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  • From The Chase - First Day

The Daily Dick: Musings From the Greatest Novel Ever

"Omen? omen?-the dictionary! If the gods think to speak outright to man, they will honorably speak outright; not shake their heads, and give an old wives' darkling hint.-Begone! Ye two are the opposite poles of one thing; Starbuck is Stubb reversed, and Stubb is Starbuck; and ye two are all mankind; and Ahab stands alone among the millions of the peopled earth, nor gods nor men his neighbors! "


Musing: This is one of my favorite passages in the book (have I said that before?!). Stubb laughs when he sees the whale boat bitten in half on board the Pequod. Ahab says it is only a soulless man who can laugh in the face of a wreck. Starbuck agrees and says the broken boat is a bad omen of things to come. Here is Ahab at his best and worst - he says that humanity, if reflected in Starbuck and Stubb, is both soulless and fearful of omens delivered by a god they are not sure of. Only Ahab, he says, is unique. And he is. Melville is fascinated by people who are individuals (think Bartleby). He fears them as well. If we all behave as individuals, how can we have order? And if we have order, how dull a world we inhabit. It is something to think about. Do we admire those who blaze their own way - both a Banksy and a Dennis Rodman? Or do we admore people who blaze their own conventional way?

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