Skip to main content

Moby Dick

I just finished listening to Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. It's available here free of charge. I thought the reader, though certainly not a professional, did quite well. He knew his pronunciation on all the myriad whaling terms, and clearly knew the work quite well. His Captain Ahab voice was my favorite--it became very familiar by the end.

I would say this book is half whaling textbook and half adventure novel. I kept thinking about how one would make a movie out of such a work, and my only conclusion is that half or more of the material would have to be discarded. It is a crazy work, weirder than I had imagined possible for such a highly-regarded work. Still, I liked it immensely.

Still, what a great story. Melville clearly had a passion for the subject, and the tale is well told, with excellent characters. The ship is almost a microcosm of the world, with an incredibly diverse crew, fairly treated by the author (for 1850, that is).

Ahab was my favorite character; perhaps a more sympathetic villain has never been created. The scene where he takes the insane boy Pip under his wing was incredibly moving. His final line, "From hell's heart I stab at thee" has echoed since it first appeared.

And what fantastic language! Melville was the finest writer of American Romanticism. I might have to check out Typee and Omoo now. We'll see.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

The Basic Instinct of Socialism

This year I finally decided to stop beating around the bush and start calling myself a democratic socialist. I think the reason for the long hesitation is the very long record of horrifying atrocities carried out by self-described socialist countries. Of course, there is no social system that doesn't have a long, bloody rap sheet, capitalism very much included . But I've never described myself as a capitalist either, and the whole point of socialism is that it's supposed to be better than that. So of course I cannot be a tankie — Stalin and Mao were evil, terrible butchers, some of the worst people who ever lived. There are two basic lessons to be learned from the failures of Soviet and Chinese Communism, I think. One is that Marxism-Leninism is not a just or workable system. One cannot simply skip over capitalist development, and any socialist project must be democratic and preserve basic liberal freedoms. The second, perhaps more profound lesson, is that there is no s

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves that