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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 23: Musings From the Sixth Reading of the Great Book


Chapter 20: Day 23: All Astir


“If I had been downright honest with myself, I would have seen very plainly in my heart that I did but half fancy being committed this way to so long a voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man who was to be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed out upon the open sea. But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself. And much this way it was with me. I said nothing, and tried to think nothing.


 

Musings:


The thing about Moby-Dick lies in how Melville touches the human folly in each of us so well. I’ve never been aboard a whale ship and never will. I actually hate being on the water. I will not eat seafood. I detest the thought of being confined on a boat for 3 minutes, much less 3 years. Still, I find it easy to understand Ishmael’s thoughts.


Ishmael admits he is halfhearted about his decision to sail on The Pequod because he has not met the Captain before the journey and he knows he should. Then Ish admits that sometimes when we humans know we are stuck in a situation, we try to gloss over the fear even to ourselves. This is how we get into more trouble. Think of any relationship where big red flags were planted in your yard and you mowed around them anyway.


It's that ability Melville has to put me in the shoes of Ishmael that I love. Whale voyage or buying a new car, we’ve all ignored warning signs and made ourselves believe we made the right call. Genius, that Melville.

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