Consider the whale. And let us take initially the ‘random allusions to whales’ so assiduously collected by Melville’s ‘grubworm of a sub-sub-librarian’ (Melville 1994: 10). These allusions include Hobbes’s ‘great Leviathan’, an attribution that Hobbes almost certainly would not recognize, but one that is by now common and one that is, for present purposes, convenient (Melville 1994: 12, 16). Almost without relief, the librarian’s derivative whale is found to be a creature of dread and untameable power, a solitary ‘King of the boundless sea … where might is right’, as one rousing ‘whale song’would attest (Melville 1994: 20). ‘For the modern world’, however, ‘the whale is a symbol of innocence in an age of threat’ (Hoare 2008: 33). Science becoming more astonishing than mythos, we now know of the intense sociality of the whale, its relating to others across enormous distances (Hoare 2008: 25-27). Or there is the counter-myth of beginnings so beautifully reproduced by Le Clézio, the great gathering in that natal immensity, that ‘secret place’, ‘where the whales went to birth their young’ (Le Clézio 2001: 1). Bringing these opposing versions of the whale now to the standard-issue

conception of Hobbes’s Leviathan, a particularly telling instance can be extracted from Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor in their recent little book, On Kindness (2009). Leviathan for them provides ‘the ur-text’ set against the efficacy of kindness since in it ‘men’ are simply, very simply, ‘savage beasts’ and utterly selfish, having no natural affection for society – the ‘isolated … self’ as against ‘the inherently social’ (Phillips and Taylor 2009: 5, 27-28). These are the sort of ‘men’ completely needful of an all-powerful sovereign Leviathan so as to effect and enforce some degree of enduring sociality. Admittedly, Hobbes would not insist on an animating kindness to facilitate social relation, but his ‘men’ are nonetheless intensely social beings, as we will see.