One of the great underlying themes of "Moby Dick," Mr. Delbanco observed, "is that people ashore don't want to know about the ugly things that go on at sea."We want our comforts but we don't want to know too much about where they come from or what makes them possible." He added: "The oil spill in the gulf is a horror, but how many Americans are ready to pay more for oil or for making the public investment required to develop alternative energy? I suspect it's a question that Melville would be asking us now."
And second, the Thomas Friedman column, "This Time Is Different," which is also about the impacts of the oil spill and the guilty party, us. This is worth a read.