Jan 012012
 
Classics Illustrated Moby Dick

How I Got My English Major

Let’s get this started with an off-topic item. I include it only because my kids, who are big fans of the Bone comic book, are by extension, fascinated with Moby Dick. My son even went so far as to start reading it (at age 10). He didn’t get very far (18 pages!) and that’s ok, it’s a little above his reading level. After all, no less a literary icon than Ray Bradbury told me (and a room full of people at the Library of Congress) that he couldn’t comprehend, much less enjoy Moby Dick until he was 36.

I’m ok with them waiting to read it so I don’t have to explain this little passage in chapter 94.

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,- Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

It’s nice to see someone enjoying their work. Although I can’t help but think the other sailors were giving Ishmael a few worried glances.

Yes, yes, it mentions the word sperm a lot, this is not my point, they were hunting sperm whales. I was referring instead to Ishmael’s strange sort of insanity, which makes me think of a whacked-out hippy in a Roger Corman film. If this is what exposure to sperm oil (aka whale oil – seriously people, elevate the discourse) does to a person then I think we need to start hunting whales to extinction again and forcing certain bellicose individuals to squeeze! squeeze! squeeze!

Anyway, it’s a good book, much funnier than I remember (19th century comedy) and with some interesting action scenes. I’m thinking specifically about the time the indian harpooneer falls into the sperm case of a dead whale’s head and then the head breaks free of the ship and starts to sink. You just don’t see much of that these days.

But it would look great in 3D!

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