30 Day Book Challenge: Day Twenty-three

Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished): Moby-Dick – Herman Melville

Oh the shame! In my previous entry, I alluded to the fact that English students are adept at speaking of books they haven’t actually read, and I am guilty on this one. In my defense, I have read kids’ versions of Moby-Dick (abridged, illustrated, etc.) and I’ve seen the film version starring Patrick Stewert. I’ve also read parts of the novel out of curiosity. However, I have never tackled the thing cover to cover.

I really admire Melville’s masterpiece. Whenever people ask me my opinion on it, I tell them it’s one of my favorite stories, not novels per se. And it is a great story. The colossal, white whale as a symbol of nature’s (or God’s) vitality is an indelible archetype in western culture. Moreover, there’s the destructively obsessive Ahab. I love how the book condemns anthropomorphism, as Ahab constantly projects human characteristics onto Moby-Dick. As Schelling points out, only humans have the potential for good and evil, so it is Ahab who is truly evil, not the whale.

(I would also like to take a moment and vent my frustrations on the other side of this anthropomorphic coin: assigning goodness or innocence to an animal. As a Newfoundlander, every year I endure animal rights “activists” decrying the seal hunt as we “barbarians” are killing these innocent little creatures. A debate over whether or not we should kill animals is legitimate, however, I can’t stand it when this type of sophistry is used. Animals are neither guilty or innocent, nor can they have “rights.” They have no concept of morality or good and evil. That doesn’t exclude the need to treat them with respect, but I refuse to accept them as equals. I love dogs, I own one presently and have owned others throughout my life, but if some psycho made me choose between my dog’s life and some stranger’s, I’d shoot my dog myself. Anyone who doesn’t agree is sick and subhuman.The same goes with comparing a slaughter house to the Holocaust. PETA is a disgusting organization and they make me want to puke. Where were Greenpeace, PETA, and the WWF when Newfoundland fishermen tried to defend the cod from overfishing? Where are they now when we’re trying to preserve the caribou in Labrador? Out exploiting money from the gullible masses, that’s where. Just research how much of their donations actually go into programs vs. administration. PHEW. OK. I’ll step down from my soapbox now.)

The book is actually one of my Dad’s favorites. It was his idea to get me to read the kids’ version and we used to watch the movie together. Sometimes we would make-believe that we were on the Pequod, and we’d take turns playing our favorite character, Queequeg.

I don’t really have much else to say about Moby-Dick as I haven’t read it. I do intend to pick it up in the near future, and perhaps I’ll give it a proper entry, along with One Hundred Years of Solitude.



p.s. I’m also a big fan of Mastodon and their album “Leviathan,” a concept album based on Moby-Dick

~ by braddunne on August 24, 2011.

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