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  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by hellsapoppin View Post
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    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?
    i suggest two answers as things to consider side by side.

    one is, i think literary scholars, as well as professional journalists, hobbyists and lay people of all walks of life, are attracted to a myriad of things. so its really hard to quantify or isolate boxing as being special in this regard.

    but to try to answer the question more directly poppin, id put forth that the attraction to boxing in general speaks to humanity's inherent martial nature. all athletic contests have that but boxing is an elemental/fundamenal version of it. the particular attraction from scholars or other writers, possibly stems from that.

  2. #47
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    as a fun aside, bing AI says this about the word "pugilism":

    The word “pugilism” refers to the sport of boxing. It was derived from the Latin word “pugil,” which means “boxer” and is related to the Latin word “pugnus,” meaning “fist”. The sport of boxing was first introduced in the 23rd Olympiad of 688 BCE by the Greeks, and the ancient Romans adopted it from them. The word “pugilism” was adopted by the English language in the 18th century and has since been used to refer to both the sport of boxing and metaphorical sparring, such as in a political debate

  3. #48
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    True. Boxing goes waaaaay back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. I remember reading of Epeios in Homer's Iliad. He was so tough, nobody dared challenge him. Sherlock Holmes had been a boxer in his youth as were a great many literary characters over the years.

    In modern times Jack London, Hemingway, AJ Leibling, George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, and "Socker" Coe were obsessed with it. Heck, even Joyce Carol Oates was every bit as obsessed as they were.

    There's something about that great sport that attracts intellectuals so it's no surprise that a great many movies (as well as good fiction) were made about the subject.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  4. #49
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    Haven’t found boxing in Moby yet, but Stubb, one of the mates, weighs in on getting hit with a fist as opposed to a cane:

    ‘Why,’ thinks I, ‘what’s the row? It’s not a real leg, only a false one.’ And there’s a mighty difference between a living thump and a dead thump. That’s what makes a blow from the hand, Flask, fifty times more savage to bear than a blow from a cane. The living member — that makes the living insult, my little man.
    So we finally meet Ahab, and the Pequod is already a few days out to sea. Ishmael sees him standing on the quarter deck, like an Oak, steadying himself by wedging his peg leg into a divot on the deck. Ishmael notes how once at sea Ahab almost never sleeps, he’s always topside.

    Stubb approaches Ahab and asks him, in so many words, to take it easy thumping across the deck with his whalebone peg leg because it’s noisy and is keeping the sailors below awake. Ahab basically tells him to go pound sand. Stubb retreats but is indignant about how the captain spoke to him. And like so many men who get put in their place at work and then go home and vent to their wife — “shoulda seen what I did to this clown at work today, hon” — Stubb whines to Flask about it. Flask, one of the other mates, tells him — “let it go, man. He’s just big-dicking you — something like that. Anyway, Ahab had never even touched Stubb. He didn’t have to, evidently. Stubb’s encounter with Ahab bothered him so much that he had a dream about it. He dreamt Ahab was kicking him with his prosthetic leg, and that’s what gave rise to his convo with Flask, and his theory that it’s worse to be punched than to be caned.

    Okay, so, I took a few liberties paraphrasing what Flask said to Stubb. What he really said was:

    No, you were kicked by a great man, and with a beautiful ivory leg, Stubb. It’s an honor;
    Uhhhh...

  5. #50
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    I don't recollect any boxing about the Pequod, or anywhere else in the book, but that, and what you posted above Sancho reminds of how history, and therefore seafaring literature and cinema is full of harsh corporal disciplinary measures, especially in the british navy but also on merchant ships.

    back to the point of boxing and intellectuals---I recently had occasion to share this quote from Thucydides:

    “The Nation that makes a huge distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”
    Last edited by bounty; 12-01-2023 at 07:01 PM.

  6. #51
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Haha. Good Greek General quote. Sounds like our adventures in Vietnam. Although now, it seems the pendulum has swung. We’ve got an 80 something president going to a war zone while “warriors” are sitting in trailers in Nevada flying Predator drones and pushing buttons that kill people thousands of miles away. It’s bizarre.

    Anyway, ta-da, I found boxing in Moby Dick. After his big speech, and the nailing of the Spanish coin to the mast, Ahab is ruminating in his cabin:

    I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer. Now, then, be the prophet and the fulfiller one. That’s more than ye, ye great gods, ever were. I laugh and hoot at ye, ye cricket-players, ye pugilists, ye deaf Burkes and blinded Bendigoes! I will not say as schoolboys do to bullies — Take some one of your own size; don’t pommel me! No, ye’ve knocked me down, and I am up again; but ye have run and hidden.
    Ahab, it seems, has a low opinion of boxers.

