Morning Read:
‘Corrupt as Lima’


¶ What to make of Chapter 54 of Moby-Dick? “The Town-Ho’s Story” (what an unfortunate title, given &c &c), while long enough to be a short story on its own, is hardly an independent episode; after all, it’s the title character’s first major appearance. Ishmael relates a backstory, as it were, to his adventure on the Pequod, and frames it doubly as a narrative. First, it was told to his shipmates on the Pequod during a “gam” with sailors from the Town-Ho, another whaler. Second, it is told to us as Ishmael claims to have told it to acquaintances in Lima, after the action recounted in the novel itself. The elaborate framing seems to be nothing more than just that — a bit of tarting-up.

What bores these sailors must have been on land! But the Dons of Lima give as good as they get, at least as rendered in Melville’s ridiculously starchy translated Spanish. In a “witty” gloss of Ishmael’s bracketing of the Erie Canal and Venice as equally corrupt, a Peruvian interrupts Ishmael with the following bolt of fustian:

“A moment! Pardon!” cried another of the company. “In the name of all us Limeese, I but desire to express to you, sir sailor, that we have by no means overlooked your delicacy in not substituting present Lima for distant Venice in your corrupt comparison. Oh! do not bow and look surprised, you know the proverb all along this coast — ‘Corrupt as Lima.’ It but bears out your saying, too; churches more plentiful than billiard-tables, and forever open — and ‘Corrupt as Lima.’ So, too Venice; I have been there; the holy city of the blessed evangelist, St Mark! — St Dominic, purge it! Your cup! Thanks: here I refill, now, you poor out again.”

It’s a bit rich.

One Response to “Morning Read:
‘Corrupt as Lima’”

  1. Jaya says:

    I found that my thoughts are too much which is a bairrer for my life. I consulted allopathy doctors, no help. Then i attended courses from the these gurus. My life changed. My mental freq came down. I understood that all(vivekanda,ramkris,ramanar,vallalar, .) saints say one thing in common. GOD IS IN YOU in the form of uyir. goal of life is to realize self. The bairrer is our mind/ego and karma. My ego and mind are so strong to stop progress in life. To break out this in this life i understood that i need to meet many saints. I don’t simply dont goto a saint. I read their books and hear speech. If i like i’ll go otherwise NO. All the places i went brought huge changes. I feel more compassionate on people.Money is needed for service. If govt functions properly they would have concentrated only in devotion. Don’t see only negative news about baba.See what he has done to society, we have to learn from it. Other than saintsno one can this kind of free service. All money are donated by his followers. There are many problems in Tamil nadu.1. No proper rain, we beg for water from other states2. No govt hospitals are functioning properly3. Many People are behind TASMAC.4. We became slave for cinema/TV.5. We dont have proper TV channel to bring valid news.6. Political system is totally unethical7. We don’t have awareness about our own body mind health.8. Education/hospital became business.What we have done to overcome this. Can you as single person can do this?We cant do this even if we have 1 lak crore. Because we don’t have compassion.We have to learn compassion from all our saints. Unless compassion we cant do any kind of SERVICE to society.