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Thread: Moby!

  1. #76
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Ya know, I liked the Cetology chapter. I liked reading the cutting edge science of the day. The details and comparisons of whales might get a little tedious when they've got a sperm whale head hoisted up on one side of the ship and a right whale head on the other. In general though the information-type chapters act as break between the wild-action chapters or deep-philosophy chapters. Kinda gives the reader a break. Besides it's clear Melville is passionate about his subject, and it's always fun to listen to someone who's excited about what he's talking about, even if the subject is a little nerdy, even if it's something I care nothing about. It's just fun to be carried away by somebody else's enthusiasm. When Ishmael starts going on and on about whales, I can't help but to be reminded of John C. Reilly in What's Eating Gilbert Grape going on and on about the Burger Barn.
    Uhhhh...

  2. #77
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    Sancho I just posted on the old "sport desk" thread. I hope you'll take a look.

    but I wanted to share something from there, here, in hope that more people (all five or six of us) might see it:

    I think one of the absolute best things ive recently discovered on YouTube is a channel called "like stories of old" and I think anyone who likes stories would do really well to check it out.

    https://www.youtube.com/@LikeStoriesofOld

    the one im watching now is "Venturing into Sacred Space | Archetype of the Magician"

    I recently watched "Lighting the Beacons, and Other Perfect Movie Metaphors" and it was fantastic.
    Last edited by bounty; 12-05-2023 at 08:07 PM.

  3. #78
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Sounds fun. I'll check it out. It does seem like there's only a handful of people on this website any more. Honestly though seems like forums are atrophying all over the web. I'll go on forums seeking info on car maintenance or dendrology or some darned thing and there's a few folks who post things regularly and then there's a bunch of lurkers seeking answers to specific questions. On this website it's usually folks looking for answers to homework questions. Fair warning here — anybody looking for help on their homework, El Sancho was a C- student. And that was on a good day.

    Yes, well, so anyway, speaking of the cutting-edge science of the day in Moby Dick, I was sort of wondering if Ishmael would ever get around to the phrenology of whales. And, WHOOP, dere it is, Chapter 80, The Nut.
    Uhhhh...

  4. #79
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link, bounty,I'm going to check it out.
    Forums are drying out indeed Sancho probably because of the social nets. I think the homeworkers of Litnet have also wandered away. What I sometimes see is spammers, very eager to enter the forum.

    As for old Ismael, I would like to have contributed more, but I forgot almost all, including the humorous early chapters.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  5. #80
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    I hope you guys will indeed visit "like stories of old." I find myself wishing the guy would put all his narration into a book.

    here's the book im planning to get that have inspired some of the videos:

    https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-he...6&idiq=1004430

    Sancho---have you been to boston before? theres a fair amount of revolutionary war stuff you might enjoy visiting.
    Last edited by bounty; 12-06-2023 at 07:13 AM.

  6. #81
    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Ch 34 Cabin Table

    Interesting chapter. Ahab and his officers settle down to dinner - they are described in royal terms with words such as sultan, Emir, Grand Turk, as "King" Ahab. They are served much like royal dinners equated with terms such as "Coronation" and Imperial Electors. All except Flask enjoy a generous portion of the food. I wonder if the name "flask" was intentional as it appears to be symbolize an empty vessel or container. It is shown that he was the last one served, got the least amount of food, immediately stopped eating when Ahab did so, did not dare reach for the butter as if he was of an inferior rank and situated here well above his rank, and he left the table hungry. "Flask once admitted in private, that ever since he had arisen to the dignity of an officer, from that moment h had never known what it was to be otherwise than hungry". Up to that time he had been well fed and now longs for the day that he could return to such fulfilling times. Everyone remains in total silence as this was how Ahab had his food. Everything is so rigid, so regimented. One last note here: Starbucks, the most rebellious of the officer gets the biggest portion. Flask the most submissive gets the smallest portion. Great irony when you think about it.

    Then the harpooners enter to eat. By contrast, they are a garrulous lot, take great delight in teasing servant Dough Boy who hides away to avoid the bullying, and they eat like the "barbarians" that they are.

    Remarkable contrast!

    Ahab leaves the cabin and goes to his private quarters, the barbarians to theirs, and Dough Boy to his small closet. The cabin is no place for socializing as "in the cabin was no companionship". Chapter ends with an image of a solitary bear in a den hibernating for winter in "gloom".

    And what of the regular crew members? We never know ...
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  7. #82
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    I liked that scene, too. It was like a hoity-toity, black tie dinner with a wait staff and world-class cook serving food nobody really wants to eat and the only sound in the dining room being the occasional clink of a fork against a plate. Meanwhile the staff is out back, grilling up some juicy burgers and yukking it up. Or maybe it was little like scene in Don Quixote where Sancho finally gets his Isla and theyíre serving him a meal thatís fit for the governor, but before he gets a chance to take a bite they snatch it away from him. Or maybe, just maybe, the contrast was like Jake and Elwood in the French restaurant trying to get Mr Fabulous back in the band.

