Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cataract of Sand

Journal No. 11
English 48A

Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Herman Melville

I. "Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it?"

II. Herman Melville speaks of the desire of all human kind to seek out and to be near the water.

III. Melville writes in amazing detail about the agonizing relationship that he has with the sea and about the search for the connection with the sea that human kind is eternally conducting. The falls of Niagara are so vast and grand, yet they are "only water." What is it that draws us to their vistas? Would we truly be attracted to the same geographical location if there were but mere rivers and cataracts of sand? Melville asks the reader to search for their true feelings about the ocean. He is confident that everyone else has the sea in their souls, as well.

Melville's eloquent descriptions of the longing - no, obsession - to be near the sea lure the reader into a trance. As I read these pages, I felt as though Melville were speaking directly to me. I grew up in an ocean-side town and have never been able to shake away the need to smell the salt air and to hear the screeching of the gulls. The sounds of buoys and fog horns are just as familiar and comforting to me as the intake and exhalation of my own breath. The smell of the creosote covering the wooden pier pilings is as delightful to me as the feeling of the sand around my toes. The sea has imprisoned my soul and I can only escape it for brief moments in time. I am most unhappy when my warden sets me "free." Where else can I find the same happiness? I am best suited staying imprisoned, waiting for those brief reprieves in which I can keep as souveniers the sand stuck to my shoes and the salt crusted on to my bathing suit.

Doesn't everyone feel this way about the sea?


drscottie said...

20/20 Well in paragraph one of the book Ishmael asserts that all men do "share such fellings with me."