05 January 2009


I picked the Internet moniker "Starbuck" based on the drinking, cigar-smoking, womanizing, humorous, yet somewhat responsible and lovable character on the original Battlestar Galactica (and the female Kara "Starbuck" Thrace from the BSG re-make).  I also thought it was appropriate as I hit up Starcuks in the US almost every single day.

But both the character and the coffee company took the name "Starbuck" from a character in the novel Moby Dick, who was Captain Ahab's first mate.  (In The X-Files, Dana Scully is nicknamed "Starbuck" by her father, has a dog she names "Queequeg", and has referred to Mulder as "Captain Ahab").  Based on the number of allusions to this novel I've seen, I decided to read it.  

I was actually expecting a lot more plot in this novel.  Instead, I've been innundated with pages upon pages of detailed taxonomic descriptions of whales, which are based on scientific knowledge that pre-dated Darwin.  Despite the fact that Melville spends an entire chapter claiming that whales are fish, we are now fairly certain that they're actually descended from a family of hooved mammals which gradually returned into the sea and evolved into whales.  Well, except in the state of Kansas, where I'm obliged to say that they magically appeard 6,000 years ago.


raft said...

moby dick is one of those undeniably Great Novels that aren't actually very fun to read. it picks up towards the end but not by much.

i do, however, recommend the film version with Patrick Stewart.

Starbuck said...

I just went through five chapters of whale anatomy. I just want to hear more talk of Ahab's obsession over the whale. Moby Dick has only made a fleeting appearance thus far in the book, and I'm about 3/4 of the way through. There seems to be no real sub-plots or characterization in this, also, and that goes for Ahab especially.