Monday, August 1, 2016

We're Whalers On The Moon

Birthday of Big Marine Mammal Avatar Creators


Over at The Soul Of America, it's a celebration of Herman Melville's 197th birthday, and things of the Sea, and a Whale and other notables which Herman brought back, to tell Thee. I considered writing a post from the viewpoint of the Whale just for the potential Yucks (because, god knows, We Need The Yucks Wherever We Can Get Them), but gave it up and settled for the Humorous Image.

The best thing about the post, and the reason I mention it here, is -- Herman tends to be overlooked in a culture whose highest expression is a Rhianna / Pitbull remix; it's good to be reminded that he is still there -- as he reminds us that we are chased by our mortality; and that sometimes the Form Of The Destructor is large, albino, and aquatic.  For me, it's a big lawn mower. Your mileage may differ.

I was introduced to Melville when I was fourteen -- not through the novel he's most often identified with, but in the short work, "Bartelby The Scrivener" (1853), a classic in its own right. Ishmael's tale was next, and I was, uh, hooked. Later, I wasn't able to read anything by James or Conrad that didn't refer back to the narrative style I encountered first with Melville.

When I consider it, "Moby Dick: Or, A Whale" is ubiquitous now. There is No Whale before He who populates a goodly portion of that book (Yeah, okay; 'Shamu'  and 'Willy': not the same thing). That Big Marine Mammal is archetypal, now.

And His (or, Her) echoes in the culture are manifest:  We get Futurama's We're Whalers On The Moon / We Carry A Harpoon; or Robert Graves' "Good-Bye To All That" (where the President of his College at post-Great War Oxford tells the assembled, 'Gentlemen, the menu indicates that tonight we are dining on "Whale and Pigeon Pie." You will find the ratio of the ingredients to be precisely one whale to one pigeon');  or, Robertson Davies' What's Bred In The Bone (" '...Catch Me!' She said through a mouthful of whale' ").

And, when something appears in Family Guy, it's now hard-wired into our DNA.

 Herman Left Out The Part Where Whales Like 'Total'
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MEHR, MIT KEINE POLITIK: My Very Own Hillaryite Colleague asks, "So you hate music, too?" (This, because of the Rhianna / Pitbull quip.) And I would agree, it's absurdist reductionism to claim that the essence of culture in Eusa is rap music and movies like Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. I'm convinced that people (or, Whales; or very intelligent Honey Badgers) in the not very distant future will look back on this period as one of the most varied and vibrant in the history of our humanoid species -- until, you know, that thing happens.
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UND NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Once I saw this, I could not un-see it. It is an actual book.

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