"How vain and foolish, then, thought I, for timid untraveled man to try to comprehend aright this wondrous whale, by merely pouring over his dead attenuated skeleton, stretched in this peaceful wood. No. Only in the heart of quickest perils; only when within the eddyings of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded sea, can the fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out."
Musing: I love this passage in light of our virtual preferences and the plethora of travel shows on television. It is one thing to see an image and quite another to touch-smell-taste a thing. Ishmael says, at the start of Moby Dick, that he never goes to sea as a passenger because "passengers get sea-sick - grow quarrelsome - don't sleep of nights - do not enjoy themselves much, as a general thing." If Moby Dick is a metaphor for anything, it is this - don't be a passenger in this ship called life. Experience the back streets, the hunt, the fear. Only then will you truly know a whale.