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Sunday, 13 July 2008

Moby Dick

I'm reading Moby Dick. I've been meaning to for years, of course. I had downloaded it as an e-book. And then i purchased a print copy in an airport. But i had never started reading it until poor planning and a long wait caused me to turn to the ereader on my umpc. All i had in it was Moby Dick, so i finally started it.

I'm not far in now, only like 170 pages. This book is so long, Captain Ahab hasn't even made an appearance yet (I'm assuming he's not a Gudot). The introductary chapters are amazingly funny. They're also exceedingly queer. Ishmael forms a fast and deep friendship with a bed mate. Indications strongly suggest that they're lovers.

So, despite being barely at the start, i'm considering some projects around this book. Maybe a blog feature: Moby Dick Monday. Maybe a theatrical / musical piece. The book would seem to lend itself to opera. But the humor + the queer makes me want to camp it up. I have an ensemble in mind which would  be too perfect if it could happen: The Nuclear Whales Saxaphone Orchestra.  One of my high school music teachers plays in this group. They can do camp, for sure. I have an image of them on the stage playing some of the dramatic parts as well as their saxes. Their contrabass sax would, of course, play the whale.

In adittion to the ensemble, of course, i would need a librettist.  The ideal candidate would have a campy, queer sensibility and a familiarity with musical concerns. He or she would have experience either writing librettos or, at least, genre fiction. I would attempt to enlist sophie, the genre fiction writing, queer studies, conservatory drop-out, shares my sense of humor buddy, but i think she's probably busy.

I anticipate a  few challenges for the librettist in that this can't be a cut and paste job at all. From the first chapter, "Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can." Ok, that's really fantastic writing. The imagry is evocative, memorable and wry. I've had days where i just hoped somebody in the street would hassle me, so i could attack them. Ishmael wants to go a step further and be the agent that starts the fight. This is a potrait of doom, but it does lend itself to camp with the Harry and Maud-esque joining of funeral processions and pausing in front of coffin stores. However, for all its poetry, it is not concise. The whole book is full of witty, wry, long winded passages. This is the sort of thing that librettists are for, though. I mean, obviously you can't set every word or you'd have a cycle that made The Ring look humble and Einstein on the Beach seem short of text.

Librettists feel free to contact me.

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