Monday, February 11, 2019

Hands deep in whale spoof

I'm still wading through Moby Dick, reading it in bursts on my iPhone. I recently got through a chapter about the narrator's experience at de-lumping spermaceti, the oil taken from the whale's head.

Of course he shortens spermaceti to sperm and there are many passages of how much he enjoys being up to his arms in the stuff and how pleasant a task of squeezing the lumps it is.

The name of the chapter is "A Squeeze of the Hand".

An excerpt:

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,—Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. 

I am not so old as to find that deeply hilarious.

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