Monday, March 16, 2009

Herman Melville shows how to eat a cuttlefish with gusto.

A little setup: most of Herman Melville's Mardi is a journey from island to island, each with a different king, different society, different whatnot. It's satire, or something. Most of the kings are treated as divinities, but not the gourmand Borabolla, because he is too fat:

"Now, to the fact of his not being rated a demi-god, was perhaps ascribable the circumstance, that Borabolla comported himself with less dignity, than was the wont of their Mardian majesties. And truth to say, to have seen him regaling himself with one of his favorite cuttle-fish, its long snaky arms and feelers instinctively twining round his head as he ate; few intelligent observers would have opined that the individual before them was the sovereign lord of Mondoldo."

My only point, such as it is, is that I don't think this is the correct way to eat a cuttlefish. Is it? And it's being eaten alive, right - "instinctively twining"? So maybe that's the first problem. Anybody else picking up just a hint of H. P. Lovecraft here?

Last week was chaotic for me; this week will probably be the same. So all week on Wuthering Expectations: pointless chaos. Actually, I don't know if I have the energy for chaos. So strike "chaos," but keep "pointless."

The quotation can be found in Chapter XCV. That's right, chapter 95, of 195 total.


  1. I've not read Lovecraft (nor knowingly eaten cuttlefish) but your description that the book is, "a journey from island to island, each with a different king, different society, different whatnot. It's satire, or something," reminds me greatly of Gulliver's Travels. Any connection?
    Good luck with the chaos.

  2. You may not have read Lovecraft, but you have been in the adorable, terrifying presence of PLUSH C'THULHU. Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! *cough* Ahem.

    As for Gulliver, yes, definitely. Melville is cribbing from Gulliver's Travels, especially Book 3, and also, like Swift, from Book 4 of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

  3. You are a braver man than I for choosing to indulge in "Mardi" - good luck!

  4. Oh, I know about the plush C'Thulhu (my Mister has one of smaller dimensions than his brother), I even learned that C'Thulhu goes with Lovecraft and that a certain type of visitor to our house is very impressed with the C'Thulu. Still, I haven't read Lovecraft.

  5. Braver, what does he mean, braver, I thought? Then I opened Mardi to my bookmark, Chapter 133, and read the first sentence:

    "Gogle-goggle, fugle-fi, fugle-fogle-orum," so hummed to himself Babbalanja, slowly pacing over the fossils.

    Ay yi yi. I see. "Braver" means "stupider."

    In Turkey, several years ago, I had the most amazing calamari, just sauteed in butter, with a little lemon juice. Amazing. All of this cuttlefish talk is making me hungry for tentacles.