The Whale Defeated Me

I admit it; the White Whale defeated me, as he has defeated many other. Indeed, as he defeated Ahab himself.

I tried, I sincerely tried to finish Moby Dick, but I just couldn’t do it. After reading a full two thirds of the book I just didn’t care any more. I didn’t care about the characters. I was actively beginning to despise the narrator, Ishmael, and I was actively cheering for the whale.

Fortunately, I already knew how the story ends, so I’m not actually losing any thing by giving it up. I can now go on to better, more enjoyable activities. If only Ahab could have given up his obsession he could have done the same.

Current Reading Devices and List

This past Christmas my blessed Mother gave me what is quite possibly the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received: A Kindle E-Book Reader. I cannot adequately begin to describe how cool this thing is; I have been carrying it everywhere since the day I opened it. So far I have purchased ten books for it, and that means that I am carrying with me 10 books everywhere I go. When you combine that with the audio books on my Ipod, I am a veritable walking library.

I mostly listen to the audio books on the Ipod while I’m driving to and from work, running errands, or working on some kind of other project here in the house. The Kindle gets read whenever I have time to just sit and devote myself to reading.

Among the collection of books I have on the IPod is the entire collection of the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brien. These novels feature the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his best friend/ship’s surgeon Steven Maturin of the British Royal Navy during and just after the Napoleonic Wars. I’ve read them all before, and loved them, but when listening to them read by a narrator I often find myself noticing things about the characters, or the plot that I missed upon the first reading.

The series starts with Master and Commander. Jack Aubrey has just been promoted to the rankĀ  of Master and Commander of the Sophie in the Mediterranean. He is based out of Port Minorca. He strikes a friendship with Dr. Maturin, who has temporarily been left ashore without employment and invites him to become the ships surgeon for the Sophie.

The story then goes on to describe several cruises the Sophie undertakes. Because of his luck in taking prizes, Aubrey quickly earns the nickname of “Lucky Jack”. His skill as a sailor, and as an officer, enable him to form the crew of the Sophie into a effective naval fighting force.

When we first meet Steven Maturin, he is mostly ignorant of the Navy, and of naval customs. It is through him that O’Brian describes the customs of the navy, and of naval terms. These novels are considered by many to be some of the most historically accurate descriptions of the British navy of the period. I find them fascinating.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Moby Dick on the Kindle. I know , I know. Moby Dick is widely considered to be one of the “Great American Novels”. I also know I should have read it years ago when I was in high school or college, but I never did. I have to tell you, I’m not seeing the quality of the novel. Melville is overly verbose, and the story could have benefited from the work of a rather ruthless editor. It is it at times preachey, moralizing, and, to me, utterly annoying. However, I have pledged to finish it, so I will. If nothing else, I know I have better, more interesting books waiting to be read.

October 7, 2010: The Turtle Moves: Moves the Disk World.

It is time to visit Cormac’s Library. I do so love to read and have loved to do so since Mrs. Kokendorfer taught me how in the first grade. In the far to many years since, I’ve read voraciously, in all genres except romance. Just never got into romance much.

Roughly 15 years ago my friend Lee introduced me to the works of Terry Pratchett. I don’t think I’ve thanked him enough for that. In the years since I have read all of Sir Terry’s works many times, and each time I’ve gained something new fro the experience.

Pratchett writes, mostly , in the fantasy genre, and unlike most fantasy writers, he write truly funny, and thought provoking satire. It takes great skill as a writer to make someone not merely smile, but to laugh outloud, and Pratchett has that talent in spades.

Most of his work is set on the Disk World. This is a place where magic is real; you must accept that as a given. Unlike writers like say Robert Jordan, Pratchett doesn’t go to a lot of effort to explain the magic, it just is. Over the course of 38 novels, Terry has fully developed this world into a truly interesting and unique place.

The Disk is a flat world, not a sphere, It rides on the back of four giant elephants, who in turn stand on the back of the Great A’Tuin, the celestial space turtle, who swims through space toward some unknown point and unknown time. Can you see why magic has to exist on such a world?

There are four main sets of stories in Pratchett’s work: The Wizards of Unseen University, The City Watch of Ankh Morpork, the Witches of Lancre, and DEATH and other anthromorphications. In the last eight years he has also started another series of Ankh Morpork stories featuring a reformed con-man named Moist Von Lipwig, and a second set of witch novels based on Tiffany Aching. While each book can be read as a stand alone novel, if they are read in order the experience is much richer.

Over the next few weeks I’ll examine the individual books in the Disk World Cannon, starting with my personal favorite set of characters, the City Watch of Ankh Morpork. Next week we will take a look at “Guards Guards”.

September 29, 2010: A New Plan

Just one more day in this month, and much to my surprise I have to say it has been a pretty good month. I realize in looking back over the goals I set for the year in January that I’ve not gotten anywhere nearĀ  attaining those goals. That is Ok, a plan never turns out the way you think it will, and a big part of life is accepting that. So, no, I’m not where I thought I would be, but I have made a great deal of progress, and I am really quite pleased by that.

I have been particularly pleased with the September Face Book theme; posting 3 things a day that make me happy. I won’t claim it was always easy, but so far I have managed to post something every day, and I honestly think it doing so has helped change my outlook. When you are looking for reasons to be happy, they are remarkably easy to find. I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to decide on a theme for October, and I think I’ve decided to pursue a variation of something April suggested: Roctober. Each day I’m going to post a song, and probably part of the lyrics to that song, that inspires me. Or maybe just a song I really like.

I’ve also been trying to decide on a theme for this blog, and I’ve finally decided on a three part theme:

1. Autobiography: One post each week will continue the autobiography I started earlier this week. The project interests me mainly because of all things I realize I don’t know about my family. Don’t get me wrong, I do know a lot, but as I’ve started to write what I know I come to realize what I don’t know. This will give me an excuse to ask some family members some questions.

2. Library: One post each week will be about books; books that I have found to be inspiring, or thought provoking, and in some cases books that have just made me angry. Gods know I’ll never run out of things to write about, as I’ve been in love with books of all kinds since Mrs. Kokendorfer taught me to read in the first grade.

3. SCA: Over the last 8 years the SCA has been a VERY important part of my life. Hell, it’s been my main source of social interaction. I for the last six years I have been pursuing a definite goal, and at this point I am not sure where I stand in pursuit of that goal. I do love the SCA, but sometimes I really, REALLY wonder why. So, I’m going to explore that. Things I love about the SCA an what it represents, and what I don’t like. I’m NOT going to use this as a platform to rant and rave, but I am going to use it as a way to express my thoughts, feelings, and goals. My hope is that doing so will help me gain some clarity.

So, that is the plan for Cormac’s Corner going forward.