Old friends have been passing through and I started teaching this week; no sleep, all conviviality and coffee, so this is the first evening back in my quiet corner of the living room visiting this quiet corner of the internet. I finally wiped it off the Google map for good, so now I can once again smear my bleeding heart all over the screen without worrying about exposure to the people I’m supposed to be mentoring.
J. totally busted me the other night: “Sometimes I think you still have an idea that you’ll never have to work for a living.” At least I could laugh about it.
Here, this is one for the kids; my first-year adviser in the doctoral program here, one of the top Melville scholars in the country, was contacted a few years ago by DreamWorks with regard to an animated Moby-Dick then in pre-production. Over a two-hour conference call, which furnished by far the highest hourly wage of this professor’s life, it became clear that the DreamWorks executives, who had all read through the book to some extent, wanted primarily to settle some factual questions, such as how much time had elapsed between the whale taking Ahab’s leg and Ishmael’s voyage on the Pequod. The professor’s explanation, that the span of time is never mentioned because part of the book’s point is that the experience of trauma operates outside chronological time, didn’t make them very happy, but they pressed on; until after an hour or so it became clear that they were actually contemplating a Moby-Dick told from the whale’s point of view. With an environmental moral. At that point there wasn’t much more to tell them.
The film did eventually get the thumbs down, but not before some concept art was perpetrated. Admirers of the tortured Melvillean anatomy of the human heart ought especially to enjoy:
Hide & Seek
What a charming smile! Whale fellow well met.