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Moby Dick: A Timeless Story About Life and Fish

May 9, 2008

Sooooo, we’re not sure what “the arts” is gonna make of the recent COLOSSAL squid discovery, but it’s all kudos around the Vowel Movers’ office for the discipline of scientific photography. Let the evening news make of this discovery what it will, for these photos only do two things to us:

1. creep us out and fascinate us in equally powerful and alternating currents

2. remind us of classic american literature.

Enter book of all books, the title most likely to induce a snicker and blush at any age, literally hundreds of pages of writing about fishing: MOBY DICK. We often wonder if Melville labored over the addition of an exclamation point, turning the front cover from a somber affair about whaling (Moby Dick), to a coming of age musical romp (Moby Dick!). The record of arts and letters is silent on this matter, tho, one only need read Shakespeare’s use of “most” (i.e. most lamentable, most unjust) to realize the wonders of creative re-use. Suddenly Lear’s Edmund sounds like a Bill & Ted throwback. Genius, father time!

And it is in this spirit that we couldn’t help but recall Melville’s curious character of Queequeg when perusing the giant squid photos. In he chapter entitled STUBB KILLS A WHALE, Melville describes the crew’s discovery of a squid–one of the few punctuations of action to be found between the long, detailed chapters on the whaling life and its accoutrement.

If to Starbuck the apparition of the Squid was a thing of portents, to Queequeg it was quite a different object.

“When you see him ‘quid”, said the savage, honing his harpoon in the bow of his hoisted boat, “then you quick see him ‘parm whale.”

Q’s implication at the relationship between the squid and the whale is interesting, given that the COLOSSAL squid weighs in at 1/2 ton herself; how large could the whale made to eat such an animal possibly be?

We rather feel like an invisible Ishmael now, having floated along for such a time without incident, without the apparition of a whale on the horizon. Taken as a whole, Moby Dick makes a curious turning point directly at the discovery of the squid; all the wheels begin turning, inperceptibly toward what is arguably the best, most terrifying ending for any piece of literature. Which begs the question: are we also about to meet our white whale? (not in a metaphorical-love way, but like intellectually and stuff)

Note that now that our lives have been divided into BS and AS–before squid, after squid. We’re waiting…


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