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Thread: Moby!

  1. #31
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    sancho, tailor, a quick thought as the thread progresses---moby is often put out there as both a great novel, and a great American novel. i don't take the latter qualifier in the geographical sense, but rather a philosophical one. I hope you guys will provide a critique of moby's "greatness" at the end of the thread. and if moby is indeed a great "American" novel, I hope they'll be some insight into that also.

  2. #32
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    I am the greatest!
    Fifteen times I have told the clown what round heís going down
    And this chump ainít no different
    Heíll fall in eight to prove that Iím great
    And if he keeps talking jive, Iím gonna cut it to five

    ó Muhammad Ali, 1964, before the world championship fight with Sonny Liston

    I not sure Iím the guy to pass judgment on the greatness, philosophically speaking, of a work of literature. Iíll leave that to Harold Bloom. Although Iíd sure like to hear your opinion on the subject, bounty.

    As for American-ness, so far Iím finding that little slice of America that was 19th century New England whaling to be fascinating. The two owners of the Pequod, Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad, illustrate how the Quaker ethic philosophy is at odds with the economic forces driving the whaling business. Peleg is a pragmatist while Bildad tries hard to maintain his religiosity. Each has chosen to live in his own reality. Whoís fooling who? I liked the scene when theyíre outfitting the boat; Bildad is supervising and insists that the sailors refrain from singing any bawdy sea shanties. Of course the sailors immediately launch into one, a tune about the ladies down at Booble Alley. Bildad meanwhile sort of mumbles a psalm to himself.

    Ishmael points out the hypocrisy of a man of faith engaging in the whaling industry:


    For some of these same Quakers are the most sanguinary of all sailors and whale-hunters. They are fighting Quakers; they are Quakers with a vengeance.
    Ö
    Though refusing, from conscientious scruples, to bear arms against land invaders, yet himself had illimitably invaded the Atlantic and Pacific; and though a sworn foe to human bloodshed, yet had he in his straight-bodied coat, spilled tuns upon tuns of leviathan gore.
    Ö
    very probably he had long since come to the sage and sensible conclusion that a manís religion is one thing, and this practical world quite another.
    This seems all too present to me. Arenít economic forces often at odds with what we think of as our national virtues? Isnít capitalism often at odds with democracy? Iím thinking of Perdue Pharma and the national opioid crisis, among other things.

    BTW, Iím sure you know, Sonny Liston failed to answer the bell in the seventh.
    Uhhhh...

  3. #33
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    that reminds me ive forgotten to look for my cliffnotes.

    I have a pretty good collection of boxing biographies, including a small bunch of Muhammad ali. I was going to mention one earlier when poppin was talking about the influence of Frederick douglass on Melville---I have a book that traced the intersecting lives of joe louis and jesse owens.

    your mentioning liston made me think of the second bout that created the most famous photo of ali and probably one of the most iconic sports shots. the photo and story behind it:

    https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports...cfb494eb0a924d

    I hadn't remembered this but in my looking for the story above, I read a piece that according to liston, it was his corner that stopped the fight, he didn't want to.

    capitalism and democracy aside (too much for this thread id argue), I don't see a contradiction between quakers being conscientious objectors when it comes to war and providing for themselves and their families by being willing to kill animals, the distinction among other things, being a biblical one. after the fall of man, god says:

    "the fear and dread of you will fall on every living creature on the earth, every bird of the air, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are delivered into your hand. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you; just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you all things." gen 9:2-3

    some Christian faiths espouse and encourage vegetarianism but to my knowledge, none of them have that as a requirement for belonging.
    plus, early quaker emigration and conversion took place primarily in new England, id have to guess that so much of what went on there had to do with whaling and fishing.

    given that, I disagree with something poppin said earlier, that "the whaling industry was condemned in its time for defiling Nature, leading to butchery of sea life which was characterized as "unclean" and "defiling."" its possible some people thought and said as much, but its hard to reconcile that as a general sentiment with wiki saying "The industry peaked in 1846–1852..."

    the possible exception to that, clued in by the words "unclean" and "defiling" might have come from overly mosaic law/Levitical type sub-cultures, but that's contrary to the freedom given in salvation by faith...

  4. #34
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Well thatís just it. The zeal of spilling ďtuns upon tuns of leviathan goreĒ goes a tad further than providing for oneís self and oneís family, eh?

    So hereís a huge caveat to anything I have to say about the Bible ó Iíve never really read it. Iíve skimmed it. Iíve read random pages of it from those books the Gideons put in hotel rooms. Reading randomly is the way to go with the Bible, IMHO. Whenever Iíve tried to read it from front to back, I bog down at the ďbegatsĒ. Anyway the way I understand it from Genesis, God gave man dominion over all the critters, but he also implored us to be good stewards of his creation - Earth. Give a little, take a little. Killing all the sperm whales will probably put you in an uncomfortable position at the pearly gates.

    In the end of course it was fossil fuels that killed the whaling industry not any kind of environmental outcry or human restraint.

    You know, I found a picture of Sonny Liston standing over Floyd Patterson from a few years earlier that looks a lot like the one of Ali standing over him. What comes around, goes around.
    Uhhhh...

