Friday, July 8, 2011

Weaving spiders, come not here ii

The figure occupies a well-worn shirt, bespeaking a familiar, easy comfort he cherishes; a hue, assigned, he absorbs without objection. But his features mark him out for mis-adventure, unexpected: his glance belies a wish he hasn't seen fulfilled, an oversight he thinks should not go on. This is a studio pose by an expensively paid professional, which makes us easy in our protest for his sake. Yet we own an agitation against a falsity that arrests him. This is pretty nervy picturewriting. Guests, escaping trades and guilds whose following frames the mind, may take heart in the sensible motto of the Bohemian Club, and visit as often as they like. 

There's something very Melvillian in a man's resort to a club, which the founders of Bohemia understood very well. Sometimes more honoured in the breach than not, the motto is a sound one for our Ishmael. Immune from care on steep old Taylor Street, his lyric for that gathering, speaks of a true place no proud man ever knew.

We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free and easy were we; when at last .. what little nappishness remained in us altogether departed, and we felt like getting up again, though day-break was yet some way down the future.

For 170 years, weaving spiders of taxonomy have been confounded by an implacable masterpiece that everyone under-stands. The fault of the disturbance is not in its imagery, but in showing that the marking of a man will simply never hold. We accept this as the inheritance of all persons ever born; and we have seen, that while it is only with their diverse demand that we are entitled to approach it, it is also the only way to understand it. 

Herman Melville
Moby-Dick, or
  The Whale, Chapter 11
Volume Six, The Writings
  of Herman Melville
Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker
  and G. Thomas Tanselle, editors
Northwestern University Press and
  The Newberry Press, 1988©

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Between Men
  English Literature and
  Male Homosocial Desire
  Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and
  Columbia University Press, 1985©
Epistemology of the Closet
  University of California Press, 
  A Centennial Book, 1990©

i  Jan Siegmund

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