Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea captains may order me about – however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way – either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.
And so I have begun to wade into Moby Dick for the first time. This quote is from the first chapter where Ishmael frames his calling to the sea. It reminded me, even if tangentially, of an image I saw driving home today. – 10 C can be biting with a wind chill here in Winnipeg. In that wind I saw a man scouring a patch of frozen pavement for usable cigarette butts. A pathetic image, but not an image of laziness. A shameful image of addiction but only because of this addiction’s object. Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that. The sentiment reminds me of the fine line of how little separates a certain subjective drive between an impoverished addict searching for a fix and a wealthy addict looking to increase on abundance. You will not escape the universal thump there will always be a larger hammer than the one you are able to wield. Those larger hammers will likely always create circumstances which will determine a level of external comfort our addictions will afford us.
How does Ishmael’s knowledge and acceptance of this reality play out? I’ll keep you posted.