Meadows’ note on Itinerant Men (Krupskaya Press, 2004):
If the 19 th century is a contradiction of free social experiment and slavery, revolution and charisma, rational enquiry and racist construction, what happens when whalemen repress the impulse to mutiny?
This long portion from Deborah Meadows’ serial poem “The Theory of Subjectivity in Moby-Dick,” Itinerant Men is a reading-through of Melville's novel combining chance operation and philosophical investigations.
In an early chapter, Melville’s Father Mapple re-told the story of Jonah as a problem of 19 th century sovereignty: “… And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.”
Now “under weigh,” are Itinerant Men free to recast self and world by rejecting bogus authority? When has “self” ever been the reliable stick-and-stone at the barricades?
Or, might a negated self, the “writer” portray “this new instance/ whether errors of an eye,/ man glowing with the remains of an ideal” that is “not as fearful as the dignity of divine/ or spiritual terror/ not as tragic as the undoing of goodness/ in our Starbuck.”
Or, in line with Rabelais, can excess counteract the pull of compelling language that inspires one to ends greater than the dollar? Is value a scale under erasure? Language a cobbled beast?
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