Still Listening to Moby Dick

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”

POSTSCRIPT

Happy 2017! Most of 2016 was spent listening to … and thinking about #MobyDick. There are 24 posts plus a few interludes that correspond to each hour of listening. Yes, you heard that right – 24 hours. This great American novel can probably be described pretty simply. Glory. Self-Absorption. Madness. Revenge. Destruction. Nonetheless, I suggest that you read on, because an examination of our most human flaws still matter today. Probably that’s why it’s our most human of flaws.

HOUR 1

After numerous failed attempts at finish reading #MobyDick, I am switching tactics and am now listening to it instead. Thanks to the Miami-Dade Public Library for the loan. Ishmael has finally checked in to a New Bedford inn with his potentially cannibalistic bedmate, but has yet to have woken up for breakfast ….No whale in sight    Only 23 hours to go.

HOUR 2

Hour 2 of Moby Dick on my morning commute. Walking the winter of New Bedford in his bearskin coat, he finds a town filled with harponeers, cannibals and women who, though pretty, are not as beautiful as the women of Salem. He fills the morning pondering tales of mortality and redemption at sea….. #StillListening. 22 hours to go  

 

 

HOUR 3

Hour 3 of Moby Dick. Ishmael has determined he can have a pagan friend, deciding that the tattoos and markings of a cannibal cannot hide Queequeg’s soul. Ishmael tells us he clove to his new companion like a barnacle until his long last dive. Foreshadowing perhaps? Until who’s last dive? Ishmael’s? Queequeg’s?

They sail together towards a whaler’s promised land, Nantucket. When a whaler launches from these sandy shores he will surely become the stuff of legends as he seeks the “Himmalehan, salt-sea, Mastodon.”

Chowder for breakfast, chowder for dinner, and chowder for supper. It is New England after all. Still no whale in sight…. #StillListening   21 hours to go.

 

HOUR 4

Hour 4 of Moby Dick. Finally! Captain Ahab and his missing leg are mentioned! Don’t get too excited. They are just mentioned, not actually seen. It happened as Ishmael chats up the ship’s pilots to take him aboard as crew no matter his inexperience. He wants to see the world after all, but not without his new companion. It takes some doing to convince Bildad and Peleg that his obviously Ramadan-observing friend should simply be re-classified as a prayerful Presbyterian. Common sense reigns, as a pretend Presbyterian who is a skilled harpooner will prove more vital to the voyage than a real Christian who can’t kill a whale.

There’s no sign of either Captain Ahab nor his good leg, but their absence looms like a dark cloud over the mighty vessel Pequod. “A noble craft, but somehow with a touch of melancholy.” He ignores the warnings for he is drunk on the oil of expectation. I certainly wouldn’t have crossed that gangplank with my whaling trunk after the creeping Elijah followed me through the dark Nantucket streets with tales of the sinister secrets held in the soul of the cracked & wild Ahab. “Did ye see anything looking like men going towards that ship?”

No sign of a whale  . #StillListening on the Miami Trolley.  20 hours to go.

 

HOUR 5

Hour 5 of #MobyDick – Anchor up. Sails set. Away. The Pequod’s journey begins on a short, cold, not very merry Christmas day. After skillfully piloting out the port, Bildad and Peleg disembark towards Nantucket with the promise to have a “hot supper smoking” when the Pequod returns 3 years hence. Yes, you heard that right – three years! Who knew a whaling voyage would take so long? Finally facing the sea, the Pequod “ blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic.” That doesn’t sound promising.

Now Ishmael proceeds to spend several chapters justifying the dignity of the whaling profession. Don’t be confused by your own misperceptions. It’s not mere butchery. Whaling is imperial for the English have declared the whale a royal fish. It is celestial as the constellation Cetus shines down from the southern skies. It is royal because the hair of kings must be cleansed with whale oil before their coronations.

The men on the Pequod are nearly all Islanders, Isolatoes as Ishmael calls them. Shunning continental life except when offshore where the keel of the Pequod forms their “common continent,” we are introduced to three isolates, the momentous mates – Starbuck, Stubb and Flask – and their harponeers. I don’t remember much about these characters BECAUSE at exactly 4:56:56 Captain Ahab makes his entrance upon the quarter-deck with his ivory leg and a white scar tracing down his face like the roots of a tree. Branded by birth or incident, we do not know. But it sure doesn’t look good, does it? #StillListening19 hours to go.  

