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Ishmael places God at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of crew and terrors that they face—”what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!” he exclaims.  [Chapter XXIV]

Of true courage, he declares that one who is fearless of terrors, whether of nature or of the supernatural, is no different than a coward:  “the most reliable and useful courage [is] that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril . . . an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.”  [Chapter XXVI]

On the equality of dignity, Ishmael states:  “Thou shall see it shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike; that democratic dignity which, on all hands, radiates without end from God, Himself!  The great God absolute!  The centre and circumference of all democracy!  His omnipresence, our divine equality!”  What powerful words from Melville!  The crew, even though separated by hierarchy of duties is equal in the eyes of God.  [Chapter XXVI]

Ishmael expands that even those perceived as inferior or even imbecilic at times rise above intellectuals:  “be a man’s intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available supremacy over other men . . . those men who become famous more through their infinite inferiority to the choice hidden handful of the Divine Inert, than through their undoubted superiority over the dead level of the mass . . . in some royal instances even to idiot imbecility they have imparted potency.”  Again, what powerful words!  [Chapter XXXIII]

Ishmael once more peers upward to beautifully describe those who man the mast-heads:  “to a dreamy meditative man it is delightful.  There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, string along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea, even as ships once sailed between the boots of the famous Colossus at old Rhodes.  There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves.  The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor . . . a sublime uneventfulness invests you; you hear no news; read no gazettes; extras with startling accounts of commonplaces never delude you into unnecessary excitements; you hear of no domestic afflictions; bankrupt securities; fall of stocks; are never troubled with the thought of what you shall have for dinner—for all your meals for three years and more are snugly stowed in casks, and your bill of fare is immutable . . . as the soul is glued inside of its fleshly tabernacle, and cannot freely move about in it, nor even more out of it, without running great risk of perishing . . . so a watch-coat is not so much of a house as it is a mere envelope, or additional skin encasing you.”  [Chapter XXXV]

Melville creates vivid pictures of this floating-island democracy of men, tossed about on his “mystic ocean” that surrounds them and keeps them on the watch at all times.

[illustration from: https://uk.pinterest.com/lakoutrine/illustrations-moby-dick/V%5D

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