Thursday, November 10, 2011
the constant midnight
I read much of Melville in a college seminar, but somehow the professor skipped Moby Dick. And for the most part I’d been resolved to never reading it. It was right up there with Finnegan’s Wake and a lot of vampire novels. I didn’t need to go there. But it has kind of nagged at me, so this summer I said why not (with a nudge from my reading friend Ken).
Funny enough around the time we sank our teeth in, Moby Dick seemed to experience a mini-revival. A whale nearly swallowed a surfer on YouTube! Nathaniel Philbrick published his book “Why Read Moby Dick,” which I’m skipping for the real deal. And an artist named Matt Kish published a book in which he creates a drawing or painting “for every page” of Moby Dick (he used the 552-page Signet. I have the $3.99 Penguin with 536 pp).
For my birthday, at the end of the month, I bought myself the artwork you see above for p. 513: "As the unsetting polar star, which through the livelong, arctic, six months' night sustains its piercing, steady, central gaze; so Ahab's purpose now fixedly gleamed down upon the constant midnight of the gloomy crew." I also got the bargain page 347: "At the instant of the dart an ulcerous jet shot from this cruel wound..."
I love literature. It’s inspiring. Get it while it’s hot.