2005-03-23 - 2:01 p.m.
There isn't much I can say about the whale book that hasn't been said before, except that it is a great Buddhist novel that demonstrates how attachment and aversion, while seemingly opposite, are the same thing, and both will kill you. But of course, we all need to take that journey, to see it first hand, before the lesson is learned.
The backdrop of the terrifying, placid, merciful, beautiful, life-giving, life-taking ocean makes it all the more emphatic. I believe that the ocean is God's mind, and the ship is where God's mind and the human mind interact. Characters like Starbuck and Queequeg (the "purplish savage") are better able to integrate the spiritual truths they've learned from the ocean, while Ahab, in the clutch of his fear and attachment, is not able to.
And that whale? I don't think he's Jesus, like a lot of folks seem to. I think he represents The Breast. Ahab suffers, like we all do, from the "mother wound"--separation anxiety. And his grief and rage causes him to substitute the whale for the breast, because he has not been able to make more prosocial substitutions like this, or this or this.
And if you haven't done so, wish John Sharples a happy birthday.
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