Blubber, blubber (50 miles off the Louisiana coast, its themes of hubris, destructiveness and relentless pursuit are as telling as ever)
Update for Jürgen’s Livestream vom Meeresgrund:
It’s irresistible to make the analogy between the relentless hunt for whale oil in Melville’s day and for petroleum in ours. [Melville’s story] is certainly, among many other things, a cautionary tale about the terrible cost of exploiting nature for human wants. It’s a story about self-destruction visited upon the destroyer — and the apocalyptic vision at the end seems eerily pertinent to today.
Andrew Delbanco: Melville: His World and Work.
We want our comforts but we don’t want to know too much about where they come from or what makes them possible. The oil spill in the gulf is a horror, but how many Americans are ready to pay more for oil or for making the public investment required to develop alternative energy? I suspect it’s a question that Melville would be asking of us now.
Andrew Delbanco for Randy Kennedy:
The Ahab Parallax: Moby Dick and the Spill,
New York Times, June 11, 2010.
Mr. Delbanco cautions, however, against the tendency to read environmentalist moralizing into “Moby-Dick,” as often happens when it is applied to contemporary disasters. Melville did, memorably, wonder whether the whale “must not at last be exterminated from the waters, and the last whale, like the last man, smoke his last pipe.” But one gets the sense that he would have considered the loss a greater one to literature than to the ecosystem. “Even as he recoiled from their blindness and brutality,” Mr. Delbanco said, “Melville celebrated the heroism of the hunters who would stop at nothing to get what human civilization demanded.”
Randy Kennedy, l.c., page 2.
Living and dying with Herman Melville.