Moby Dick

I used to think that Moby Dick  was a failure when I was first reading it years ago (in part anticipating the ridicule I would encounter for doing so) because while Ahab had spent his life (and monomania) pursuing the whale, and whaling was such a big part of the 19th century, here in the 20th & 21st century we had made both the mammal and industry practically extinct with such dispatch the tale seemed ludicrous, or, worse, merely an adventurous tale, like the earlier novels Melville enjoyed so much success with. Now I realize this was inevitable and thus both would have little meaning because we never have learned from the past (esp. in this country).  Yet there is a huge bit of irony at work here as we have replaced it with a monomania of a much larger scale (pun intended) in pursuing another type of oil, destroying the planet with our unquenchable thirst for fossil fuel (mainly composed of the bones of  leviathans of another sort), a universal monomania that will inevitably destroy all mankind instead of the one man who went down with the Pequod. Thus our plight is now that of Moby Dick writ large, making it even more relevant today, an occurrence Melville could have not foreseen. Or could he?

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2 thoughts on “Moby Dick”

  1. I read this on my own, too, a million years ago. Coulda lived without all the biological digressions, which would’ve shortened the read by a few hours. But yeah, I see your point about being applicable today, especially with the conservation stuff I do. That’s us, dragged to our deaths by the very creatures we are hell bent on extinguishing. Phew, that was a fun read, now that I think about it.

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