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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Musing in a Time of Angst

From The Spouter-Inn

"Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den—the bar—a rude attempt at a right whale’s head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast arched bone of the whale’s jaw, so wide, a coach might almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (by which name indeed they called him), bustles a little withered old man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death."


Musing: When my mother was still alive, she would call me and tell me a story she'd heard in the news. "Oh, this world is so bad now," she would conclude. I tried to tell her nothing had changed but the ease at which we found out bad news.

I never noticed this passage from Moby-Dick before where Jonah, the druggist/barkeep, sells 'deliriums and death' to the sailors. I suppose even before drug laws existed the idea was the same. For the right price, you have a chance at either/or. The blame, if any, seems to be on the 'cursed' Jonah, who 'dearly sells' the products. There will always be blame and there will always be bad news. I suppose that's the way of humanity.

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