    Meanwhile, topside, the crew is reacting to Ahab’s speech. It’s a fun chapter. The boys are about three sheets to wind and singing bawdy sea shanties. A storm is approaching. And then racism rears its ugly head when a Spanish sailor disrespects an African harpooner (Dagoo) and a boxing match almost breaks out (foiled by the approaching storm).

    …look yonder, boys, there’s another in the sky lurid — like, ye see, all else pitch black.

    DAGGOO — What of that? Who’s afraid of black’s afraid of me! I’m quarried out of it!

    SPANISH SAILOR (Aside.) — He wants to bully, ah!— the old grudge makes me touchy (Advancing.) Aye, harpooneer, thy race is the undeniable dark side of mankind — devilish dark at that. No offence.

    DAGGOO (Grimly) —None.

    ST. JAGO’S SAILOR — That Spaniard’s mad or drunk. But that can’t be, or else in his one case our old Mogul’s fire-waters are somewhat long in working.

    5TH NANTUCKET SAILOR — What’s that I saw — lightning? Yes.

    SPANISH SAILOR — No; Daggoo showing his teeth.

    DAGGOO (Springing) — Swallow thine, mannikin! White skin, white liver!

    SPANISH SAILOR (Meeting him) — Knife thee heartily! big frame, small spirit!

    ALL — A row! a row! a row!

    TASHTEGO (With a whiff) — A row a’low, and a row aloft — Gods and men — both brawlers! Humph!

    BELFAST SAILOR —A row! arrah a row! The Virgin be blessed, a row! Plunge in with ye!

    ENGLISH SAILOR — Fair play! Snatch the Spaniard’s knife! A ring, a ring!

    OLD MANX SAILOR — Ready formed. There! the ringed horizon. In that ring Cain struck Abel. Sweet work, right work! No? Why then, God, mad’st thou the ring?

    MATE’S VOICE FROM THE QUARTER-DECK —Hands by the halyards! in top-gallant sails! Stand by to reef topsails! ALL The squall! the squall! jump, my jollies! (They scatter.)
    Uhhhh...

  7. #52
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    Sancho,

    I found boxing in Moby Dick. After his big speech, and the nailing of the Spanish coin to the mast, Ahab is ruminating in his cabin:

    I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer. Now, then, be the prophet and the fulfiller one. That’s more than ye, ye great gods, ever were. I laugh and hoot at ye, ye cricket-players, ye pugilists, ye deaf Burkes and blinded Bendigoes! I will not say as schoolboys do to bullies — Take some one of your own size; don’t pommel me! No, ye’ve knocked me down, and I am up again; but ye have run and hidden.
    Ahab, it seems, has a low opinion of boxers.

    Meanwhile, topside, the crew is reacting to Ahab’s speech. It’s a fun chapter. The boys are about three sheets to wind and singing bawdy sea shanties. A storm is approaching. And then racism rears its ugly head when a Spanish sailor disrespects an African harpooner (Dagoo) and a boxing match almost breaks out (foiled by the approaching storm).

    …look yonder, boys, there’s another in the sky lurid — like, ye see, all else pitch black.

    DAGGOO — What of that? Who’s afraid of black’s afraid of me! I’m quarried out of it!

    SPANISH SAILOR (Aside.) — He wants to bully, ah!— the old grudge makes me touchy (Advancing.) Aye, harpooneer, thy race is the undeniable dark side of mankind — devilish dark at that. No offence.

    DAGGOO (Grimly) —None.

    ST. JAGO’S SAILOR — That Spaniard’s mad or drunk. But that can’t be, or else in his one case our old Mogul’s fire-waters are somewhat long in working ...


    Great excerpts. I had forgotten this episode in that classic book. We see Ahab's soliloquy in which he appears to challenge Nature or Nature's God much like Nebuchadnezzar drinking, boasting, and then defying the biblical Jehovah to his peril. He refused to listen to wise counsel (from Daniel, I believe it was) and influenced his soldiers to do the same all to their doom. Ahab also defies wise counsel (given to him by Starbucks), gets his men into a massive drunken reverie, they pledge their undying loyalty to him, and, as we are to learn, do as to their peril as well. Both men have a very troubling dream, not realizing that it was a prophesy -- that they should turn back from their evils ways, listen to wise counsel, and adhere to good principle. Neither does so. The result is disaster for all.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    Haha. Good Greek General quote...
    im reading an old western called the silver desert by ernest haycox. there is large ranch and spread in Nevada called "the barrier" and there are some bad guys, led by a fellow named buffalo, who are trying to ruin it. one of the ranch's outposts, manned by a fellow named bill, was attacked by the bad guys and the ranch's owner, his foreman (matt), and some others went out to render aid:

    "the depards didn't think up this mischief, it was buffalo of course."

    matt strang waggled his head. "we're going to have a whole hell of a lot of grief up here in this broken country. I feel it. bill spiel's not the man you want to handle this camp four district. he could've made this three men do against six if he'd had nerve enough. he reads too much."

