From Moby Dick:
“Round the world! There is much in that sound to inspire proud feelings; but whereto does all that circumnavigation conduct? Only through numberless perils to the very point whence we started, where those that we left behind secure, were all the time before us.
“Were this world an endless plain, and by sailing eastward we could for ever reach new distances, and discover sights more sweet and strange than any Cyclades or Islands of King Solomon, then there were promise in the voyage. But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed.”
Barren mazes indeed. Think about the dread in a person’s heart in 1840 when slipping lines in Nantucket for a six-month sail to the Antipodes, versus a middle-aged guy sitting in an airport in Providence, about to embark on something which would have seemed as fantasticÂ to Ishmael and Captain Ahab as a Star Trek teleporter would to me.