Tuesday, September 4, 2012


"Since the Sperm Whale's eyes are positioned on opposite sides of his head, he 'must see one distinct picture on this side, and another distinct picture on that side.'"

I took Moby Dick to Nantucket, where I read Elizabeth Renker's introduction, some of Melville’s prefatory material, and the first ten pages of the novel itself, picking it up for a minute or two or at a time. That was about a month ago, at the beginning of my August vacation. Melville hadn’t visited Nantucket when he wrote Moby Dick, and in the end I wouldn’t read Moby Dick while I was in Nantucket, although I thought about it a lot.

I don’t know what Moby Dick will mean to me later, when I’ve read it, but not reading it, it still managed to mean something, or even many things: it was fear, it was happiness, it was writing, it was swimming, it was certainly fishing, it was death and it was freedom. It was the lost dog we found on a walk and returned to its house, where an empty red leash hung from the door. It was my parents‘ dog, who ate a bottle of suntan lotion and shit on the bed. It was my pregnant sister, who had to go home and wait to have her baby. It was my sick uncle, it was sunset, it was the swim and tennis club. It was It, it was out there, and it was waiting to reveal itself to me. When it surfaced, and I saw it, I would see the shape of the world.

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