  5. #35
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hellsapoppin View Post
    Second, re juxtaposition, I would also add Elijah the Prophet (Ch 19) as contrasted with Sister Charity (Ch 20). The former being a scammer, a phony, all "ragged". By contrast the latter was thoughtful, conscientious, and helped to prep the vessel for its long voyage with every manner of comfort to facilitate safety and cleanliness.
    Uh, I donít know, man. Elijah, although nuttier than a sh*thouse rat, might be someone the boys should pay attention to. Just saying.

    But I get where youíre coming from. Bildadís sister, Aunt Charity, though a minor character, certainly does exude the aura of goodness. The character names are all loaded in this book, eh? She even gave me the sense of the shipís company as family when she passed the last few items to the crew before they shoved off:

    Charity had come off in a whale-boat, with her last gift ó a nightcap for Stubb, the second mate, her brother-in-law, and a spare Bible for the steward
    ó chapter 22, Merry Christmas

    Speaking of names being loaded, Elijah, to me, has Ezekiel energy.

    https://youtu.be/7dpBnTThEns?si=U9M9qyTM0yH8Uckf

    I donít suppose Herman Melville had a chance to watch Pulp Fiction.
    Uhhhh...

  6. #36
    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    Well thatís just it. The zeal of spilling ďtuns upon tuns of leviathan goreĒ goes a tad further than providing for oneís self and oneís family, eh?

    So hereís a huge caveat to anything I have to say about the Bible ó Iíve never really read it. Iíve skimmed it. Iíve read random pages of it from those books the Gideons put in hotel rooms. Reading randomly is the way to go with the Bible, IMHO. Whenever Iíve tried to read it from front to back, I bog down at the ďbegatsĒ. Anyway the way I understand it from Genesis, God gave man dominion over all the critters, but he also implored us to be good stewards of his creation - Earth. Give a little, take a little. Killing all the sperm whales will probably put you in an uncomfortable position at the pearly gates.



    There are many verses in the Bible which command good stewardship:

    https://www.biblestudytools.com/topi...t-stewardship/
    https://www.ligonier.org/learn/artic...al-stewardship



    At creation, the mandate that God gave to humanity was for people to reflect and mirror Godís stewardship over this sphere of creation. This involves far more than religious enterprises or the church. It has to do with how we engage in scientific endeavors, how we do business, how we treat each other, how we treat animals, and how we treat the environment. That dominion over the earth is not a license to exploit, pillage, consume, or destroy the earth; it is a responsibility to exercise stewardship over our home by working and keeping it. Working and keeping oneís home means preventing it from falling apart, keeping it orderly, maintaining it, preserving it, and making it beautiful. The whole science of ecology is rooted and grounded in this principle. God didn't say, ďFrom now on, all of your food will fall to you out of heaven.Ē He said, ďYou are to work with Me in being productive: dressing, tilling, planting, replenishing, and so on.Ē





    Harken unto me unworthy sinners!
    Do not kill baby seals, whales, or manatees!
    There are better alternatives in which to satisfy thy wicked vanities!
    Repent of your sins and be ye good stewards of this Precious Earth!
    If ye not repent, hellacious Perdition will be thy eternal fate!!!
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  7. #37
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "Do not kill baby seals, whales, or manatees" I like this one.
    "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

  8. #38
    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    "Do not kill baby seals, whales, or manatees" I like this one.


    I believe there's a tale about an Ancient Mariner who unwisely killed an albatross to his peril and to that of his mates. Been a long while since I read that poem and will have to check for what fate awaited him.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  9. #39
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    Well that’s just it. The zeal of spilling “tuns upon tuns of leviathan gore” goes a tad further than providing for one’s self and one’s family, eh?

    ...Anyway the way I understand it from Genesis, God gave man dominion over all the critters, but he also implored us to be good stewards of his creation - Earth. Give a little, take a little. Killing all the sperm whales will probably put you in an uncomfortable position at the pearly gates.

    In the end of course it was fossil fuels that killed the whaling industry not any kind of environmental outcry or human restraint.

    You know, I found a picture of Sonny Liston standing over Floyd Patterson from a few years earlier that looks a lot like the one of Ali standing over him. What comes around, goes around.
    I agree, the image is a gross one, but I don't agree necessarily that it goes beyond providing for one's family. not to be dismissive, but whales weigh tons, that's the work of whalers, and the ship has dozens of people on it doing likewise (providing for ones family). its especially the case if all the whale was used. though it would be interesting to read some first hand accounts of Christian whalers at the time to see how they handled the scope and if there were any prickings of conscience. that said, I think the idea of Christian stewardship of the earth and everything in it, though mentioned in genesis, is unfortunately a more modern sensibility than an older one and too many unchecked depredations have occurred throughout history.

    from afar, Floyd Patterson has always struck me as a good man, id read a bio on him if I ever found one.

    a quick response to albatross being mentioned. ive not read Coleridge's "the rime of the ancient mariner" so I don't know what befalls the characters in the story, but Coleridge's selection of an albatross would have been because the bird was sacred amongst seafaring people. we get the phrase "an albatross around one's neck" from that poem.

