Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Mincer" by Dan Beachy-Quick


A Writing Parable

To write, a writer needs paper and light. Paper, too, can be burned for light. Form is also fuel. The whalers are in the business of light. To make light they make oil. They burn the oil from the blanket-pieces of blubber they unscroll from the whale. The thinner the blubber is cut, the more oil extracted. The mincer is the man who cuts the blubber. The crew shouts to him as he does so, "Bible leaves! Bible leaves!" so he remains mindful of the thinness desired. To light pages he makes pages. These pages might both be holy. He dresses in black. The raiment in which he cuts the whale comes from the whale—the skin removed from the phallus of the whale being burned. He dresses in creation to destroy.

Source of the text - Dan Beachy-Quick, A Whaler's Dictionary.  Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2008, p. 177.

Bourguignomicon: Circular poem: cut whale blubber pagethin to extract oil to make light so Melville can write about whalers hunting to get blubber for oil...

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