Those Great Abiding Questions

That for six thousand years – and no one knows how many millions of ages before – the great whales should have been spouting all over the sea, and sprinkling and mistifying the gardens of the deep, as with so many sprinkling or mistifying pots; and that for some centuries back, thousands of hunters should have been close by the fountain of the whale, watching these sprinklings and spoutings – that all this should be, and yet, that down to this blessed minute (fifteen and a quarter minutes past one o’clock P. M. of this sixteenth day of December, A. D. 1851), it should still remain a problem, whether these spoutings are, after all, really water, or nothing but vapor – this is surely a noteworthy thing.

Moby Dick, Chapter lxxxv – The Fountain 

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2 comments on “Those Great Abiding Questions

  1. dmf says:

    great interview (well if you can ignore the pompous host) from January 11, 2011
    with Andrea Nightingale on Moby Dick:
    http://french-italian.stanford.edu/opinions/

    • efmooney says:

      Ah, Ms. Nightingale has that wonderful breakthrough book letting ‘theory’ be a way, for Plato and the ancients, of looking — a way of sauntering to the holy places to see the sights, the sites where people enact their souls in festivals of affirmation; so we can let ‘theory’ be central to philosophy because in Plato’s sense it’s traveling down to the Piraeus to see the festival, and of being attentive (and reflective) all the way down. So ‘theoria’ is a way of walking, of living, of talking, of seeing. Or a way of whaling and writing about the demonic-divine-natural spectacle of “Whale!”. And it’s all a philosophical matter! We even have Melville joking about how we can come to see our questions to be as “deep” as the difference between mist and the river.

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