An entire semester dedicated to the reading, analysis, rereading, reanalysis, discussion, and reanalysis of Moby-Dick. It’s enough to make the noblest of saints drive a pencil through their Jugular. “Why would one take such a dreadful class?” you ask. Like the hobo who eats from the Dumpster, when you’re desperate for credit you’ll take anything. Little did I know during spring enrollment that I had signed my soul away to an academic asylum full of pseudo-intellectuals (a.k.a. douche bags) and personalities only found in sitcoms.
I only learned the names of 3/17 classmates in Moby-Dick, but I assigned each person a mental nickname based on their defining characteristic. These names are not intended as mockery, but merely a fully realistic portrayal of the “colorful” diversity in my honor’s class. That’s really just a polite way of saying these people are straight-up weird. There’s one in every class, so perhaps you can relate.
1. Homoerotic Guy: He has the God-given talent to interpret every reading as purely homoerotic. His most notable quote of the semester:
“Melville uses homoeroticism to invoke sensuality with his readers. Like a Chinese finger trap.”
Blank stares from the class.
“Come on. Like you don’t think Chinese finger traps are erotic.”
2. The Basement-Dweller: Pale as the moon, skinnier than a Holocaust Jew, with a pedophile’s mustache. Basement-Dweller may be the only person in this class who know what he’s talking about, occasionally breaking his silence to offer some truly insightful perspective into an otherwise absurd conversation.
3. The Kiss-Up: This chick literally memorized large bulks of the novel to recite at whim during class. No joke. You can read a quote, and within seconds she can spout out the page number. She made whale-shaped cookies for the class on Melville’s birthday and drew an elaborate portrait of a whale as a cover illustration for our essay compilation.
4. The Hipster Girl: I can’t tell her hair color because it’s always hidden under a beanie. She writes only in Moleskin notebooks with recycled paper. Sometimes her perspective is novel and unique, while at other times I think she simply picks two arbitrary elements from books she’s read in the past and draws BS conclusions. There’s no way an old sea captain embodies an 1850’s Frankenstein. No deal, Hipster Girl, no deal.
5. The Tri Delt: Possibly a mute as I’ve never heard her voice. She wears the stereotypical high bun, Nike shorts, oversized T-shirt, and neon running shoes. One lazy day I sported my own pair of Nike shorts to class, and she managed to move herself all the way from across the circle to sit beside me. I’m sure she was disappointed to discover I was, in fact, a flaming GDI. She didn’t sit by me anymore.
Mind you these are just six of 16. Never in all my semesters at OU have I encountered such an interesting assortment of students as I did in Moby-Dick, though that’s the risk you assume taking honor’s courses. When my time was up and the shackles loosened, I sprinted out of the asylum never to look back. Perhaps some kind of sick self-fulfilling prophecy is at play here. The novel ends with Ishmael telling the reader that he alone survived to tell the tale. Well, friends, it seems that I alone have lived to tell the tales of the academic asylum known as Moby-Dick in Context. Consider yourself warned.
P.S. The above mentioned excludes the two friends I made in this course whom I sat by every week. You know who you are.