    ďWrong glass, sir.Ē
    https://youtu.be/WJY2VnTcfK8?si=uTrskyrKV2wS4TL1

    Thanks, bounty, actually I go to Boston semi-regularly. I mean, címon, thatís where Fenway is. Iíve seen the USS Constitution float by, but Iíve never been on it. Iím not even sure the museum is open this time of year. If itís closed Iíll just have to go to Mikeís in the North End. I know theyíre open. This time of year thereíll be a line of people down the sidewalk waiting for cannolis. A couple of years ago a coworker and I went to the Tea Party Museum in Boston. Tea Party in the sense of Sam Adams and the boys dumping several tons of East India tea into the Boston harbor, not the moron faction of the Republican party waving their guns around. Anyway after the museum we did a very American thing: we got COFFEE. At a STARBUCKS.

    Speaking of Starbuck, Iím about three quarters of the way through Moby and the 1st mate has been pretty quiet. He stays in the background, the steady voice of reason. And speaking of the U.S. war for independence, Melville/Ishmael seems to have a low opinion of Europeans. First thereís the inept German whaler, the Jurgenfrau that canít seem to catch a whale, then thereís the French whaler, the Rosebud that is moored to a stinking, rotting whale carcass, trying to extract oil from it. I wonder if weíll come across a British ship.

    You know, come to think of it, I need to dig through the books in my basement and find the most low-brow among them. Then Iíll affix them with Book Crossing stickers and spread them around Harvardís campus next week. Itís only a short walk from were we stay over the Charles to Cambridge.
    Uhhhh...

  8. #83
    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Sancho,

    I went to the Tea Party Museum in Boston. Tea Party in the sense of Sam Adams and the boys dumping several tons of East India tea into the Boston harbor, not the moron faction of the Republican party waving their guns around. Anyway after the museum we did a very American thing: we got COFFEE. At a STARBUCKS.


    Starbucks? According to Boston Dad that is sacrilege if you're from Boston. According to him, you MUST go to Dunky Dunks:


    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  9. #84
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Haha! Get that kid a Seahawks jersey. I live in the PNW. Iíll have a Venti Pikeís. (20 ounce coffee) Stumptown Coffee works too. Lodge Dunkin? Pítooey!
    Uhhhh...

  10. #85
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    if you will be there again in the future for a fair length of time, after reading moby, you might enjoy venturing over to Nantucket and hitting up the whaling museum there.

  11. #86
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    when I read gone with the wind not too long ago I used an already existing thread on the book. seeing the old moby threads posted below in "similar threads" reminded me of that and I just went and visited one:

    "Need help with Moby Dick.

    "Okay, maybe I am just not smart enough for this book but why does anybody think Moby Dick was a good book. I seriously think it should have been titled everything you never wanted to know about early 19th century whaling.

    "There is just about enough story development in this giant book to make a small novella or a large short story. But good God, does any non-cetation bioligist want to read hundreds of pages about the difference between butchering different kinds of whales? Or how about the long winded lecture in which we learn of property laws when a dead whale with harpoons in it washes up on a beach (an event that does not even happen in the story proper.) Sure Ahab is an intresting character, but he does not make it worth it.

    "Somebody please tell me why this is a good book."

    more later...

  12. #87
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    That right there is the main criticism of the book ó too much detail about stuff that doesn't matter. A close second is ó the prose is way overblown. Seems like it's been getting both criticisms regularly since it was published. I look at this way: it's quirky, but it is what it is. I mean all that whale detail is part of makes Moby Dick, Moby Dick. I've been taking the US Army approach to it ó embrace the suck.

    I've actually enjoyed a lot of details. I mean I know nothing a out the mechanics of whaling, so I found that part fascinating. As near as I can figure it's like sport fishing only on a titanic scale. When a fish gets hooked, he gonna run. When fishing for rainbows with 4 lb test my thumb is the drag on the line. When fishing for halibut with a conventional Penn reel there's a star gear on the side that adjusts the drag on the line. You hook a big one, he gonna run, and you gonna need to crank down on the drag or that fish gonna run you out of line in no time. Extrapolate that to whale size and you get a sense for what the whalers were dealing with. On one of the chases Stubb was paying out the line (Manilla rope for a whale) and his hands wound up acting as the drag. Ouch!

    There are so many details in the book that if I find myself wondering if such-and-such will be covered, and the book never disappoints. A while back I wondered if Ismael would ever get around to doing a phrenological analysis of a whale, and there it was. Then a few posts ago I wondered if the Pequod would ever come across an British ship, and here it is. An Arm and a Leg chapter. Talk about juxtaposition! It's almost as though this chapter was workshopped in some writer's program in middle America. Ahab lost a leg to Moby. The English captain, Boomer, lost an arm to Moby. Ahab vowed revenge. Boomer chalked it up to a lesson well learned. It goes on and on.

    It made me wonder if Hemingway got his idea for Jake Barnes from Ahab. Jake lost a pretty important part of himself in WWI. But Jake dealt with it differently.
    Uhhhh...