    "shouldn't be a handicap."

    "you cant scrap with your fingers in a book..."

  9. #54
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    Ya know, I was just considering making my next read an old western, a Zane Grey or a Louis L’Amour. I haven’t read too much in that genre. Lonesome Dove is the only one I can think of. As for the Greek General, Thucydides was required reading for several courses I took while in the military. I gravitated more towards Herodotus. I’d rather read about the man on the street than armies and war. The Histories is a book you can pick up, read several pages at random, and find something interesting.

    I’m nearing the half way point in Moby Dick. Tashtego has spotted a pod of whales. The boats are lowered, and the boys lay chase. Turns out Ahab has a ringer crew. We sort of know there are stowaways onboard, but until now we don’t know who they are. Ahab has a crew of Filipinos and a big ole turbaned fellow named Fedallah, all wearing black. WTF?

    But first, back to Ahab’s speech to the crew on the quarter deck. I saw it as tactical. It also told me it was his intention from the get-go to make this voyage all about revenge. He never had any intention of whaling for the investors. Tactically it was all about getting the sailors in his corner, which would make it just about impossible for the mates to mutiny. Starbuck, 1st mate, is caught off guard by Ahab’s speech and is only able to mount a weak defense. Then he caves pretty quickly, or more accurately he just holds his tongue. Stubb, 2nd mate, is mute, probably because Ahab had already b*tch-slapped him in an earlier encounter and thus Stubb is gun-shy (tragic mixed metaphor there). And finally, Flask, 3rd mate. Where’s Flask? Who knows. Flask is MIA. He’s probably inspecting his fingernails while all this is going on.

    From Ahab’s inner dialog earlier, it appears he has totally gone over to the dark side. I think at one time he was probably a good Quaker, but since the whale bit off his leg he has lost his faith. He even jabs his thumb into the eye of God and declares himself the prophet and the fulfiller. When Starbuck calls him out on his blasphemy, Ahab replies:

    Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me.
    The chapter about Moby himself is where we see this crucial moment:

    His three boats stove around him, and oars and men both whirling in the eddies; one captain, seizing the line-knife from his broken prow, had dashed at the whale, as an Arkansas duellist at his foe, blindly seeking with a six inch blade to reach the fathom-deep life of the whale. That captain was Ahab. And then it was, that suddenly sweeping his sickle-shaped lower jaw beneath him, Moby Dick had reaped away Ahab’s leg, as a mower a blade of grass in the field. No turbaned Turk, no hired Venetian or Malay, could have smote him with more seeming malice.
    Two images images popped into my mind here: First, Hugh Glass in The Revenant battling Mama grizzly with a Bowie knife. Second, the bishop in Caddy Shack losing his religion after almost playing the best 9 holes he ever played.

    There was a storm involved here too. Bill Murray is playing Ishmael, I suppose:

    https://youtu.be/Pe5eL8LQdY0?si=QmQTLhUWzhsIttvc

    Later at the bar:

    https://youtu.be/DEKyx_eTxBQ?si=FzswKtngaaHgGmeB

    What can I say? I’m a simple man.
    BTW Hugh Glass, though near-fatally injured, kills mama grizzly.
    Uhhhh...

  10. #55
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    ive enjoyed every l'amour book ive read, but zane grey is my favorite. I also like max brand and can heartily recommend him too.

    that's an interesting point about Ahab's tactics.

    caddyshack is one of the best movies ever. "id keep playing, I don't think the heavy stuffs going come down for quite a while."

    some trivia:

    In the scene where the Bishop (played by veteran actor Henry Wilcoxon) is having his best round of golf ever during a thunderstorm, he misses an easy putt, looks skyward and yells "rat farts!", and is immediately struck down by a bolt of lightning. The background music in this scene was from The Ten Commandments, in which Wilcoxon played the part of Pentaur.

    back to Ishmael, I've still be going through my far side collection, and was reminded there are at least a few moby dick ones. see the attachments.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #56
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    Major Kong rides the bomb in Dr Strangelove:


    dr-strangelove-still-580.jpg








    Ishmael rides the dolphins:


    With a frigate's anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!



