I’ve made the mistake of mentioning to Luke various things I want to write about, and he, being the friend that he is, never lets me forget it. Another Luke wrote something similar, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (Luke 11:8). Coincidence?
That said, I do need to write about some things. One of the things I want to do is to try and frame a picture of introversion that doesn’t rely on me telling you exactly what I mean. I don’t wish to be elusive, or withhold what I’m thinking. Rather, I feel that by laying various literary vignettes of introversion beside one another, we can get closer to an understanding of what I mean.
Today I begin this effort, introducing a new category on my blog. I make no promise as to how frequently I will add to this, but will do so when I come across a passage that seems to sit among the rest. For now I offer this passage from “Moby Dick”
They say that men who have seen the world, thereby become quite at ease in manner, quite self-possessed in company. Not always, though: Ledyard, the great New England traveller, and Mungo Park, the Scotch one; of all men, they possessed the least assurance in the parlor. But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by dogs as Ledyard did, or the taking a long solitary walk on an empty stomach, in the negro heart of Africa, which was the sum of poor Mungo’s performances— this kind of travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of attaining a high social polish. Still, for the most part, that sort of thing is to be had anywhere.
These reflections just here are occasioned by the circumstance that after we were all seated at the table, and I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling; to my no small surprise nearly every man maintained a profound silence. And not only that, but they looked embarrassed. Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of whom without the slightest bashfulness had boarded great whales on the high seas—entire strangers to them— and duelled them dead without winking; and yet, here they sat at a social breakfast table—all of the same calling, all of kindred tastes—looking round as sheepishly at each other as though they had never been out of sight of some sheepfold among the Green Mountains. A curious sight; these bashful bears, these timid warrior whalemen! [chp 5 - Breakfast]