The Daily Dick: Musing in a Time of Angst
From: The Nut
"For I believe that much of a man’s character will be found betokened in his backbone. I would rather feel your spine than your skull, whoever you are. A thin joist of a spine never yet upheld a full and noble soul. I rejoice in my spine, as in the firm audacious staff of that flag which I fling half out to the world."
Many people get lost in these chapters of Moby-Dick. Melville takes quite some time examining the head of a whale, comparing the heads of whales, looking closely at the face of a whale, climbing on the jaw of a whale – it is a lot of whale!
Then again, the whale is a mighty topic! Some of the quote above is a pun – punny, if you will. Then again, we do speak of how some men have a strong backbone while others do not. And by this, we mean they have a strong character. While wandering through the anatomy of the whale, here is a correlation to mankind. Be strong in character, Melville seems to say. And by favoring a spine over the skull, perhaps character matters even more more than academic strength.