How do we learn things that make us who we are?
What was the process that you, as a youngster, accumulated the cultural knowledge that you possess as an adult?
I have no idea as to the answer to those questions, but I do have a story that highlights that mechanism, so please, Madames and Monsieurs, put your hands together and welcome to the stage, once again, my middle child, Jared.
Out of absolutely nowhere last week, Jared announced he wanted to see the movie Moby Dick. Thrown a bit, I did manage to ask if he wanted to see the Gregory Peck version (1956) or the Patrick Stewart interpretation (1988). He said he did not care and he himself took the initiative and found a DVD of the 1956 version (whose screenplay was written by science fiction legend Ray Bradbury by the way) which he watched and enjoyed.
Later, I was trying to figure out where his desire to see Ahab, Starbuck, and Queequeg on the screen came from and I was able to track his request to a pair of items.
First, my brown-haired son enjoys playing computer games online such as those from Miniclip and Addicting Games. One of those games he played a few weeks ago is entitled “Moby Dick” and in it you play the great white whale as you smash boats and eat harpooners.
Second, last month, Jared and I enjoyed a wonderful father-son bonding experience as we watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. For me, this is my favorite of the Star Trek movies and I was happy to share it with Jared. Near the end of the movie, Khan (Ricardo Montalban) begins to quote a passage from Moby-Dick (“From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee”). I let Jared know where Khan was quoting from.
So, given two separate references to Herman Melville’s work, Jared took it upon himself to delve closer to the source material. Good for him.
Maybe he’ll tackle the book next, but I wouldn’t want him to become too obsessed over it.
Obsession is a tricky thing. Just ask Khan and Ahab.