In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hey guess what!

Here's a Melville quote sent my way by Jim Keller after I posted Waveweave, a close-up of a detail from a baby blanket:

"Through the lacings of the leaves, the great sun seemed a flying shuttle weaving the unwearied verdure. Oh, busy weaver! unseen weaver! – pause! – one word! – whither flows the fabric? what palace may it deck? wherefore all these ceaseless toilings? Speak, weaver! – stay thy hand! – but one single word with thee! Nay – the shuttle flies – the figures float from forth the loom; the freshet-rushing carpet for ever slides away. The weaver-god, he weaves; and by that weaving is he deafened, that he hears no mortal voice; and by that humming, we, too, who look on the loom are deafened; and only when we escape it shall we hear the thousand voices that speak through it. For even so it is in all material factories. The spoken words that are inaudible among the flying spindles; those same words are plainly heard without the walls, bursting from the opened casements. Thereby have villainies been detected. Ah, mortal! then, be heedful; for so, in all this din of the great world’s loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be overheard afar."

One can puzzle over why the sun through the leaves becomes the weaving metaphor in Moby-Dick, a novel dominated by tropes of the sea, given that wave and weave share an etymological basis, and that Melville also, like the Dogon people, associates weaving with loudness --it's true that both industrial and treadle-loom weaving make a lot of clacking noise, creakings, etc. –while the romanticized version of the needle arts is of placidity and serenity. Trust Melville to see social relations in even the movement of the sun... Yay Melville.


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