Pip

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

 

 

Shipmates say I have lost my mind 

I pay them back with insults in kind 

Resplendent with the immersion 

Of my soul 

Of my soul 

 

Cast away in the boundless sea 

Many miles from the nearest lee 

All alone on the ocean 

Falling fast 

I’m falling into the indifference 

Falling fast

I’m falling into the abyss 

 

Taken down to a wondrous place 

A multitude of the coral race 

All creation before me 

Before my eyes 

I’m falling into the indifference 

Before my eyes 

I’m falling into the abyss 

 

 

The majesty of colossal orbs 

Falling upward into the stars 

Immersed am I in this vision 

Am I mad? 

I’m falling into the indifference 

Am I mad? 

I’m falling into the abyss 

Man’s insanity is heaven’s sense 

 

Since that time I have been alone 

Sharing this with no one on board 

The only one who consoles me 

Is the madman 

I’m falling into the indifference 

Is the madman 

I’m falling into the abyss 

Man’s insanity is heaven’s sense 

 

music and lyrics © 2010 by Tony Garone 

Produced by Anthony Garone and William Brown

recorded at Cow Pilot Studios (AZ)

 

Tony Garone - vocals, keyboards and drum loops

Anthony Garone Jr. - electric guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion 

 

 

What is this song about? 

 

When one of the oarsmen sprained his hand, Pip, the cabin boy, was called to take his place on the smaller whaling boat. When a whale broad-sided the boat and nearly overturned it, Pip jumped into the ocean. Traditionally, when in pursuit of a whale, every second is crucial and as a result Pip was left behind to be rescued later. 

 

Finding himself alone on the ocean, Pip slipped into its depths where he had an extraordinary vision (excerpt from Chapter 93 - "The Castaway"): 

 

"The sea had leeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God." 

 

After being rescued Pip exhibited strange behavior because the vision literally overwhelmed him to the point that he lost his identity. Later he spoke of his experience to the crew and was labeled a madman. The only person who showed compassion was Ahab. Pip had seen the inner workings of the cosmos and was literally transformed by his vision. He saw the many perspectives of God represented by the myriad colors of coral under the ocean.

 

Pip, unlike Ahab, was innocence defined and demanded nothing of the universe. He was labeled a coward in this world, and a hero in the world beyond (see quote below). This made me ask myself some pointed questions. Could it be because he demanded nothing he was shown everything? Are the workings of the universe revealed to the innocent and pure of heart? 

 

Pip was a hero - not because of anything he did, but because he lost his identity in lieu of the vision of the greatest truth - which is what many have done in the past. The self is denied when faced with universal truths. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” 

 

Pip was shown the most profound of these truths. In Chapter 27, “Knights and Squires”, Melville describes him in an interesting manner. There’s something in this description that reminds me of the Hindu deity, Shiva - who beats his drum (damaru), as Pip beats his tambourine. The beating of the damaru produced the first sound in the void of nothingness and its pulse set up a rhythm to which Shiva began his dance of creation. From his dance, the world came into being: 

“Poor Alabama boy! On the grim Pequod's forecastle, ye shall ere long see him, beating his tambourine; prelusive of the eternal time, when sent for, to the great quarter-deck on high, he was bid strike in with angels, and beat his tambourine in glory; called a coward here, hailed a hero there!”