“Like a frigate, I am full with a thousand souls; and as on, on, on, I scud before the wind, many mariners rush up from the orlop below, like miners from caves; running shouting across my decks; opposite braces are pulled and boisterous speaking trumpets are heard, and contending orders to save the good ship from the shoals. In my tropical calms, when my ship lies tranced on Eternity’s main, the many , many souls in me speak one at a time, then all with one voice, rising and falling and swaying in golden calls and responses.” — Herman Melville
Raymond Weaver, in an essay entitled “Melville’s Composite Achievement” (1919) said “… neither ‘Lycidas’ nor ‘Moby-Dick’ should be read by philistines or pragmatists.” He was explicitly speaking of Samuel Johnson, who was disgusted by Lycidas.
I may be a philistine, but I have never been a “pragmatist”. All of my skills are worthless. I’m a musician and poet, a weightlifter and coach, and worst of all, a mathematician!
Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Moby Dick is, if not my favorite novel, my favorite novel written in English. Only Don Quixote and The Brother’s Karamazov could possibly top it, for me — and then only just.
Now go lift something heavy,