What is in a name?

The blog name of this website was taken out of Moby Dick3:

A Quote from Moby Dick -- Chapter 8, The Pulpit:

I had not been seated very long ere a man of a certain venerable robustness entered; immediately as the storm-pelted door flew back upon admitting him, a quick regardful eyeing of him by all the congregation, sufficiently attested that this fine old man was the chaplain. Yes, it was the famous Father Mapple, so called by the whalemen, among whom he was a very great favourite. He had been a sailor and a harpooneer in his youth, but for many years past had dedicated his life to the ministry. At the time I now write of, Father Mapple was in the hardy winter of a healthy old age; that sort of old age which seems merging into a second flowering youth, for among all the fissures of his wrinkles, there shone certain mild gleams of a newly developing bloom—the spring verdure peeping forth even beneath February's snow. No one having previously heard his history, could for the first time behold Father Mapple without the utmost interest, because there were certain engrafted clerical peculiarities about him, imputable to that adventurous maritime life he had led. When he entered I observed that he carried no umbrella, and certainly had not come in his carriage, for his tarpaulin hat ran down with melting sleet, and his great pilot cloth jacket seemed almost to drag him to the floor with the weight of the water it had absorbed. However, hat and coat and overshoes were one by one removed, and hung up in a little space in an adjacent corner; when, arrayed in a decent suit, he quietly approached the pulpit

Like most old fashioned pulpits, it was a very lofty one, and since a regular stairs to such a height would, by its long angle with the floor, seriously contract the already small area of the chapel, the architect, it seemed, had acted upon the hint of Father Mapple, and finished the pulpit without a stairs, substituting a perpendicular side ladder, like those used in mounting a ship from a boat at sea. The wife of a whaling captain had provided the chapel with a handsome pair of red worsted man-ropes for this ladder, which, being itself nicely headed, and stained with a mahogany colour, the whole contrivance, considering what manner of chapel it was, seemed by no means in bad taste. Halting for an instant at the foot of the ladder, and with both hands grasping the ornamental knobs of the man-ropes, Father Mapple cast a look upwards, and then with a truly sailor-like but still reverential dexterity, hand over hand, mounted the steps as if ascending the main-top of his vessel

The perpendicular parts of this side ladder, as is usually the case with swinging ones, were of cloth-covered rope, only the rounds were of wood, so that at every step there was a joint. At my first glimpse of the pulpit, it had not escaped me that however convenient for a ship, these joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary. For I was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining the height, slowly turn round, and stooping over the pulpit, deliberately drag up the ladder step by step, till the whole was deposited within, leaving him impregnable in his little Quebec.

I would say that Father Mapple has everyone's attention.
Father Mapple As for the phrasing "impregnable in his little Quebec", let's take a look at what he was referencing on the map: citadelle de quebec

The Citadelle is located where it is because it has a number of high slopes defending its sides.
Citadelle de Quebec It was built by the French to defend New France from invasion.

The Citadelle was not impregnable at all; it wasn't constructed properly. On Sept 13th 1757, it was impregnated by the British. To belabour this metaphor; Canada later swelled and bloomed into and English nation.

Had Louis XIV of France not been so short sighted, this blog might be written entirely in the French language: The original, proposed properly-defensible Citadelle design was turned down by King Louis XIV because it was "too costly". How much would you pay for the second largest land mass in the world? Had the citadel been built properly the French might have repelled the English from successfully invading this territory, and Canada might have stayed French.

After World War II, the great Charles de Gaulle was quoted as saying that the French had "abandoned" New France to the British during the seven year's war (circa 1757).1 He also lamented the Anglo Saxon hegemony emerging from the ashes of the 1940's.

So he decided to cause a little bit of trouble. In 1967 he announced from a Montreal balcony:

Viva Le Quebec Libre!

The message came a bit late, but you can't blame him for trying.

As you can see from the video, his message caused a little bit of hustle bustle with the Quebec neo-nationalists, but it was not so well received by the federalist powers of Canada. The federalist custodians responded with phrasing too boring to mention.2 So Charles de Gaulle's dream of uniting a sovereign Quebec with France in some sort of north Atlantic-political bond, amounted to nothing -- at least in the twentieth century.

Getting back to Moby dick, and the link I provided to its annotation. The picture on lit genius is wrong. This was pointed out by a friend of mine who used to live near the Citadelle. What makes this picture especially offensive to the French, is that it is a photograph of a puny English building on the other side of the Saint Lawrence river.

Sometimes crowd sourced documentation gets it wrong, but Moby Dick is a great book. It is a kind of pounding rock opera -- a hard driving story weaved from the masculine energies of the men of old. If you would like to read it, you can, it's here

If you would rather listen to it, I highly recommend the version read by William Hootkins.

If you would like to hear some moby-metal based on the book, give this a listen:

  1. Remembering 1759 The conquest of Canada in Historical Memory http://www.amazon.ca/Remembering-1759-Conquest-Canada-Historical/dp/1442612517

  2. In Canada, "boring" is a kind of political currency. Our standing Prime Minister Stephen Harper purposely removes all of the "interesting" parts of his speeches, and purposely does not eat in public -- because someone might snap a photograph of him putting a mini-wiener into his mouth on a fork. I don't care what my face book feed says, Stephen Harper is an extremely intelligent and self disciplined man. It takes a lot of mettle to remain boring especially when you aren't a boring person. The conservatives understand that they need to remain boring, because the federally funded CBC (media corporation) is actively and yet subversively trying to have them removed from power. At least that is what I would do if I were running the CBC.