Ahab

Artwork “Ahab” © by George Klauba  -   www.georgeklauba.com

 

 

Scars of white lightning traverse his face 

A thundering countenance reveals his burden 

His whale bone leg ; his dark embrace 

Of unresolved madness; his burning question. 

 

Whale of the deep and boundless sea 

You who have traversed the seen and unseen 

White as the bone you have taken from me 

Brute of the ocean or God of the sea? 

 

On the main quarterdeck he stood and he glared 

Like some bronze statue of those who dared 

to question intent of the Universe 

Indifferent or malicious - of this we are cursed! 

 

Whale of the deep and the boundless sea 

Tell us the secret that resides in thee 

Hiding behind the great waves of the sea 

I strike through the mask to reveal all to me! 

 

Tossing his pipe into the sea 

The final link to his Earthly pleasure 

Mild white vapors into the night 

And with them Ahab’s serenity. 

 

Whale of the deep and boundless sea 

You who have traversed the seen and unseen 

White as the flesh you have taken from me 

Brute of the ocean or God of the sea? 

 

Over the bulwarks he cried out to me 

“What do ye do when ye see a whale, men?” 

A sickening chorus responds to his plea 

I find myself saying “Go after him!” 

 

music and lyrics © 2010 by Tony Garone with text excerpts from "Moby Dick"

Produced by Anthony Garone and William Brown

recorded at Cow Pilot Studios (AZ) and First Wave Digital (NY)

 

Tony Garone - vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards

William Brown - electric thunder guitar, keyboards

Anthony Garone - acoustic guitars, bass guitar, additional percussion

Scott Harris - keyboards

Johnny Monkey - bass guitar  

Casey Carney - Drums and Percussion

 

What is this song about? 

 

This song describes Ahab’s physical characteristics, his intent, and tormented soul. On a previous journey, Moby Dick bit off Ahab's leg, "as a mower does a blade of grass." Ahab projected all of his rage concerning this event onto the white whale: 

 

"Hark ye yet again- the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, 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 though 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." - Chapter 36 The Quarter-Deck 

 

But there was more to Ahab's rage than this. He hated the very thing the whale embodied. Was Moby Dick the “dumb brute” as reverent Starbuck perceived him, or a vengeful, menacing creature? Was the devastating act of Ahab losing his leg a random event or planned by a higher intelligence? If so, it would appear to Ahab that God was either indifferent and the loss of his leg was an unplanned and unfortunate event, or God had some form of malevolent intent. 

 

Does the universe have a purpose for us or is our existence and the events that comprise it completely random? 

 

Ahab wanted clarity and control - he wanted answers - he wanted to "strike through the mask." Does the universe have meaning? Is there intelligence behind the Universe or is it akin to a dumb brute? Is there a God? is there something in it for Ahab? For suggestions  to these questions read, “The Heart of Moby Dick.”

 

Ultimately, Ahab was unable to accept meaninglessness. He looked for a final purpose insisting that he was recognized by the universe as being important. 

 

Unable to enjoy the basic pleasures of life, Ahab left his wife, children and eventually abandoned the simple pleasure of his pipe. He was obsessed with Moby Dick. All meaning was gone. The essence of monotheism, which focuses on a single-minded ideology, loses the meaning of the many: 

 

“And now that at the proper time and place, after so long and wide a preliminary cruise, Ahab,- all other whaling waters swept- seemed to have chased his foe into an oceanfold, to slay him the more securely there; now, that he found himself hard by the very latitude and longitude where his tormenting wound had been inflicted; now that a vessel had been spoken which on the very day preceding had actually encountered Moby Dick;- and now that all his successive meetings with various ships contrastingly concurred to show the demoniac indifference with which the white whale tore his hunters, whether sinning or sinned against; now it was that there lurked a something in the old man's eyes, which it was hardly sufferable for feeble souls to see.”