I was in my garage late last night changing oil in my car and I came across an old beat up paperback of Moby Dick that was stashed in a box next to the oil filter wrench. One thing led to another and I was 30 chapters deep. I came to the realization that chapter 24 titled “The Advocate” could easily be retitled “The Speculator” and have the word/words “speculator” “wall street” substituted. I will share some samples with the ya’ll:

In the first place, it may be deemed almost superfluous to establish the fact, that among people at large, the business of “speculating” is not accounted on a level with what are called the liberal professions. If a stranger were introduced into any miscellaneous metropolitan society, it would but slightly advance the general opinion of his merits, were he presented to the company as a “speculator”, say; and if in emulation of the “Corporate Presidents (C.E.O.’s)” he should append the initials “C.S (Chief Speculator)” to his visiting card, such a procedure would be deemed pre-eminently presuming and ridiculous. Doubtless one leading reason why the world declines honoring us “speculators”, is this: they think that, at best, our vocation amounts to a butchering sort of business; and that when actively engaged therein, we are surrounded by all manner of defilements. Butchers we are, that is true. But butchers, also, and butchers of the bloodiest badge have been all “CEO’s” whom the world invariably delights to honor. And as for the matter of the alleged uncleanliness of our business, ye shall soon be initiated into certain facts hitherto pretty generally unknown, and which, upon the whole, will triumphantly plant the “speculators chambers” at least among the cleanliest things of this tidy earth. But even granting the charge in question to be true; what disordered “trading desk” of a “speculators chamber” are comparable to the unspeakable carrion of those “cherry desks” from which so many “corporate presidents” return to drink in all ladies’ plaudits? And if the idea of peril so much enhances the popular conceit of the “corporate president’s” profession; let me assure ye that many a “CEO” who has freely “signed quarterly earnings”, would quickly recoil at the apparition of the “Market Mistress’s hand”, “fluctuating his capital up and down with reckless abandon”. For what are the comprehensible terrors of “being a corporate officer” compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of “Speculation”! But, though the world scouts at us “speculators”, yet does it unwittingly pay us the profoundest homage; yea , an all-abounding adoration! For almost all the “TV shows”, “Daily Papers”, “Radio Programs” that spread “market wisdom” around the globe, “shout our language”, as before so many “pulpits”, to our glory!

I will save the last of the chapter for you to read. It is an impressive homage to the whaler or “speculator” as I have taken the liberty to implant. It discusses the heritage forgotten, the lineage of the men, the importance of the risk taken and the rewards reaped by those of the type. I got goose bumps from the reading. It was something I must have forgotten or hadn’t thought of the first few times I’ve read Melville’s masterpiece.

Gibbons Burke replies:

Interesting that you should run across ‘Moby Dick’ yesterday as November 14th was the 155th anniversary of the great novel’s publication.

My favorite chapter is The Castaway, about Pip, who jumps from a whale boat on a sleigh ride and is abandoned to the solitude of the ocean alone:

He is treated to a vision of God, and returns and is adjudged to have gone stark raving mad. Of course, he is also given the gift of prophesy, and like Cassandra, can see what the future holds for the barky.





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