Mar. 13th, 2011 10:00 pm
theholyinnocent: (Default)
[personal profile] theholyinnocent
Toward the end of my college days I did the communal living thing with a bunch of various gays, feminists, artists, and misfits. The house owner was a middle-aged English prof at a community college. He was a very intelligent, well-read guy and as I was an English major, our talks frequently turned to books and what I was reading/studying. How he laughed at me as I suffered through The Faerie Queen—good times! One semester I had an survey of American lit class and one of the short works we read was Melville’s “Benito Cereno.” I expressed admiration of the story. And he told me that as far as Melville was concerned that’s as far as I would go, because “women don’t read Moby-Dick.”

It took a while for me to really lost respect for him, but that was the first fissure in the foundation. Admittedly it took me a good long while to tackle the Great White Whale. Other big books kept getting in the way. Middlemarch. Don Quixote (which I never finished). The Recognitions (which I think is the longest book I’ve read, but aside from the bull sacrifice I don’t remember a damn thing about it…oh God, I hope there’s a bull sacrifice in it, otherwise that means I DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT IT). But a couple months ago I finally conquered the Great White Book (there’s a joke in there somewhere about the whiteness of the American literary canon). And finally I get what all the fuss is about.

But Lord, he do go on about that whale. Well, the whale in a general sense. But in such a pure marriage of poetry and prose that it carries you along, as the Pequod carried its crew to their destiny. It is a purely American book, with rough beauty and the theme of the individual—one man’s driven obsession that governs all, overriding common sense, compassion, property, prosperity, and other people’s lives. It’s the illogical, extreme outcome of the free will that our country so cherishes (and there’s a mini-essay about Charlie Sheen in there somewhere, but Little Lord Douchebag has gotten way too much attention lately, so fuck that). Who else but an American could have written it?

Have I mentioned that I’ve already broken my New Year’s Resolution of not using the word “douchebag” this year? And hundreds of times already? Like multiple times a day? Like even at meetings at work (mainly to annoy an aggravating, prudish coworker)?

Anyway, after I finished Moby-Dick, Mrs. THI congratulated me with a kiss and this: “Now you can go back to finishing Proust!” But I think I will save Proust for retirement.

I wanted to write more here, mainly about writing and The Kids Are All Right, but I think I’ll save that for another post. The Girl Scout cookies are calling.
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