The 2023 Moby-Dick Marathon, Put On by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Part II

Read Part I first.

Chapter 5: The Ending

I had considered going to the overnight portion of the marathon, but resolved that if I couldn’t sleep, I’d make my way over. It turned out I slept well enough, and checked out of the hotel just in time to make the discussion with the scholars. On the first day, the moderator didn’t ask my question, but I knew I have another chance. At this morning’s discussion, where the seats were placed in the shape of a whale, I was one of the first to ask a question/make a comment. I actually chose to point out how funny Moby-Dick is, as evidenced by the laughter from the audience. That comment was well-received! One of the scholars sat next to me, and during the discussion, she mentioned the Melville’s Marginalia Online website (which was part of my question) so I took that to mean I wouldn’t ask the audience but would save it for her. So I did, and it emerged why there wasn’t a particular book listed on that website. it was because he didn’t actually own a copy (he lists two books as one book in his “Extracts” section, another she told me that I didn’t know). I asked her the meat of the question, and she seemed to think it’s a good enough question to write a short article about, and she encouraged me to do just that. She said she wanted me to keep in touch about it, even. Yet another project to add to the list!

What was the question? Well, you’ll have to read my forthcoming article to find out!

I had some time in the morning to wander around New Bedford, and after that, I ended up walking by the coffee shop next to the hotel, and had a nice brunch there. I’m sure the European café-style diner with a 25-minute wait is great, but I’ll do that next trip.

I returned to the museum just in time to read along with the ending of the book. Spoiler alert: It’s [the three chapters where the crew of The Pequod, including Captain Ahab, meet their doom], and he says his famous line “from hell's heart I stab at thee!” (which I probably heard first from The Simpsons). The reader of those chapters, Henry Sullivan, acted out Ahab’s voice, and it was incredibly stirring as one would expect such a scene to be.

Chapter 6: Back to Boston

Without much left to do in New Bedford, I got my bag. I have social anxiety in most situations, but the desire to know something often overcomes that. If you stay through the night and read along, for all 25 hours, you get a prize package. It sounded like this was verified with a stamp partway through, because it can’t be on the honour system. I saw a couple of people with the prize pack at the hotel, but they disapeared around the cornee before I could talk to them. As luck would have it, as I was fretting about how to get back to Boston, I saw them again, and caught their eye, and asked “Got any pro tips for staying the whole time?” They had lots! Like to expect to close your eyes and open them up later and find yourself 5 pages behind. Micro-naps, one of them called it. And nobody will blame you if you need fresh air. And don’t expect to be ina conduction to drive the next day. (They’re staying overnight tonight.) One benefit, they said, was that a sleep-deprived mind will make connections you won’t normally make between one part of the book and another. Such great tips! I got the sense that they wanted to keep talking, and I wanted to keep talking to them, too, but I had to focus on how to get out of town and back to Boston.

The first Uber driver asked me to cancel and try someone else. I wasn’t about to force anybody to do such a long fare, so I agreed. That cost me $5, though. I sort of feel in a bind about that. I’m not going to lose sleep over that, and I wonder if the driver felt better off rejecting it? Anyway, I had a problem to solve, so for the next driver, I sent a message saying I’d tip generously for the hour-plus-long drive. He agreed, and it was an uneventful, and hopefully the 20% tip is generous. I’m thinking of sending more, which I still have the chance to do. I made it to my hotel for tonight, so I got what I needed.

Traveling between Boston and New Bedford was the part I was most worried about for the trip, and it actually went worse than I thought it would. I’ll need to plan this better for next time. Maybe I could help organize a ride-share if the bus situation is the same next year.

Lots to think about, lots to process about this short trip. This was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had for a trip, and despite the mishaps, I’ve been really happy with it.