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will not kill that petrel on my orders, but mark my words, if ye so much as hesitate at
darting after the fish when the moment is right, my cutlass will be thirsty for your
blood – aye, thirsty for anyone's blood who joins ye as well. Ye are bound by the
contract, 'tis true, by blood even, but more than that; ye are bound by my sword. My
cutlass has many chinks, and she will have many more before I go down to the mist.”
Chapter 30 – Asymptotic Freedom
The fish stayed on the horizon for two more days and nights, and Fishmael had no
sleep for all this time. He would stand by the foremast shrouds, looking out at his
nemesis as it bled into the hated Smug, these two symbols of light and life being one
in their antithesis to the tenebrous captain's deathly, black, bubonic loathing. At long
last the fish sounded, and so did the captain, muttering acerbic curses as he descended
into his own underworld beneath the quarterdeck.
If ever in this life you find yourself spending a lot of time below, so to speak,
think of Fishmael. He shuns the light, he fights against it, rages against it and
dedicates his life to extinguishing it; yet in all this fury, beneath the grime of his
iniquity, he himself becomes an albino – as white as snow, as white as starlight. Hunt
the thing you hate too much, and the hated thing becomes you; in the end, you will
hate yourself.
Fishmael has decided to stub his toe (in the process of kicking, but stub it
nonetheless) against the infinite, the ineffable. In what ways has Fishmael become
like the fish? Well, they are both now muses. Fishmael the hunter, fish the hunted.
Fishmael evil, fish good. Fishmael corruption, fish innocence. Fishmael hatred, fish
joy. They are polar opposites, granted, but they are alike as poles. Indeed, in the same
way that the asymptote could be said to be both infinitely positive and infinitely
negative at the same time, and neither, so could these two agents. Because, in fact,
there are not two asymptotes but one – the utmost positivity and the utmost negativity
are actually a singularity, where one is nothing without the other. So too Fishmael
would be nothing without the fish. And the fish nothing without Fishmael? Is this
really true? It is a painful thing to conceive, but is the fish completed by its aggressor?
All those billions of years ago, when the fish first swam, perhaps there was something
that followed it across space to its new home. Perhaps that thing was the essence of
Fishmael, conceived in the great mind of the universe from the start. And this dark
conception, made all the darker by the spark of free-will inside him, was not made to
hunt the fish, but chose to.
An Interlude - Mungo's Song From The Topmast
“If it is your job to kill,
Down amongst the mist and krill,
Weigh high your anchor,
Weigh conscience low,
And lift your thoughtless arm to throw.