All the Better to Facepalm

29 Apr

We’ve had several Luther spottings on our classical journey.  There was that time we ran into him in the Slough of Despond, and then he and Pearl were kindred spirits according to some of the Bostonians.  But now, we’ve run across his good friend and fellow Reformer, Philipp Melancthon.

Ishmael really likes physiognomy, assessing character based on head shape, you remember the connection between Queequeg and President Washington, right?  Well, Melancthon apparently has something in common with both the Bard and the whales Melville so revered.

But in most creatures, nay in man himself, very often the brow is but a mere strip of alpine land lying along the snow line.  Few are the foreheads which like Shakspeare’s or Melancthon’s rise so high, and descend so low, that the eyes themselves seem clear, eternal, tideless mountain lakes; and all above them in the forehead’s wrinkles, you seem to track the antlered thoughts descending there to drink, as the Highland hunters track the snow prints of the deer.  But in the great Sperm Whale, this high and mighty god-like dignity inherent in the brow is so immensely amplified, that gazing on it, in that full front view, you feel the Diety and the dread powers more forcibly than in beholding any other object in living nature.


Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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8 responses to “All the Better to Facepalm

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    April 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Talk about similes and metaphors!

    • Christina Joy

      April 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      I’m not all that fond of my own rather large mountain lake, I like to keep the deer away by hiding it behind a good chunk of bangs.

      • Adriana @ Classical Quest

        May 1, 2012 at 6:40 am

        You are so funny.
        It is really too early for me to wake up my kids laughing!!

    • Adriana @ Classical Quest

      May 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      What I meant to express before was: Wow — talk about similes and metaphors — this post is a great example of them. (Keeping in mind Jeannette’s instruction to do so.) Instead, I think my comment came across as if I was commanding you to talk about similes and metaphors — which you had already done. Quite well actually.

      • Christina Joy

        May 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        I knew what you meant 🙂 But it made me go back and read the quote with that in mind, which brought deer lapping at the banks of my expansive lake, and sometimes I think that my forehead is a tourist trap and so I put up giant billboards of thought all over the internet.

        Help! I’m drowning in my own metaphorical lake!

  2. Sarah

    April 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Now I’ll always concentrate on Melancthon’s forehead whenever I see his portrait. 😉

    • Christina Joy

      April 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      I know – just imagine how big it might look if he would take his silly hat off.


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