“Nor when expandingly lifted by your subject, can you fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, and boats in pursuit of them; as when long filled with thoughts of war the Eastern nations saw armies locked in battle among the clouds. Thus at the North have I chased Leviathan round and round the Pole with the revolutions of the bright points that first defined him to me. And beneath the effulgent Antarctic skies I have boarded the Argo-Navis, and joined the chase against the starry Cetus far beyond the utmost stretch of Hydrus and the Flying Fish.
With a frigate’s anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!”
Man, Moby Dick is a weird and wonderful book. It’s such a meandering mix of adventure, humor, philosophy and incompetent zoology that I’m willing to overlook all the whale decapitations. If you enjoy narrative journeys with frequent (though scenic) detours, and allusions that fly over one’s head like a U2 spy plane, I highly recommend giving it a read.
And in case you”d like to know ahead of time why I’m going to lose my eyesight making paintings like these: