The Tranquility of the Ocean. On Melville’s Philosophy of Participation
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: The Tranquility of the Ocean. On Melville’s Philosophy of Participation
: Paweł Jędrzejko
Abstract : Herman Melville’s ubi sunt is a result of a life-long evolution of his mode of participation in the world. The writer’s childhood was marked with the trauma of loss and deprivation. The landmark of his early adulthood, unsurprisingly, was the writer’s “quarrel with God.” The years of his maturity came to be dominated by his resolution of “becoming annihilated.” Eventually, his old age produced the masterpiece of problematic, though possible, reconciliation both with the inevitable annihilation/annulment of self in the silence of being, and with the limitedness of the human “universe.” The ethical treaty of Billy Budd, Sailor, ending with / originating in its “dangerous supplement” of “Billy in the Darbies,” crowns one of the most powerful intellectual propositions of the American 19th century: Herman Melville’s sea-tried philosophy of participation, or, more precisely, his existentialism ofï¿½ imagination. The discourse that moved him towards Billy Budd through Clarel’s mysticism on the one hand and the deification of the Ocean on the other, is a compound of “meditation and water.” Inextricably combined in Melville, they have become a paradoxical “existing essence”—the philosophical formula that ultimately offered the philosopher peace of his ever-seeking mind. Like John Marr, also old Melville—“healed of his hurt” (in icted upon him both by Angel Art and by the traumatic experiences of his long life) “lauds the inhuman sea.” Melvillean Ocean epitomizes being, while the experience of the Ocean epitomizes existence. Having experienced thevast liquidity of the inhuman sea, nally comfortable with their new faith, both John Marr and Herman Melville indulge in Oceanic reveries: they nostalgically revive their memories of the young years spent in the Pacific, and find peace of mind embracing its non-discursive lull.
: Herman Melville, Existentialism, Philosophy of Participation, Old Age, Adagio, Theodicy
||Department of American and Canadian Studies of the Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland|
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