Moby-Dick: 64%

Photo by Jennett Bremer on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I posted about my experience reading Moby-Dick on the Serial Reader app. I’ve kept at it, and am now more than half-way through. In about a month, I should be able to proudly state: “I’ve read Moby-Dick!”

Here are some observations from the first 80 or so chapters, and the Internet surfing those chapters begot:

  • I find myself rooting for the whales. The mariners on the Pequod have killed three so far (none of them Moby Dick), and the whole process is so brutal. And definitely fails all the modern-day “sustainability” tests. Here’s a passage I just read, regarding this one poor whale with a hobbled fin: “For all his old age, and his one arm, and his blind eyes, he must die the death and be murdered, in order to light the gay bridals and other merry-makings of men, and also to illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional inoffensiveness by all to all.”
  • That quote, right there, and other passages like it, are the reasons I keep reading. Melville doesn’t hold back in his descriptions, but he also doesn’t fail to subtly point out the ironies of the whole whale-hunting thing. I didn’t live in the 1850s, so I can’t say for sure, but in certain respects, his writing feels like it was way ahead of its time.
  • Speaking of the 1850s, I guess phrenology and physiognomy were a thing back then. In a truly bizarro chapter, Ishmael compares the facial and cranial characteristics of a sperm whale to a right whale. Even more weird, he does this because a head of each was hoisted on either side of the Pequod. At one point, he refers to the head of one as “Locke” and the other as “Kant.” Referring to the philosophers John Locke and Immanuel Kant.
  • Fun factoid: I share a birthday with John Locke.
  • Interesting factoid: Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the 1956 film, Moby Dick.

That’s enough for now!

New Smyrna, Part 2

This post was supposed to contain some deeper musings about my time in New Smyrna Beach. About how Tim and I wound up there because of a successful silent auction bid last fall. We bid on a week’s stay on a condo during the Deo Gratias fundraiser I wrote about last November. Or how I finished Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 during vacation (it’s one of those books I never read during my school years—a deficit I’ve been seeking to correct for some time.)

I could have written something about time and the seasons linking up, how Deo Gratias led to another type of journey. Or something about how the lessons in Fahrenheit 451 still resonate today—how a majority can be persuaded to choose ignorance over the wisdom that comes through experience.

But, no. In a “vacation’s truly over now” kind of moment, I’m having some work done at the house and find myself without wi-fi. I got rid of an old modem as part of the whole process, but I can’t install the new one yet. Because I can’t get the old cable out of the wall. My finger and thumb are pretty raw from trying to get the nut to budge (and yes, I know which direction it’s supposed to turn: lefty-loosey).

So whereas I endeavored to unplug last week with limited success, here I am now left with no choice.

Resistance is pervasive.

Which brings to my final vacation discovery. Sunday night, I was already back home, but had not yet returned to my job (so by my rules, technically still on vacation). I encountered Dee Todd’s post, a review of Steven Pressfield’s DO THE WORK! Overcome Resistance and get out of your own way. I was compelled enough to download the book, and am about a quarter of the way through.

Pressfield’s premise is that any activity “that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity will elicit Resistance.” He includes a number of endeavors in those activities: writing, painting, launching an entrepreneurial venture, a new health regimen, and more. Essentially: “the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

He writes: “Resistance is a force of nature. It acts objectively.” I’m thinking of that coaxial cable nut. I know it’s not out to get me as it resists all my efforts to dislodge it. Even though it feels like it. And since it’s forced me to unplug, it’s turned into something of a benefit.

Pressfield also writes: “Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use it as a compass.”

Hmmm. I already know that writing’s a pretty big deal to me. And when the time I set aside for it gets spent on something else—when I push back instead of going with the flow—it weighs heavily.

Right now, I have two pieces of writing that are so close to fruition. My first novel is set to republish in two months, after another round of editing. My second novel is in draft form, and it’s chock full of line edits, awaiting my review and revision. Maybe the lesson is this: when I say I’m going to unplug, I really should, so that I can get my butt in gear and Do the Work.