Sunday, September 8, 2013

I See Why English Professors Love This

I've never read Moby Dick before, but, much like Dr. Wickman pointed out, it's always been on my radar because it's just one of those books everyone knows about. I'm actually really glad I've never picked it up before now, though, but I already see so much that I just would not have been able to appreciate before simply because being an English major for a year and a half has taught me so much about how to read and how to understand great literature. Thanks to my education, lines like "Ignorance is the parent of fear" (p. 19) and extended descriptions and musings on topics like whether our shadow is our true self and the body just a vehicle are so much more rich and intriguing simply because I have learned how to think literature as well as just read it.

Queequeg, and more, his relationship with Ishmael, fascinates me. It's so interesting how they can be such good friends, and still Ishmael off-handedly judges him at time for being a "pagan" and just dismisses his intelligence and/or his behavior as inferior. At the same time, though, I don't think Ishmael could or would become as fast of friends with anyone from his same religious/cultural background. So, ironically, the very thing that keep he and Queequeg forever at a kind of distance--their cultural and religious differences--is the very thing that excuses such a fast friendship. And this is all the more intriguing because this is often how it happens in our own lives. I remember making very fast and very strong friends on my mission for the LDS church in Argentina, yet always feeling a kind of insurmountable distance simply because of cultural differences. Melville plays with this phenomenon very precisely and it keeps me reading (despite the obvious and grueling lack of any plot whatsoever in these early pages).