 

HOUR 6

Hour 6 of #MobyDick. No wonder no one every finishes reading this book. First there’s a review of all the scientific evidence that proves a whale is not a fish, but then Melville declares a whale IS a fish anyway. I guess the “mammal doubters” of the whaling days were much like the climate change doubters of today. Then there is one whole hour describing every possible kind of whale that exists down to the color of their eyes and the wrinkles on their brows. Can you believe that the iPhone has given us only one emoticon to describe these leviathons?

Melville must be rolling over in his grave at this gross over simplification. These are the chapters when it’s good to be #StillListening on your Miami-Dade Public Library System audiobook so that you can multi-task while enjoying a recital of whale characteristics. I’m busy transforming the fruits of my urban garden into homemade pesto sauce. Hope the noisy whirl of the food processor doesn’t block out a crucial species of whale! #StillListening18 hours to go.  

 

 

DANGEROUS PERSONAL INTERLUDE

First time in my life this has happened …. I swallowed a fish bone at lunch. Seemed ominously connected to the fact that I am listening to #MobyDick. A white whale drives Captain Ahab on a seaborne death march. Now a grilled salmon bone is after me …. Should I stop listening?

HOUR 7

I’ve survived eating the fish bone so I’m back with Hr 7 of #MobyDick. Speaking of eating… Mr. Flank is at the Captain’s table for dinner. He’s been promoted, Third Mate, and earned seat at King Ahab’s brooding silent dinner table. But it’s not much of a promotion because the Third Mate actually eats fourth. First Ahab, then Starbuck, then Stubb, and, if there’s time, poor Mr. Flank – the butterless man. There’s no time to butter the bread if he wants to eat any meat. When Ahab’s done eating, Flank is too. So there’s no time to waste or he’ll waste away. Butter be da*#@!*mned. This is one of those times when you’d prefer to be at the harpooneer’s table. Lots, lively, loud, and spicy! It’s not specifically mentioned, but I bet it was Mexican food. Viva! #StillListening No whales in sight.     17 hours to go.

HOUR 8

Hour 8 of #MobyDick. Now is the time you would definitely jump ship if aboard the Pequod because Ahab finally reveals the voyage’s true mission. He has commandeered the ship for a 3-year mission of revenge. “Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw.” I don’t think I’d know a crooked whale jaw from a straight one, but I’m not so good at bird identification either. For Ahab, it is easy. He remembers, and he will avenge his missing leg. He names the enemy and that name is Moby Dick. Yep, that’s right, I’ve had to listen for 8 HOURS before hearing the title character is mentioned. Geez Melville, that’s a long time.

Wine...

Mr. Melville does pack this hour with excitement because Captain Ahab also sets forth a prophecy that he will dismember his dismemberer. (An eye for an eye; a tail for a leg?) I don’t know about you, but I don’t think you can set your own prophecy. Don’t you need someone like Moses to do it for you? Sounds like madness to me. It sounded like madness to the crew. “To be enraged with a dumb thing seems blasphemous.” Seems like a good reminder that we should probably forgive others their wrongs rather than pursue the cause of retribution to the ends of the earth. I bet a lot of the crew wish they’d brought a life jacket along. They didn’t. They spend the night drinking instead. Sounds like advice I can follow. Don’t be mad. Have a glass of wine.  Make peace. Not war. No whales in sight.    #StillListening 16 hours to go

 

HOUR 9

Hour 9 of #MobyDick is when Ishmael tells us why he fears Ahab’s whale. It’s the whiteness of the whale that worries him the most. Whiteness is tricky because it is beautiful, like a pearl. It is innocent like a bride, benign like old age, but he says “there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.” Like a circling polar bear or a floating iceberg on the Antarctic sea, whiteness pulses signals of incoming peril. He feels the dread. Ishmael is certain that the two white faces of innocence and wickedness are forever separated in a colorless void.

Does that mean Moby Dick is immortal? Did he begin as an innocent? If an immortal white whale is left to live a natural life, existing pure and untouched by the evil of man, will the whale live innocently? What happens when the good turns its face to see the wicked? Can good things become evil? Will they seek revenge for being turned? That’s when your leg is snapped off I guess. Melville is pretty clear about that. No whales in sight. But I’m beginning to get worried. #StillListening. 15 hours to go.   

