Friday, July 29, 2011

Phantom Pain

Look ye, carpenter, I dare say thou callest thyself a right good workmanlike workman, eh? Well, then, will it speak thoroughly well for thy work, if, when I come to mount this leg thou makest, I shall nevertheless feel another leg in the same identical place with it; that is, carpenter, my old lost leg; the flesh and blood one, I mean. Canst thou not drive that old Adam away?

I begin to understand somewhat now. Yes, I have heard something curious on that score, sir; how that a dismasted man never entirely loses the feeling of his old spar, but it will be still pricking him at times. May I humbly ask if it be really so, sir?

It is, man. Look, put thy live leg here in the place where mine once was; so, now, here is only one distinct leg to the eye, yet two to the soul. Where thou feelest tingling life; there, exactly there, there to a hair, do I. Is't a riddle?
~Herman Melville, Moby Dick. 1851

This seems to me at this moment an apropos description of the human heart, the grief of any loss, and the feeble desire to share the experience, or to have another take away the persistent suffering that such loss causes. 

1 comment:

  1. This is beautifully put, Vincenzo. It also explains why so many, unaware of their phantom leg (or heart) get confused between current and past lovers.