Sunday, April 22, 2007

Moby Dick

Possibly the greatest opening in all of literature:

"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, sometime or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings toward the ocean with me."
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

I love that passage, the part in bold being my favorite of Melville's poetic flourishes in it. It perfectly describes the way I feel sometimes. There are days when I feel that "damp, drizzly November in my soul" and I want nothing more than to get outside for a walk or something like that. I love the ocean, but for me spending a little time by a river or taking a walk in the cemetary near my house does just fine for "driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation." Walking in a cemetary is a little morbid, I admit, but it really is beautiful and peaceful in there. Good place to think and get things in perspective.

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