 

HOUR 10

There she blows! Finally, a whale. Hour 10 of #MobyDick. The three momentous mates launch the whaleboats. Rowers pull. Harpooneers look out. Whales spout. Tales flash. But, wait. What do they see when they should be looking out for whales (and an incoming storm)? Captain Ahab has left the Pequod to launch his own whaleboat, a boat driven by mysterious yellow rowers who seem to possess supernatural strength and who are Ahab’s alone. Yep, he’s left the helm to prove that when the moment of truth comes he will out-row his crew to exact his revenge on the white whale. It is not enough to have the whale killed. He must be the one to do it. Revenge is sweet. It’s also nuts. Our beloved Ishmael and his cannibal friend Queequeg are nearly lost in the storm. Don’t worry. They are rescued. Of course they are – there is still 14 hours of listening left. Melville wouldn’t kill them off now. This isn’t Game of Thrones after all. The story’s narrator should stay alive until the end, don’t you think? After Ishmael is hoisted aboard to safety from the swirling sea, he rewrites his will. Good idea. #StillListening. 14 hours to go.   

HOUR 11

Hour 11 of #MobyDick. What’s up with all the talk of albatrosses and goneys and Peru? #StillListening 13 hours to go.

 

HOUR 12

It’s Hour 12 of #MobyDick. We are told that pretty much all paintings and dioramas of whales and whaling ships are crap. There are some French engravings that don’t suck as much as the rest, but don’t waste your time looking at any of them. If you want to know what a whale looks like, get on a whaling ship and look at one. If you want to know what it feels like to kill a whale, don’t look at a painting, get on a whaling ship and go kill one. P.S. They see a giant squid – a WHITE one – which everyone deems a very bad omen. #StillListening #HalfWayDone Only12 hours to go!   

 

HOUR 13

No automatic alt text available.We have to address a lot of line-related issues in Hour 13 of #MobyDick. Do you want to use hemp rope with tar or Manila rope? Hemp is durable, but not as beautiful as Manila rope. Do you roll it in one tub (like the British) or two like everyone else? We are cautioned that it can’t be too fat or it’ll take up the whole boat, but it has to be strong. After all, it’s got to bring in a whale and whales weigh a lot. I actually thought that was pretty obvious and there was no need to mention it. What I didn’t know is that the line snakes through each small whaling boat ready to connect the men directly to the fighting whale as soon as that line hits its prey, wrapping them in its loops. “All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.” The oil business is perilous. #StillListening 11 hours to go!

HOUR 14

We finally catch a whale in Hour 14 of #MobyDick. It’s pretty exhausting killing a whale so they just bring it back to the Pequod and let the sharks snack on it all night. Since he did the hard work of bursting the whale’s bloody heart himself, Stubb does sneak some fresh meat into the galley. Oh goody! There are whale steaks for dinner. They are not up to par because our trusty chef Fleece doesn’t know how to cook a whale steak to order. We know that there are definitely real live cannibals aboard the Pequod, but Melville suggests that we are all potentially cannibals. If Stubb can sit down to an evening meal, eating a “creature by the light of its own oil,” what won’t he do? What won’t we do?

The next morning is pretty gruesome. They peel away the whale’s ”blanket-piece” blubber one slice at a time like you might peel an orange. Hauling it aboard is a delicate balance as the crew equalizes the weight of the ship with the weight of the whale. Now here’s where it gets creepy. Before the carcass can be released to its watery grave, Captain Ahab stares directly into the face of the whale demanding to be told the secrets it knows. The crew thinks this is a bit daft. The whale is dead. Even when it was alive, I doubt it spoke English. Is Ahab actually Dr. Doolittle? It’s not that simple. He doesn’t just talk to the whales. He hears them and I bet they hear him. Finally set loose, the monster’s “red tide” leaves a ghostlike trail behind the ship that leads directly to where the secrets lie. #StillListening 10 hours to go.

HOUR 15

Whaling, Wynwood Style.

Hour 15 of #MobyDick. If you think a certain candidate’s speech and crass behavior is disgusting, I suggest you turn off CNN and listen to this hour of#MobyDick for some revolting news from the Pequod instead. Melville gives us a detailed tour inside the head of a dead whale. Somehow I missed the fact that when they released the whale’s body to the sea they kept the head dangling from the bow. For that is where the treasure lies and it takes time to unlock it. The tour is a firsthand one because men must actually dive inside the head to uncover the oily treasure. Men like Tashtengo climb deep into a hole bored into that great head to pass the oil above bucket-by-bucket. When angered, that head is a deadly battering ram that only the craftiest of whalers survive. When captured, it is a vessel that houses the precious spermaceti oil that men steal to light the world. #StillListening. 9 hours to go. P.S. Don’t forget to vote for someone who would help us light the world with more clean energy. .  

