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  • From The Grand Armada

The Daily Dick: Musings from the Greatest Novel Ever

"But this occasional timidity is characteristic of almost all herding creatures. Witness, too, all human beings, how when herded together in the sheepfold of a theater's pit, they will, at the slightest alarm of fire, rush helter-skelter for the outlets, crowding, trampling, jamming, and remorselessly dashing each other to death. Best, therefore, withhold any amazement at the strangely gallied whales before us, for there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men."


Musing: Melville is perceptive! In this chapter, the boats have set out for a whale. Once they stab the first whale, the others in the group panic. Humans, according to Melville, are herding creatures too. And isn't he correct? When there is a disaster, aren't people often injured while being trampled? And aren't we supposed to be at the top of the food chain? I love these moments in Moby-Dick where the idea of humans being superior to anything living on earth is set in perspective.

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