  10. #40
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Here is a link to the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834)
    BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE:https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe...r-text-of-1834

    "He prayeth best, who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
    For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all."

    It is also about the implications of an animal hunt. But differently as the White Whale the bird in Coleridgeīs poem is seen as a sort of heavenly messenger
    "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

  11. #41
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hellsapoppin View Post
    I believe there's a tale about an Ancient Mariner who unwisely killed an albatross to his peril and to that of his mates. Been a long while since I read that poem and will have to check for what fate awaited him.
    Itīs a beautiful poem, poppin. I put the link on #40 because the poem is large. Some parallels there to Moby Dick.
    "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

  12. #42
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    I agree, guys, that is a beautiful poem.

    I also agree with you, bounty, itís a slippery slope to look at a group of people from a historical period and make a moral judgement about them using modern sensibilities and informed by a knowledge of science and history we have that they didnít. I forget which philosopher said it, but it was something like ó every generation of philosophers stands on the shoulders of the previous generation. Plato stood on Socratesí shoulders; Aristotle stood on Platoís shoulders; and on and on. But, you know, every once in while I think we can look at a period in history and say ó those people were wrong, and they really should have known better. For instance chattel slavery in the American south at around the time Melville wrote this book. Those people were wrong and they should have known better. Talk about a selective reading of the Bible ó whew! Southern clerics defended the Peculiar Institution with peculiar reasoning and with a most peculiar interpretation of the Bible. Northern clerics read the same passages in the same book and came up the opposite conclusion. Iím thinking it was that issue that caused the schism in Baptist Church and gave rise to The Southern Baptists.

    So if Iím engaging in finger-pointing, the question of slavery seems like a no-brainer. Whaling, as you point out, is a bit more of a gray area. A guy like Ishmael, with a 300th stake in the endeavor, is barely making ends meet. And he gives an impassioned defense of whaling in The Advocate chapter. I just didnít agree with his arguments. Nor did I agree with Rick Perryís arguments in defense of the fossil fuel industry. Captains Peleg and Bildad, as the rich owners, are on shakier ground, and I think Melville points that out.

    Of course anybody who finger-points at a previous generation is obliged to do a little self examination. What are we doing now thatíll have people couple of hundred years from now shaking their heads in disgust? Factory farming? Nationalistic wars? Air pollution?

    Whooeee! Heavy subject. On a lighter topic ó Aunt Charity. Hereís a limitation of my imagination ó as I was reading about her I kept picturing Betsey Trotwood. Theyíre totally different characters with almost nothing in common, but Betsey is still fresh in mind. So there you go.
    Uhhhh...

  13. #43
    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    OFF TOPIC


    Can't resist talking about pro boxing. For many years it was my absolute passion in life just as it was to my dad who was a former semi-pro boxer way back in the 1930s. The sport has attracted many highly literate people over the many decades with one being Charles Francis "Socker" Coe:





    https://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/p...to-collection/


    Fascinating human being. Great scholar, former boxer and announcer. He called some of Joe Louis's bouts. Wrote many stories one of which was said to have inspired the infamous St Valentine Day's Massacre. Despite his great fame and success in the sports and in journalism, he suddenly retired at age 50 to become a lawyer. Passed the Florida state bar exam even though he did not attend law school and became a great influence in developing the state tourist trade and real estate development.

    I must confess that I cannot understand why or how so many literary scholars are attracted to pugilism as the sweet science of boxing is known. Does anyone have any idea why?
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  14. #44
    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Itīs a beautiful poem, poppin. I put the link on #40 because the poem is large. Some parallels there to Moby Dick.



    Thanks for sharing that link. I believe that I read it in Junior High School some time around 1966 or thereabouts. The one line I remembered was,


    Water, water, every where,
    Nor any drop to drink.



    And yes, you are correct in that it parallels MD by having the same cycle of sin, penance, and redemption. In killing the innocent albatross the culprit violated a law of God or of Nature. That such ill advised violence does harm to oneself and to the natural order (and that because of this others can be harmed as well). That only in compliance with the natural order does one flourish peacefully. In fact, albatross was mentioned several time in MD. No doubt that Melville was influenced by Coleridge's poem. I wonder if the "prophet" Elijah was modeled after the mariner because he, too, had a story to tell though it was a sham (or so thought Ish) unlike the fate suffered by the mariner.

    I opened up my volume of MD and had forgotten that there was Chapter LII called "The Albatross". This was a spectral vessel which looked like it survived a disaster. When its captain picks up his horn to speak with Ahab, he accidentally drops the horn and cannot communicate. This was viewed as an ominous portent by the ''insane old man''. This foretells the reader that like the mariner, Ahab awaits an unhappy fate because of his unwise urgency in wanting to kill the whale thereby violating the natural order of things.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  15. #45
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Boxing! Hey, straying off topic adds spice to life. Although if we go down that path we’ll probably wind up reading Hemingway next. Not such a bad thing.

    Ditto. Thanks for the link, Danik. I need to read it before I get the Albatross chapter in MD. That’s one of the many things I like about literature — you open one door only to find twenty more doors to open.
    Uhhhh...

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