Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All That and a Bag of Ships

I just finished re-reading MOBY DICK, and it was just SOOOO much stranger than I remembered! There were scenes of dreamy beauty, scenes of inner contemplation that would make a psychologist hope for a two-for-one sale on notebooks and pens, scenes of wacky humor, scenes of intense action and chapters of factual...er...facts. The title character didn't even show up until the last few chapters, but he did dominate the whole book.

MOBY DICK has the reputation of being the most boring book ever written, but I don't find it so. It's way too loony for that. Of course, I love all the kinds of writing in it, and I love the unique way Melville chose to write the book. It's as if Ishmael (the narrator) loses his narrator persona when he becomes a part of Ahab's crew. He still puts in some personal bits, but he's much more distanced, as if he's less real than the characters directly involved in the drama.

When the first whale is killed on the voyage, the second mate orders a steak to be cut for him from the tail, and he eats it, though he complains that it isn't tough enough. Guess what Moby Dick whacks his boat with. Go on--guess.

The White Whale also does his own share of chomping, and he doesn't seem to think anything he crushes in those gigantic jaws is particularly tough, either.

It strikes me as so very weird that there's a fast food seafood chain called Moby Dick. Like--Did the people who named it never read the book or what?

I'll tell you who DID read the book: The guy who started Starbucks Coffee. Mr. Starbuck was the first mate under Ahab, and one of four I was rooting for to make it through the voyage alive. (The other three were Ishmael, Pip and Queequeg.) The guy who started the coffee shop apparently liked him, too, because that's why he named his place Starbucks.

Which reminds me that Moby Dick was based on a real huge and aggressive white whale named...are you ready for this?...Mocha Dick. He was most often spotted around the island of Mocha, so the whalemen called him Mocha Dick.

Well, I think that's probably about enough random information for one post. Thanks for listening.

MA

1 comment:

Dana Fredsti said...

I have never read Moby Dick. I haven't even seen the movie. But yet I recognize the names and know the plot. I'll have to give it a try!