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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 63: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Chapter 52: The Albatross

“Round the world! There is much in that sound to inspire proud feelings; but whereto does all that circumnavigation conduct? Only through numberless perils to the very point whence we started, where those that we left behind secure, were all the time before us. [ . . . ] But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed.”




We come across a ship! It will be the first of many. When ships meet in the ocean, they usually engage in a gam (see next chapter) where they exchange letters, news, etc. Ahab holds up his trumpet (megaphone) and asks if the Goney has seen Moby-Dick. The Goney’s captain is willing to answer, but he drops his megaphone in the ocean and communication is lost.


What we do see in the Goney is the opposite of the Pequod. After 4 years of hunting whales, the Goney is worn out, the sailors exhausted, and even a gam is impossible. Is this what the Pequod will be like in three years?


Ishmael takes some time to lament. Perhaps seeing the Goney made him sad. But the idea of going around the world only to come back to where you began itches Ishmael’s brain. He opines that we humans are never really looking for new places, we are in search of dreams. White whales, and treasures, and new lives. But often all we get for our troubles is worn out, like the Goney, and right back where we started.


This is the Ishmael I do like the best. And if I’m honest, he’s right. We do spend a lot of time chasing dreams only to end up right where we began.

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