I’ve taken a bit of a break from work to do the annual Rite of Taxes, but nonetheless progress is being made.
I’ve been slowly making adjustments to my first Moby Dick print, enlarging the figures in Ahab’s boat, taking down some of the texture in Moby Dick’s skin, and adding more highlights to the water. Here’s the latest proof:
Part of the inspiration for this print is the chapter where Ahab speaks to his crew about his true purpose, the hunting down of Moby Dick, and draws them into his mad passion.
All visible objects, men, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event — in the living act, the undoubted deed — there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But ’tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him.
I wanted to show Moby Dick as that wall, huge, intimidating, and yet not that malicious agent of evil Ahab believes him to be; rather, he is the blank screen upon which Ahab projects his anger.
And in the meantime, I’ve also charged ahead on my second Moby Dick print: Moby Dick breaching.
On the second day of the final hunt, the Pequod’s whaleboats see Moby Dick ahead of them:
And thus, through the serene tranquilities of the tropical sea, among waves whose hand-clappings were suspended by exceeding rapture, Moby Dick moved on… But soon the fore part of him rose slowly from the water; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch… and warningly waving his bannered flukes in the air, the great god revealed himself, sounded, and went out of sight.
The boats wait for Moby Dick to reveal himself again.
…Ahab could discover no sign in the sea. But suddenly as he peered down and down into its depths, he profoundly saw a white living spot no bigger than a white weasel, with wonderful celerity uprising, and magnifying as it rose, till it turned, and then there were plainly revealed two long crooked rows of white, glistening teeth, floating up from the undiscoverable bottom. It was Moby Dick’s open mouth and scrolled jaw; his vast, shadowed bulk still blending with the blue of the sea…
It’s difficult to convey the excitement of this chapter by selecting quotes; it’s a fast-paced tour de force of language and action, with words rolling and flashing like the very waves tossed by the breaching whale.
There are two more prints to come in this set. Stay tuned! And in the meantime, I’d suggest you read the book. It is the best. Ever.