HOUR 16

Hour 16 of #MobyDick. We’re sailing about harpooning whales, but without much luck. We haven’t reeled one in for quite some time. So Ishmael just talks about other stuff. Does he really think this will make us stop wondering just where in the heck is that white whale? We’re 16 hours and 2+ years into this voyage with no sightings. Instead we learn that we cannot see a whale’s face because a whale has no face. Instead we must see and understand Ahab’s monster through its “sprinkling” spout and tail. Like a muscular statue of Hercules bursting with strength from cool, smooth marble, the whale’s fluke shows that “real strength never impairs beauty or harmony.” Strong and dangerous, it can kill a man and sink a ship. Alas, a whale must breathe to stay alive, and in this staying alive, he puts his life at risk. “For the whale’s rising exposes him to all the fatal hazards of the chase.”

Ishmael also hypothesizes that St. George didn’t kill a dragon. He really killed a whale. Preposterous. Dragons are real! He also demeans elephants. Ridiculous. Elephants are awesome! I don’t know why whales, dragons, and elephants can’t all be respected equally. #StillListening. 8 hours to go.  

HOUR 17

Hour 17 of listening to #MobyDick. The mighty Ahab, whose own thirst is quenched by sipping a glass of sweet revenge, refuses to stop to restock the Pequod’s supplies in the straits of Malacca. They push through to a sea filled with herds of whales. Yes, you heard that properly. Herds! In this neck of the woods, there is no lone sperm whale for easy hunting. Here it is as if “numerous nations of them had sworn solemn league and covenant for mutual assistance and protection.” The crew harpoons a few whales, but gallies them as a result. (Cut to National Spelling Bee broadcast on ESPN2. “Definition please.” “Excessively frighten.” “That would be gally. G-a-l-l-y” “Correct.”) The herd rises up to surround the plucky Pequod men. They float in the sleek satin-like center of a circle looped by a “living wall” of crazed creatures, trapped in that “enchanted calm that lurks at the heart of every commotion.” I felt quite the same when I accidentally wandered into a Christmas store today and found myself surrounded by very Ahab-looking Santas. I was happy to escape with my sanity just as were the men of the Pequod. #StillListening. Only 7 hours to go.  

HOUR 18

It’s Hour 18 of #MobyDick. Just what happens when the men of the Pequod give tiresome chase to harpoon the great Sperm whale, but due to chance or storms that whale escapes? Can another whaling ship catch this weakened creature? This is where the law comes in. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it even it is connected merely by a “strand of cobweb.” A Loose-Fish is up for grabs. If you lose the connection too bad for you. AsIshmael tells us, “like an abandoned lady she can be harpooned by another.”

Image may contain: sky and natureWhen raiding each other’s closets, my sister & I used to say that possession is 9/10 of the law. Ishmael assures us that possession is the whole of the law. Just as slaves and serfs were Fast-Fish, Ireland too was a Fast-Fish. But don’t be so sure that Fast is forever. Looseness can occur at a moment’s notice like America in 1492 or Poland to the tsar or Greece to Turks. We are now living in a country where our Fast values have been Loosed. Thanks Melville for giving me the words to describe how we feel in a world where our liberties have been separated from universal humanness. “What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish?” #StillListening. Only 6 hours to go. Where oh where is the white whale?   

HOUR 19

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Credit: ArtBasel artist Antonio Sannino

I know. You have been desperately waiting for more #Moby Dick. Art Basel was a bit of a distraction, but I’m back and listening! We get some sage advice in Hour 19 of Moby Dick. “Never jump from a boat.” But young Pip jumps anyway. The first time he is rescued and able to receive Stubb’s counsel. The second time, Stubb chooses to kill a whale rather than save poor Pip. Ishmael covers for their cruelty by believing that Pip did not so completely drown, but floated down to “wondrous depths” to live in a whole new place, a forever primal world that extends beneath the earth. I’m not buying it. We all know that the allure of an azure sea can seem a siren on a hot day. Stay clearheaded unless you want an intense confrontation with self in the open sea. Stubb knows what he is talking about. Stay aboard. #StillListening. Only 5 hours to go. .  

