Thursday, January 31, 2008

impossibility of answers to any question whatsoever

"One of Melville's favorite devices is to argue a point effectively in one chapter, undercut it with an equally effective and opposite argument in the next, then to present other arguments at various points between. A related technique is his use of traditional systems for ordering knowledge - ostensibly to clarify, present information, or advance an argument - but actually as a means of demonstrating the limitations of the system and, by extension, the impossibility of mere earthly beings coming up with categorical answers to any question whatsoever. Ishmael's ability to exist within this limitation makes possible his salvation. Ahab's inability to do so destroys him."

Who2 Biography: Herman Melville

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