Later this morning I’ll be giving the last lecture of my Conversations of the West class, wrapping up the course’s treatment of how Moby-Dick engages with its cultural inheritances from the ancient Greek, Biblical, and early modern English traditions. I’ll try to tie it all in the end to what Barack Obama calls “deliberative democracy,” in which “all citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality, persuading others of their point of view, and building shifting alliances of consent.” (As we’ve noted here before, Moby-Dick is reputedly Obama’s favorite novel.) “Deliberative democracy,” which Obama writes about in The Audacity of Hope, sounds a lot like the conception of cosmopolitanism that we’ve been exploring in my course: in fact, you could think of it as applied cosmopolitanism.
The last word will go, however, to someone whom I suspect very few of you have heard of, the post-punk laptop rapper MC Lars. I’ll show his music video, Ahab, which you can watch below. Fans of Moby-Dick will be impressed, I think, by just how well Lars’s song gets at major ideas in the novel.
But that won’t be the last song of the course: that honor goes, of course, to Led Zeppelin.