HOUR 20

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Toes are scarce in the blubber room

You are probably dying to take a tour of the #MobyDick blubber room. Ishmael is happy to oblige in Hour 20. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that the blubber room is pretty gross, and Ishmael feels compelled to describe every gory detail of the bits, pieces, and styles of blubber we will encounter there. He also can’t resist touching nor tasting it all. Chunks called white-horse. Purplish globs of plum pudding. And something so ominous looking it’s called slobgollion. As he spends the day handling it (literally), he imagines that the men who cut this blubber are “angels in paradise, each with his hands in a jar of spermaceti.” Yuck. So much for my idyllic images of angels and paradise. The blubber room’s thin slices feed the thick flames of the try-works on deck. It is there that “the whale supplies his own fuel and burns by his own body.” In the darkness of that night, the ship loses its identity. Searing red with fire and black with smoke, the ship is transformed into a burning leviathan, its own monster at sea. No longer in the reverie of angels, Ishmael’s dreams turn to disorienting nightmares.

To sooth himself perhaps, Ishmael assures us that we will never exterminate the whale. Although the spear of men massacred the buffalo, he has hope for the whale for the elephants have survived the kings of Asia and Hannibal. Poor Melville could not have known how tenuous the lives of elephants seem to us today. He assures us that we will not see the days when the whale “smokes his last pipe” because he is immortal in his species even if he is not as an individual. I don’t believe it because morning will dawn on the Pequod with a new call of “there she blows.” And Ahab will chase on. #StillListening. Only 4 hours to go. .  

A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MY MOM

My mother would not approve of Captain Ahab’s manners midway through Hour 20 of #MobyDick. No friendly smile. No polite wave. No greeting. Simply a shout of “Hast seen the white whale?” Showcasing his culture’s manners, the English captain gives Ahab a polite wave, but it is the wave of a whale bone attached where his arm once swung. Yes he has seen that whale, and that whale has taken his arm. The monomaniac Ahab, sure he’s found his soul mate, stands ready to shake limp whale bone leg to whale bone arm. The Englishman has seen Moby Dick two more times, but let him swim unchased, content to walk away without an arm because he has the other. Ahab steers forward towards his rival on his one lone leg caring not for his remaining limbs. Too bad Mom wasn’t aboard the Pequod to give Captain Ahab a talking to.#NoWayToGreetaSailor #StillListening. No whale in sight. 4 hours to go  

HOUR 21

First things first in Hour 21 of #MobyDick. I misled you. Pip is not dead. Miraculously he was rescued, but in that rescuing he has gone insane. We meet him beating his tambourine over a newly fashioned coffin. Inside lies the dying savage Queequeg waiting to float away to the “starry archipelagoes.” Not to be outdone by Pip’s watery resurrection, Queegueq suddenly raises himself. He has changed his mind about dying. “If a man made up his mind to live, mere sickness could not kill him: nothing but a whale, or a gale, or some violent, ungovernable, unintelligent destroyer of that sort.” The problem with his logic is that all of those things could happen on the cursed Pequod. He keeps his coffin, but clones himself on it, carving his own pagan tattoos onto that coffin to send their hidden messages to unknown gods.

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As Queequeg and Pip begin their lives anew, Ahab forges his instrument of death. Crafting the hot metal into the harpoon that will meet the white whale, he fashions three barbs. He tempers the White Whale’s barbs with blood pricked from the “heathen flesh” of his three harpooners. He abandons the gods to summon the demons. “Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli.” Ahab swears two pledges that he shall slay Moby Dick and survive it. “Take another pledge, old man,” said his stowaway Parsee. “I am immortal.”

Armed with his devil’s sword, they sail into fresh days of summer accompanied by the azure beauty of the sea. No whale in sight. #StillListening. 3 hours to go.

Get ready for more great Moby Dick movies made with the help of my brother, sister, mom, niece and nephew! Dad may help, but will most likely just look on with disdain. #StillListening. No whale in sight. 3 hours to go  

HOUR 22

So much for the metaphor of the calm before the storm. We’ve got an actual storm coming in during Hour 22 of #MobyDick. A great typhoon pushes a violent rolling sea and flashing sky. Ahab’s whaling boat is stove by the storm. Stubb sings to keep his spirits up. Starbuck faces into the wind, a gale blown by Moby Dick. He knows they are running towards blackness and away from life. As if on cue, lightening strikes. The three masts alight like spermaceti candles. Under the light of the white flames, Ahab burns with ecstatic rapture. The devil he summoned has arrived to prepare the way. “My fiery father. I leap up with thee. I burn with thee.”