    Ch 57, Of Whales In Paint ... In Stars
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  12. #57
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    White - the color which usually represents beauty, innocence, purity, goodness, and virtue. However, in MD the color is used to denote death, evil, sin, and every manner of bad things.


    Ch 14 Nantucket ~ the term "wight" (pronounced white) is used to represent inhabitants of that locale. We are told throughout the book that this is hardly a Paradise or Heaven and that, in fact, it is a perilous place. Among several definitions that it has, the word "wight" a reanimated corpse or zombie brought back to life by sorcery.

    Ch 38 Ahab ~ carries the mark of death. The "whitish" tree stump he wears as a leg which made him an "old sepulchral man" who was "dead" "grim" who wore a "crucifixion in his face" "seated upon an ivory stool" and sailed during the "dead wintry bleakness.

    Ch 41 Moby Dick ~ described throughout as evil. He is called here the White Whale possessed of "ferocity {of} unexampled malignity {causing} fatalities, disasters, death ... deadliest ill."

    Ch 42 Whiteness of the Whale ~ "It was the whiteness of the whale that most appalled me" says Ish. He says that usually whiteness represents mythical good. But instead, in the real world it represents evil such as white Europeans evilly conquering militarily dark skinned races world wide, the whiteness of the albatross casts evil spells (see also the chapter on the albatross), the Albino man repels all, in the seas the White Squall foretells danger, the murderous White Hoods of Ghent, white represents pallor of the dead, peculiar apparitions, White Friar or White Nun are soul less, the White Sea is spectral, "the tall pale man" of European legend is a terrible phantom, the snow filled Andes mountains are dangerous and deadly, etc. Whiteness represents a leprous 'palsied universe'.

    Ch 119 The Candles ~ We see St Elmo's Fire whose pallidness revealed a "ghostly light" which portends fiery doom.



    Great irony that while the world usually calls white the color of good and black the color of evil, Ishmael tells us just the opposite {SPOILER ALERT}. As most of you know, Ish lives because he is saved when he rests upon the coffin of his black brother Quee.


    Now let's go to pro boxing.

    Please recall Muhammed Ali's interview on angel food cake being white while devil food cake being black:


    https://www.facebook.com/Funnews7/vi...1314310928646/



    Oh the irony!
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  13. #58
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    Oh, I forgot that in Ch 59 ~ Squid --- a gigantic white squid (furlongs in length and breath) called a "white ghost" and a "monster" appears. Again, its color again represents evil. It scares the sailors especially Starbucks who repeatedly gave warnings of impending danger but did not scare Ahab who persisted in continuing the mission.
    When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent

    ~ Isaac Asimov

  14. #59
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Haha. I think Gary Larson may struggle with writer’s block from time to time. That panel is just too on-point. I’ve got a collection of his in a box in my basement. When I’m trying to organize down there, I’ll come across it and then I don’t get anything else done. As for Caddyshack, I’d say there’s a handful of movies from that era without which guys my age wouldn’t know how to act. And wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other. So we got that going for us, which is nice. Stripes is another. Dr. Strangelove, although from an earlier era, is another. Major Kong was no Ahab, though. He was a pretty good aircraft commander. So good, in fact, he wound up kicking off a nuclear holocaust. It was B.G. Jack T. Ripper that had gone full Ahab.

    I think chapters like Of Whales In Paint are a good example of why some people hate this book. Ishmael has a penchant for going off on a tangent and musing about this thing or that instead of getting on with the action. — Yeah, yeah, yeah, the sky is blue and the sea is too, but what happens NEXT? Actually I kind of like those chapters. Among other things it gives the reader the sense of all the dead time sailors had on the ship. And some of his descriptions are amazing. Here Fedallah has taken up the watch in the crow’s nest at night. He wears a snow-white turban:

    You may think with what emotions, then, the seamen beheld this old Oriental perched aloft at such unusual hours; his turban and the moon, companions in one sky.
    This is an action sequence, but what a visual, eh? The whale boats are in hot pursuit:

    the brief suspended agony of the boat, as it would tip for an instant on the knife-like edge of the sharper waves, that almost seemed threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip into the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings and goadings to gain the top of the opposite hill; the headlong, sled-like slide down its other side;— all these, with the cries of the headsmen and harpooneers, and the shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous sight of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats with outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her screaming brood;—
    I do like a good barnyard simile.

    You know, I think Muhammad Ali could’ve written The Whiteness Of The Whale chapter. That was an awesome clip.
    Uhhhh...

  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post

    You know, I think Muhammad Ali could’ve written The Whiteness Of The Whale chapter. That was an awesome clip.


    You get a major thumbs up for that one!


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

    ~ Isaac Asimov

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