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35 The Whale

hexagram-35-whale‘YOU’VE WEATHERED HOMESICKNESS, madness, pirates, scrimshaw, hellfire sermons.
Time to drift placidly beside the pensioned leviathan.’

Incomparable mammals are losing themselves in the opacities of the
blue-green llanos, the killing fields of contraptions not yet invented. A
fascinated boy has nowhere to go, nowhere to start – unless he’s lucky
enough to have a whaling father, a benign one with a vision, inspiring tall
tales of the deep, broadcasting the seeds of his dynasty upon the waters.

1st – The Whale Skeleton
A Gothic ribcage is the medieval godhead’s masterpiece – unlike the
human bone legacy collapsing on bequeathment. The fan vaulting is
stupendous: connoisseurs are awestruck, while their children swing on
the lower jaw. Yet the smallest vertebrae could be pilfered for marbles.

2nd – The Whale Museum
The crystal dome of the deep attracts thousands excited by the glazing
– no ship-in-a-bottle subterfuge is possible with pickled flesh. Imperfect
panes that catch blue sky simulate convincing waves. The glaziers keep
their distance – all but one, who carves a harpooned heart under a fin.

3rd – The Pilot Whales
Reverse lemmings, one by one they strand themselves. Perhaps the first
was sick, making for the shallows to avoid drowning; or else some solar
or sonic anomaly jammed oceanic meridians. Go down the beach to
them. Lever them side by side – the final consolation of fellowship.

4th – The Whale and Its Predators
Graceful matings in those endless dark vistas of space. The myth of the
gentle giant: slowness and vast bulk, since there’d be nothing to escape
were it not for harpoon history, the hungry pequods and the mechanised
digestion of an industry afloat, the ego pitching camp on the common.

5th – The Whale of the Body Politic
Leviathan aspires to be a parliament, jaws on the surface propped open
by statutes. Citizens electrify a benign animal passivity – prefiguring the
giant Gulliver striding through Lincoln’s streets closed to traffic, bringing
the populace together in a carnival of misrule, a vaccine against anarchy.

6th – The Watchmaker’s Whale
The surgeon was nowhere to be seen: the ships were lashed together, one
captain seeking salves, or even surgery, for a harpoon wound. His watch
was oiled by a fine, delicate fluid from the jaws of a bottle-nosed dolphin.
But accidents happen. And memory can be unreliable, so far from land.

All six – The Musical Whale
In the calving grounds the humpback hangs upside-down as if on a
butcher’s hook, from its tail-fin anchor, voicing recycled air without
vocal chords. His moans, growls and shrieks, caught with a hydrophone
listening for submarines, breaks as a sonic tide on West Coast ashrams.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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