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October 25, 2011

It’s wonderful to see Vanity Fair feature Moby-Dick. But why did Nathaniel Philbrick begin his essay with three paragraphs of apologetic resistance to the novel, and then take the tack that the book is Good for You and Historically Important?  As ever, the joy of seeing others appreciate what I love is mingled with possessive irritation, and followed by the dull shame of realizing that this is hardly a generous response. Philbrick’s conclusion doesn’t rankle though: “This redemptive mixture of skepticism and hope, this genial stoicism in the face of a short, ridiculous, and irrational life, is why I read Moby-Dick.

Speaking of whales, Maria Popova’s blog collects a trove of intellectual distractions, including this lovely animation, and, still on the biblio-oceanic theme, this pointer to Jonathan Balcombe’s pictorial testament to animal emotion.

Discover depicts marine biologists arguing over dolphins’ personhood and uses one of my favorite maritime/historical cities to convey the stakes of global change; the Times mourns the mathematical miracle that is the chambered nautilus; and NPR answers the obvious, do animals grieve?


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