  13. #88
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Moby Dick isnīt just a book. Itīs a particular world with itīs particular laws and you can be almost swallowed by it. Or not. You can put an cautious toe into it and say: "Heck, this is not for it."
    I have two southsee novels by Melwille, "Omoo" and "Typhee" (hope the spelling is correct). They didnīt held me.
    But "Moby Dick" is a saga that IMO goes far beyond itself.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  14. #89
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    Starbuck





    Starbuck ~ first mate. Second in command. Big character foil to Captain Ahab. Pragmatist. Ishmael tells us he is a Quaker and native of Nantucket. He had lost his father and brother at sea. Devout but superstitious. Possessed of "sobriety and fortitude". Very cautious. "I am here to kill whales, not to be killed by them."

    Earlier we met Bildad and Peleg (retired mariners) who were the Quaker owners of the Pequod. Both were tyrannical and materialistic. They abused and overworked their crew members. Starbuck spoke softly to his crew members and was restrained in dealing with them. Ahab was demanding (he compelled his men to pledge their very lives in serving him in his quest to kill the whale), unwise, like the biblical tyrants he was equated with in the book, refused to listen to wise counsel - this to his doom. He did not subscribe to any particular religion but may have been influenced by a Far Eastern cult. Starbuck faithfully adhered to Christian influence. "Revenge not yourself. I will repay saith the Lord." [Romans 12:19] He is only 30 years of age but is highly experienced, widely traveled, and is a highly capable sea master. He steadfastly and honorably clings to the mission's aim which was to secure oil for the stock owners of the Pequod and to secure a decent profit.

    Starbuck continually argues against Ahab's evil obsession in searching for the whale in order to kill him. At some point he considers mutiny and in killing his errant Captain. But he either lacks the courage or is morally hampered by his religion. Eventually he succumbs to Ahab's controlling "coerced will" [p 175]. When they disembark and go into the water to fight the sea creatures he demonstrates good seamanship [p 183] as he was "by far the most careful and prudent" commander.

    In an exchange with another vessel he delivers a dead letter which presages doom [p 252]. Starbuck vainly tries to keep Ahab mindful of the vessel's leakage (which is damaging the vessel and causing a loss of revenue) but the one track minded Captain dismisses all such talk [p 362]. "There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord of the Pequod - on deck". [p 363] So much haughtiness while Starbuck remains ever so humble.

    When caught in a typhoon Starbuck notes that the wind is driving from the east. That this could be a ready means of getting back home in order to secure safety for all. Ahab will have none of it which spells doom for Starbuck. Then he says "if thou are a brave man thou wilt hold they peace" rather than argue with the obstinate and crazed captain. [p 382]

    He sees St Elmo's Fire [p 383] and warns that this is an ill omen. He gives more warnings to Ahab but is ignored. He engages in a 'doom and gloom' soliloquy as he muses whether he should kill the captain, knowing that the latter would kill him and the entire crew. "Would I be a murderer?" if he followed through on his thoughts.

    He gives more warnings in vain. And you know the rest ...

    "Oh Captain, my Captain" ~ I guess this is where Whitman gleaned these words.

    Starbuck represents Christian deference, morality, rationality, humility, and stoicism in the face of this evil, chaotic world, and violent world. Had his wise counsel been adhered to all would have been turned out well = the men would live, the vessel returned home in one piece, its stockholders would have gotten oil profit revenues, and perhaps there could have been more profitable voyages in the future for the crew members, Captains, officers, and the vessel. Ahab's evil refusal to adhere to his wisdom caused the disaster that befell everyone. Thankfully one sailor survived to give us the narrative and, hopefully, we will all learn valuable life lessons from his fate.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  15. #90
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    Mocha Dick

    The real life inspiration for Moby Dick:






    https://www.kuloluna.com/Books_Kulo_...ing_Ships.html


    The greatest whale of them all was an albino male first spotted by man close off Mocha Island. Unlike the whale that sunk the Essex, this one displayed behaviour so inexplicable in terms of ethology that, to this day, no academic has ever attempted an explanation. This sperm whale had, not one point of human observation, but data from more than a hundred encounters, each with multiple witnesses. Though scholars might have placed this animal in the Ďtoo hardí basket, the same cannot be said of the nineteenth century whalers and general public.

    Such was his status that it was said that when whaling vessels rounding the Horn in the 1830s, sailors exchanged stories and updates of little else. One bestselling book was written about him.

    In the nineteenth century, whaling ships didnít attack their prey directly, but sent out smaller boats with harpooners. Thus a moderately clever whale who had seen it all before would be able to distinguish whalers from other ships, and to recognise when they were on the hunt. Mocha Dick must have at least made that association, as it was these longboats that he habitually joined as they made their way towards pods of females.

    Mochaís approach is often described as in the manner of a friend, whose only sin was to try to maneuver them away from their work. In general, it seemed that he would only attack if they tried to harpoon the great whale himself, to which purpose he was always very careful to expose only the least vulnerable parts of his body (especially his tail) to their weapons. If attacked in person, he would then proceed to splinter their longboats with his powerful flukes. Most whalers knew better, with at least 80% of encounters running without incident.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

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