Friday, February 04, 2005

The White Whale of Terrorism

In Chapter One of Moby-Dick, Ishmael ruminates about the importance of going to sea. In his mind, he sees this as no minor task. In fact, he sees it as a major world event and crams it between two "headlines" which have such similarities to the 2000 presidential election and subsequent war on terror, that it is so frightening that there's no need to even freak out. Freaking out will only make it worse, and you can't stand it being any stranger.



(note to serious Melvillians: Sorry about this book cover. I couldn't find an image that had both interesting cover art and the book's correct spelling "Moby-Dick." Sorry, I had to opt for a better picture than having the properly placed hyphen.)

From the text of Chapter One, LOOMINGS:

And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:

Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States
Whaling Voyage by one Ishmael
BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN

Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces - though I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment. Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whale himself.

*********

If all this wasn't freaky enough, someone went all "Bible Code" on Melville and came up with this dumb shit:



However, here is a relatively reasonable essay on the topic, reading The Whale as a warning against an aggressive American war on terror: America as Ahab; the WTC attack as Ahab's leg; the white whale as terrorism, etc. Cooney makes a great point comparing Ishmael's voyage to one originally meant for financial gain perverted into an exercise in vengence, much like America's world alliances.

But he loses me when he compares first mate Starbuck to Pakistan. What? Starbuck was a Christian. Anyway, here's that link:

http://www.counterpunch.org/cooney1.html

Oh, and hey... remember when Clint posted this kid:

2 Comments:

At 4:45 PM, Blogger stark pimp said...

On Morning Edition this morning there was a piece called "Skeptics See Tough Road Ahead for Bush Social Security Plan." In it, one skeptical Republican described Social Security as being, to most lock-step Republicans, "the White Whale, this is like Moby Dick." Saying that Social Security, being the cornerstone of FDR, the New Deal and the modern Democratic Party must be taken down in the minds of Republicans. Vengeance. Don't know if that guy read the article or if it is just a natural allusion, the kind of thing that is just in the air even if you've never read the book. If you would like to hear, it is a good piece of radio: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4485730

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger stark pimp said...

Maybe the Democrats should change their mascot from a donkey to a giant scowling Sperm Whale. And George Bush could cut off his own leg to show empathy towards the troops.

 

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