“Let faith oust fact. Let fancy oust memory.” Even sturdy Starbuck is beginning to understand that Ahab’s revenge-driven strategy will kill them all. He looks at Ahab sleeping fretfully and imagines the ease with which his musket could put the captain “aside.” He cannot find a lawful way to stop the blistering madness of their fiery leader. “Is heaven a murderer when lightening strikes?” He walks away leaving Ahab to his tortured dreams, clutching the white whale’s heart. Another good footman leaves a mad king to reign. #StillListening. 2 hours to go.

HOUR 23

Ahah! We learn that Captain Ahab has a personal life in Hour 23 of #MobyDick. It is the heartbroken captain of the vessel Rachel who tells us that Captain Ahab is a dad with an actual wife and son. The Rachel’s captain implores old Ahab to lend the mighty Pequod’s assistance to find his lost son, cast adrift in a battle with the white whale. He pleads as father to father. Does Ahab give in? Of course not. He had long ago orphaned that son to adopt vengeance in his stead. The lost son will drown. Ahab sails on caring not that his indifference means the Pequod floats upon a tomb.

But wait, a tear. Yes Starbuck sees it fall. Ahab can feel something other than revenge. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Starbuck to try to convince the Captain to behave like a human being. Let us go home to our wives, our children, our beloved Nantucket. With temptations of a comfortable life and the peace of land, he quietly hopes Ahab will turn away from their deadly path. Starbuck knows he has lost. Ahab dries his tear. “Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm?” He is ready for the final battle. #StillListening. 1 hour to go.

HOUR 23:31:39

There she blows. Finally. I have been listening to #MobyDick for 23 hours, 31 minutes, and 39 seconds. The excitement begins. Ahab raised the white whale. In return, Moby Dick raises his wrinkled brow, deeply marked with furrows wrought year after year with thoughts of his own survival. Open-jawed, he bites Ahab’s boat in half. As a cat might toy with a mouse, he circles, watching an old lame man floundering after being spilled into the sea. When Ahab is finally pulled to safety, white brine has filled his wrinkled brow. Who is the whale? Who is the hunter? The Pequod is ordered to follow the spout, its spray an irresistible lure. Round 1 goes to the Whale. #TheEndIsinSight. #StillListening.  Less than one hour to go!

HOUR 24

Happy 2017. It’s a new year and the end of #MobyDick for me. Thanks for hanging in with me for all 24 hours of the audiobook.

Here’s the last post. It’s a long one. If you don’t feel like reading, you can just watch the movie.

Everyone finally got some sleep because it turns out you can’t see a whale at night. Night turns to day in the last hour of #MobyDick when the white whale reveals himself in a dazzling breach that launches all his bodily might towards the heavens and sends the sea splashing like diamonds in the morning sun. “Thy hour and thy harpoon are at hand,” mutters Ahab as the white whale fearlessly turns to face the mad captain. Three boats fasten three irons into his back that morning, but the great white whale swims and dives in madcap fashion, twisting those lines into an ever-tightening noose. Yep, you guessed it. They are forced to cut the harpoons loose to save themselves. Moby Dick gets away. Flask floats. Stubb looks to be ladled up. The Captain is dragged aboard, but his whalebone leg is snapped in two. Ever the optimist, Ahab makes sure we know that no “living” bone of his was harmed by the fish. But, I still think that Round 2 goes to the Whale.

By lunchtime on the third day, Ahab knows it is he who is being chased. That sounds bad. The whale is behind them. When the whaleboats are launched, the sharks follow only one – Ahab’s. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that this is a bad sign too. Just so you know, there’s been a lot of talk of coffins and hearses over the past few hours. That sounds like a bad omen as well. When I’ve been sailing, we tend to avoid those sorts of conversation and talk about things like how I’d like my gin and tonic in a tall glass with a squeeze of lime.

So it came as no real surprise to me that when Moby Dick surfaces, he has become a hearse. He carries the Pequod’s lost Parsee on his back, tangled in the lost harpoon lines. Just as Ahab is beginning to realize the horror of his lost companion, he has something even bigger to worry about. Moby is headed right for the Pequod and, you guessed it, smashes it to bits. It is a salty death for the crew as they are carried below in their nautical hearse.

You would think Ahab would finally come to his senses, but “Ahab is forever Ahab.” He believes he is “fate’s Lieutenant” and acts under orders. Blind to the fact that he is a man with the free will to choose to do the right thing, to choose the future over the past, to turn the other cheek, to see his crew as human beings, he throws his harpoon. Moby Dick dives. The line snaps and in that snapping twists a noose over Ahab’s neck. Lashed to his fate, he is dragged to the bottom. Round 3 goes to the whale. “The voyage is up.” And I am #DoneListening to #MobyDick

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