White Whale

I finally understand Moby Dick. After viewing a terrific dramatization of Melville's famous tale of a whale (courtesy of Chicago's "Looking Glass Theater") I came away with the idea that all the bad stuff in Captain Ahab was projected onto his nemesis, Moby, and that he was willing to sacrifice his ship and crew in a misguided attempt to get rid of the worst in him by convincing himself that the evil resided somewhere else. We psychoanalysts call that "projection."

So when Donald Trump Junior revealed that he had been lying about his involvement with the Russians on behalf of getting his father elected while accusing Hillary of being a liar who would do anything to get herself elected, I finally understood that we've been all been passengers on the Pequod, captained by a club of Ahabs, with Mrs. Clinton playing the part of "White Whale."

It's been a whale hunt since primary season. From the moment an angry Ahab-like Donald Trump told the nation "There's a lot of anger out there, folks!," through the days when a crazed looking Mike Flynn urged convention supporters to "Lock her up," to the revelation this week about the Trump-Russia emails, we've been riding the high seas of Projection, a world where subject and object get reversed and where all statements about whales or whale-equivalents need to be applied to the spokesman.

Now, when our President "tweets," I shall think of each tweet as a harpoon.

I don't think Ahab would have responded well to calling him out in this manner, and we know from our experience that any attempt to confront Trump's crew of whale-hunters with their own tragic destructiveness is guaranteed to turn those doing the confronting into whales themselves. After all, Projection is baked into our human core because, to some extent, it helps us get by, and nobody likes to be told "You're projecting." Just ask any prophet.

In Melville's story, the quest for that whale had disastrous consequences for all on board, with the exception of the narrator, Ishmael, who lived to sound a warning. I don't really know what Melville had in mind, or what LookingGlass had in mind, but thanks to both for holding up this mirror and may we all survive to tell this tale!


On this day, Neal Spira became a whale.





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