative

The learning so far is unsettling and an anomaly in expressionistic terms when looking back at history. It seems one of the key themes is not just the death of Captain Ahab and crew, but the death of Whales. Spooky whales levitating above the sea as if drawn in a state of mourning; lamenting the transit to a marine afterlife.

And then I awoke up from a nap just now, and for the umpteenth time was reminded of the book by The Guardian who week in and week out out are echoing the questionably tinnitus driven peals, ringing in my head and then out of nowhere, I realised the part of Moby Dick I had been so eager to share when reading this unusually off-topic novel for me that I find hard to follow. I overcame the age and relative formality of its language through the time tested clamour of Bangkok Go-Go bars. I find the neon, noise and nubility more soothing than when left a difficult text, alone in the distracting silence of home.

In any case, I meant to write how extraordinary it was learning of the whaling business in its heyday with respect to being the precursor for the entire edifice of imminent planetary industrialisation. That is to say, built upon the global scale of a wind powered floating business, in singular pursuit of yet another of natures exclusive and historically irreplaceable organic yields. If asked it is for this reason I argue leaving the oil in the ground instead of fuelling jet engines in the air for an economy levitating on the hologram of endless financial growth. What if say quantum entangled oil is the spice melange of a future interstellar life? To me, the what-ifs are a full nelson on the what-the-fucks line of reason.

I'll leave you with Melville's passage that left a slow burning mark upon me with a lesson on gateway drugs of the monkeys (homo consumericus) obsession with whale oil that was only displaced  when the black stuff leaking from the ground, looked like it had something going for it. 

Why did the Dutch in De Witt's time have admirals of their whaling fleets? Why did Louis XVI of France, at his own personal expense, fit out whaling ships from Dunkirk, and politely invite to that town some score or two of families from our own island of Nantucket? Why did Britain between the years 1750 and 1788 pay to her whalemen in bounties upwards of L1,000,000? And lastly, how comes it that we whalemen of America now outnumber all the rest of the banded whalemen in the world; sail a navy of upwards of seven hundred vessels; manned by eighteen thousand men; yearly consuming 4,000,000 of dollars; the ships worth, at the time of sailing, $20,000,000! and every year importing into our harbors a well reaped harvest of $7,000,000. How comes all this, if there be not something puissant in whaling?