Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 306: Poor Herman Melville

Call me Ishma-elle.

In the late 1800s, Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick, one of the world's finest pieces of literature, a detailed account of the whaling fishery at the time—an allegory for American expansion, a deep exploration into the human psyche, a meditation on man's relationship to God—but his timing was off. The public had turned its eyes to the romantic West. The brilliant piece of literature was too deep for its time; it marked the decline of his faintly rising star because it didn't make the New York Times Best Seller List. Everyone was too busy reading Mark Twain. Not that you could blame them.

But still. The poor chap spent his last days as a customs inspector and died in obscurity at 72.

I've got a white whale of my own this morning, and I call it "Conducting." I'm about to unfurl the rigging of the whale ship Corolla and head off to slay the leviathan: the final exam. Aye, mate, instead of waking up to play saxophone, I reheated yesterday's leftover coffee, finished writing a score study of Robert W. Smith's seven-minute wind band piece, "Ireland: Of Legend and Lore" (due today... of course), then inhaled and dove deep to the musty hold to practice conducting patterns to some of the wackiest meter changes I'll ever encounter.

My harpoon is feeling a little dull this morning.

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