Melville in detail: “the livery of nakedness”



Source of the illustration: “View of Honolulu. No. 1. From the Harbor.” Sketched by Paul Emmert, lithographed by G. H. Burgess. San Francisco: Britton & Rey, 1854. Library of Congress,¬†http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003681551/. Photoshopped.

Sforzando e tremolando

In the drugstore, somebody’s bar code set off an alarm. “We have activated our inventory control,” a recorded voice announced. “Please return to your cashier.”

“Inventory control? Sounds like mind control,” said a voice behind me. The man speaking was middle-aged, white, dressed in Hawaii casual (T-shirt, shorts) but wearing a perhaps age-inappropriate trucker cap and backpack. The neighborhood was Honolulu’s Hawaii Kai: a little bit of southern California transplanted to Polynesia in the 1950s by the visionary businessman Henry J. Kaiser, and as of 2013 the district of the only Republican in the Hawaii state senate. The man had asked his question and mused about its association accordingly: at the volume at which ordinary indoor conversation is conducted in a middle-class neighborhood.

But suddenly his voice went sforzando e tremolando, and in the vocal equivalent of a Tim Burton font he cried,

Near him no one could be seen.

But the spirit of Fox News must have been in the air, hovering over Hawaii Kai with an invisible smile.