Moby Dick

So that overawed by the rumors and portents concerning him, not a few of the fishermen recalled, in reference to Moby Dick, the earlier days of the Sperm Whale fishery, when it was oftentimes hard to induce long practised Right whalemen to embark in the perils of this new and daring warfare; such men protesting that although other leviathans might be hopefully pursued, yet to chase and point lance at such an apparition as the Sperm Whale was not for mortal man. That to attempt it, would be inevitably to be torn into a quick eternity.

—Moby Dick

What can be said about the White Whale himself? Many learned voices have spoken on the matter, many learned minds have rested on the matter, so I will only attempt to give a pure description of the use of Moby Dick in the mechanics of this particular game system, and leave the rest to the angels.

There are five Moby Dick cards in the Sea deck, all of which contain only a quote from Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale. This chapter sits early on in the book, proceeding from Chapter 41: Moby Dick, both chapters serving to introduce and expostulate upon the great whale. The lack of graphical representation on these cards should be introduced several times before the eventual final encounter with the White Whale, as ‘sightings’ of him, before the agreed upon number of Chapters has been played. Melville takes great care to sow the seeds of his ultimate epiphanous encounter with the White Whale in many places early in the work; we endeavor to inspire those same foreboding feelings with a Moby Dick card drawn in the early game. Such provides a brief yet powerful driving hint—the voyage will end with this. And, perhaps, a deeper hint, that in the end of things, all representation, all appearance, will disappear and be discarded forever.

As for the encounter itself, nothing will be said other than it stands to reason—all through the game the power of choice, beneficent or destructive, is in the hands of the players, the roll is taken from the internal to the external world, but against a foe as great as Moby Dick—the grand symbol of all that’s unknown and unknowable in the tumultuous realm of what we only can feebly label as the infinite—that roll inverts itself and the external world forces out the feeble mortals, without so much as a sight of that hidden mechanism that Ahab seeks to expose. In this game, in Melville’s book, we are limited by the symbolic structures we employ. That deeper key to experience, will, and reality itself, is only ever hinted at, and never truly spoken. Perhaps in annihilation only can any conscious thing know better the hidden workings of reality; Ahab touches on this in Chapter 116: The Dying Whale.

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