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'Moby-Dick' to be rewritten in emoticons

An NYU research associate has managed to get funding to rewrite the Herman Melville novel entirely in Japanese emoticons. It ought to make for an inspiring read.

Call me astonished.

But Fred Berenson, a clearly fascinating research associate at New York University, has managed to gain sufficient funding to attempt a project that I feel sure none of you has contemplated.

For Berenson has decided to rewrite a veritable whale of a book, "Moby-Dick," entirely in emoticons.

This enterprising cove used Kickstarter to impress those who might have money to drown in such an eccentric quest.

He describes, with quite fetching enthusiasm, how he intends to turn all 6,438 sentences of the great Herman Melville opus into Japanese Emoji, rather picturesque emoticons that are on most handsets in Japan.

Helpfully, Berenson reminds those interested that you can hack your iPhone in America in order to obtain these rather cutesome works of art.

The largest portion of the raised funds will go to pay for the translation. Berenson will be using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to get three different translations of every sentence. These translations will then be put to a vote, the winning sentence being included in the magnum opus.

I really think there's a market for edible emoticons. CC Srqpix/Flickr

You might, at this point, be wondering why Berenson chose "Moby-Dick." Why not select something a little shorter? Like, well, pretty much every book ever written.

Berenson has an answer. In his Kickstarter plea, he wrote: "I needed a public domain book that I could get the plain-text version of easily. The Bible seemed too obvious. I then wanted something very large and long, so that I could demonstrate the scale possible with Amazon's Mechanical Turk."

Mind you, if he had chosen the Bible, it would surely have been a challenge for the Emoticon Universe to come up with suitable pictures for all the castration, mutilation, pillars of salt, pillage, polygamy, and even parent cursing that goes on between its covers.

By comparison, the exploits of an obstinate overgrown mammal seem rather tame. Still, one's curious thought-for-the-day comprises surprise that a certain coffee enterprise didn't come up with all the money.

For I am told that the first mate on the fateful ship, the Pequod, was actually called Starbuck. Will his emoticon be a weird lady who looks like she's hotfooted it from a Mason's gathering?