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For Hate’s Sake I Spit at Thee: Moby Dick

The name Moby Dick is a byword itself. So why am I offering up my experience after reading it five times in a row since winter? It has been rough. A rough time. And I’ve been breaking my mind to come up with a response. But I have none. Except that I feel as though if I don’t find a way to express this growing surge in my chest, well there will be some trouble, is all.

This will be the fourth blog post I’ve written or rewritten since I last posted. I haven’t been able to publish one.

So, I am just going to write through this writer’s block by writing about my recent experiences with Moby Dick.  It reminds me of when I read Homer and think: ooooo! This thing everyone has thought was so awesome that it has lasted 3,000 years is really great! Bravo me? I just caught up to basically literate in 800 B effn C and E. There really need be no award for that. You’re simply punished if you don’t. I dunno. Maybe it’s some kink of Greek thing.

First off, there’s Ishmael. Now this guy is easy to like. For one thing, he is a depressed school teacher, who refers to whaling as “his shot and ball.” So basically, “I don’t want to shoot myself, so I’ll go do this crazy thing that’s sure to kill me!” But then his gentlemanly acceptance of Queequeg as his sleeping companion, stating that it’s better to sleep “with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian” makes him seem amiable, worldly and thoughtful. And so he proves.

Then, Ahab. He is great and terrible. This wounded genius and twisted greatness. He uses his skill at leading men to convince a cross-section of the races and religions of the world to madly rush towards death for him. And gentle Starbuck. With neither just enough courage to kill Ahab nor just enough capacity to convince him to stop through love. And, yes, I love Stubb. Who doesn’t love the guy who sees the world coming to an end, and his first thought is to strip buck naked? Ishmael says Stubb would face death as just another order from above his rank to be followed. So, Stubb just follows orders.

Ah. And the way Ishmael explains everything! It’s beautiful. Trying to show off. But I love his meditations from the look outs. I love to follow his mind out ranging over the azure below to where it meets the azure above. It reminds me of being lulled to sleep by the song Breathe before every clock in the world wakes you up for Time. On Dark Side? You get relaxed into a lack of care, before suddenly reality rushes back on you.

Oh, and duh, Jess. But there really are two Ishmaels. One is the younger man in the story, and the narrator says this happened “nevermind how many” years ago. So, finally I realized, Oh! so this is why I can hear Ahab speaking to Starbuck in his quarters.

My other big bangs from my recent reading of Moby Dick are more pop culture. Well, for one, Gregory Peck is Ahab. He just is. I know that’s not a faithful rendition, but it’s John Ford? Houston? I don’t know. Ahab is Ahab is Gregory Peck. In the big stove pipe hat.

And my second pop big bang is Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. I realized that there is a coffin at the end of each. In Moby Dick, it’s QueeQueg’s coffin refitted as the life buoy that saves Ishmael. And in Khan it’s a photon torpedo outfitted as a coffin for Spock shot at the Genesis Planet where life renewed. Apart from Khan quoting Moby Dick the entire film, and having a copy in his bunker.

Oh yeah, and Jaws! Jaws is Moby Dick if Starbuck had lived or won. And the three day chase, the three whale boats, the three barrels. And both are a sequel for one character, so this time it’s personal. I love that movie. It has traumatized me for life though.

Not only am I glad that Ishmael gives us as much whaling information as we need to follow the action, but his  anatomical descriptions, particularly o fthe head. Because the head of this animal is like a monolith. Like THE Monolith from 2001. Unseeing, unfeeling, unstoppable, unknowable, with a jaw full of teeth attached to this monolithic front. It’s terrifying. And it’s white. The whiteness of the whale made a chapter name, why do you think the whale’s head is white?

Ha. I guess sometimes it’s just relaxing and easy to talk about a book because I could go on and on. What have you all been reading?

Comment and Like below! Trim topsails! Up anchor! Ten degrees to leeward laddies! Did I mention this book is both extensively brutal, with homosexual themes?

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Let’s Pretend

I lived.

I lived.

Let’s play pretend. OK. Let’s say this is who you are: You’re male. Mother died at say age seven, father soon after, perhaps ten. You were shipped off to a boy’s school with all the neglect, abuse and buggery that entails. You got on other boys’ good-side by doing their work for them. They all got A’s, but you neglected your own work. You attached yourself to a more forward boy. First in class, with your help. He’s a dick, but he protects you. Or at least he leaves you enough space to exist without the need to assert yourself too much. You can tolerate him, let’s say.

You graduate, you’re a professional. You and your school “friend” go off to finish your studies together. You pick up a strong habit of general laziness, debauchery and letting your buddy direct your life. He starts a business, you follow him into it. You’re his grunt, and his secret. He’s got the ego to push himself forward, you’ve got the brain to work out his professional problems for him. And you don’t care about credit. You get to continue your anonymous life, drifting. He gets to use you. You let yourself be used. You have no sense of deserving anything else. Anything better.

You stay up all night. You drink. You keep bad company. By your late twenties, you’re a person of wasted talent with no idea of how to turn the life that repulses your soul around. And if you did know how, you don’t even know if it’s worth the effort. You’re life is already a waste, to you, a “might have been.”

So let’s say something turns you around. Of course, it’s a girl. A perfect girl. A female so far above you, so ideal in your mind that you’ve turned her into a “goddess” that you worship, but of whom you’d never be worthy. So you hang out in her presence, around her among others. You don’t speak to her too much. But you’re there.

So, obviously, a woman so perfect would get a lot of attention right? And there HE is. And fuck him, but he’s so perfect. He’s just got to be for her. Not you, right? So why not make sure? You finally go to her and speak to her. You tell her you love her. All the words rush out in a torrent. But she doesn’t stop you. She’s even encouraging. And then, you do what you have to, you spell every microscopic, disgusting detail of yourself. You lay a perfect picture before her eyes of the ruin you would make of her life if she chose to be with you. Surprise! She agrees. But she’ll never betray your trust in opening up to her, and wants to save you (you of all people!).  So you simply promise that she will save, just by letting you do anything for her or the people she loves.

So, having spent a few minutes with this guy, what do you think? How do you feel about him? What sort of person is he? What sort of future does a man like this have? What sort of future does he see himself as having?

Most importantly, what if he actually got his chance. What if he (you) did have the opportunity to save her and her loved ones by making one great sacrifice — this life you hate. And what if that sacrifice not only completely failed, she died in the process. Everyone died but you. You lived — were, in fact, saved…what would you do? How would you feel?

Thoughts? Feelings? Please play with me?


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