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MOBY DICK Book Club Part 3: When Truth is at least as strange as fiction.

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posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 07:08 PM
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Happy Friday ATS! I hope to begin the novel on Monday night, after wrapping up with my biographical account of certain events which surely informed Moby Dick.
I can't wait to have you join me! I hope everyone's interest hasn't waned with all of the extra-curricular reading. Sorry about all the added text!


The extraordinary series of events which transpired in Herman Melville’s life between the years 1842 and 1843 were enough to produce fodder for several of his novels. Typee, Omoo, Mardi, White Jacket, Moby Dick, and Billy Budd were all in part inspired by this short but thrilling duration of his life.

In my last thread, I left off with Melville’s description of an evening of debaucherous revelry aboard the whaling ship that had taken Melville on a course around the Americas and into the Pacific. You can read about these adventures here:

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Shortly after the above mentioned events, Melville conspired with one of his ship-mates to desert the whaler and head into the mountainous jungle of the Marquesas. They managed to slip away while at port and made toward the inner recesses of the island with the intent of exploring a bit before signing up with another ship.

What they found was perilous landscape, torrential rain, no shelter, with little to nothing to sustain them, plus Melville’s leg had swelled up from an unknown cause.. so, on the fourth day, they had no choice but to take their chances and descend into a valley occupied by natives. As Melville wrote in Typee, he and his friend “Toby” had good reason to believe that the tribe they were approaching were fierce cannibals. They likely didn’t know if they would be fed or be the food. As luck would have it, the cannibals who took them in were quite hospitable.

Despite Melville and Toby’s unease, they were in fact treated royally. The native tribe welcomed them, fed them poi-poi, gave them tobacco to smoke and introduced them to the native way of life. The men of the island were elaborately tattooed, the women bedecked in flowers, and all seemed very curious to learn about the strangers and willing to open their huts and customs to their visitors. According to Melville’s accounts in Typee, the ladies were very free with their favors.

(As an aside: his description of his experiences there earned him the dubious reputation as America’s first literary sex symbol. His writing style was lush and sensuous, and the contents quite risque for his time period. Typee was the best received of any of his novels during his lifetime but also the cause of unwonted scrutiny. Melville had marketed the novel as nonfiction but had elaborated on the truth and elongated the duration of his stay. This novel marked the first, and not the last time Melville was disingenuous to his readership.)

After a week with the tribe, Toby departed in order to seek medical help for Herman’s leg, leaving Melville alone with the cannibals. Melville spent the next two weeks in their company. By his account, it was a thrilling experience. I’d suggest reading Melville’s account of the experience in Typee. Meanwhile, Toby suffered a near fatal spear injury to his head by a less companionable tribe, made his way to a beach, paid an Irishman $5 to secure Melville (the Irishman took the money and ran) and departed on an outgoing ship. The word got out, though, that there was an American sailor “detained by savages,” and soon thereafter Melville was safely aboard the Lucy Ann and away from his friends of the Typee valley.

As luck would have it, the Lucy Ann was in the midst of revolt and near mutinous. The captain was weak, both healthwise and in character, and his first mate a brutish alcoholic. While Melville, at first, did his duty while others refused, he eventually joined with his crewmates in open revolt. He was taken, along with his fellow mutineers and put in stocks in Tahiti, which had recently been forcefully acquired by the French. This was Melville’s second time (in a matter of months) witnessing colonialism in its ugly reality.


To be continued..
edit on 2-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 07:22 PM
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The Lucy Ann had arrived at Tahiti on September 20th, 12 days after Tahiti's Queen Pomare had been forced to sign, under threat of violence, a document ceding power to the French. She was in the midst of labor when they approached her with the paperwork. She gave birth to her child weeping and sobbing, dethroned, with the fate of her people unknown under their new colonizers. Melville was led to prison on the island and could see the effects the colonizers had on the natives of Tahiti. He was well on his way to developing an extreme aversion to colonial powers and the destruction it wrought-- not to mention the underlying race issues involved between the "civilized" colonizers and their "savage" conquests.

We will see some of these ideas playing out in Moby Dick.

Melville wrote about his experiences on Tahiti in his second novel Omoo. He and another companion escaped the "free and easy jail" (Parker, 227) and spent several months living off the land in paradise. He worked the land for a short time before embarking out on his own. Food was plentiful (fish, fruit, taro) and Herman spent a carefree month on the beautiful island of Eimeo before signing up with another whaler The Charles and Henry.

Source: Herman Melville: A Biography Vol 1 by Hershel Parker.

Next up: Herman goes to Hawaii.


Thanks for taking the time to read! Questions or comments are most welcome

edit on 2-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:29 PM
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I'm all ready. I just had to leave my favorite city and my girlfriend for nine months to fix some family issues. I went from living with my honey in a nice apartment to renting a room in the outskirts of capital city with a roommate. Ugh.

A sea adventure? A quantifiable foe? Harpoons? I'm on board and ready. I'm reading the first chapter tomorrow.



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:36 PM
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a reply to: TheAlleghenyGentleman

So happy to have you aboard! (And sorry to hear about your less-than-desireable circumstances). I hope you get swept up in the adventure and forget all of your troubles.

Monday night is when I hope to begin the discussion. I can't wait to hear your ideas on the novel!



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:41 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I'm ready. We should tackle the master and margarita after this



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:42 PM
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a reply to: TheAlleghenyGentleman
there are five million chapters in Moby Dick.
why is this part three? why was there a part one?



edit on 2-12-2016 by Rikku because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:44 PM
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a reply to: Rikku

lol, it's not for everyone, that's for sure!



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:45 PM
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a reply to: TheAlleghenyGentleman

Hey, I've never read it.. I'm game!



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:45 PM
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a reply to: Rikku

Nope. Don't want a PlayStation. I'm ready to fill my mind with the high seas and hope and terror. Enjoy final fantasy XX or whatever the kids are playing these days.



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:47 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

An amazing read. From American to Russian literature. I think that's a good switch



posted on Dec, 2 2016 @ 08:50 PM
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a reply to: TheAlleghenyGentleman

Well I love Russian lit. Can't wait to read a new one. Thanks for the recommendation!

This is going to be so much fun!

Have a great weekend btw

edit on 2-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 02:01 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

Will it begin here or on a new thread?



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 07:34 AM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
a reply to: zosimov

Will it begin here or on a new thread?

Hi there Ankh


Well to be honest, if you have a suggestion as to how to best go about this, I would take it.

As of now, I was planning to start a new thread Monday night and link it up to the bottom of these biographical threads.

But I have to admit, I don't know what I'm doing exactly.. so any input as to the best way to begin would be welcome!

Hope you're doing well!



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 10:42 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

I've toyed with the idea of an ATYS book club but I don't know that anyone has ever done it. I know there are a lot of readers here, but I think you are the pioneer. No pressure, but I think this will provide a template for success or failure.



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 10:54 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Well I do love a challenge!


Although I'm a bit unsure about the logistics of making this happen, I'm really cheered by the people interested.. I think we're going to have some intelligent and fun discussions. Great group so far!

Hope it works out!



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 11:33 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

Well, if you want to do a chapter by chapter or group of chapter by group of chapter discussion, I'd suggest setting an assignment and target for completion for the group.

Then open a thread.

Start the group of with some question prompts, but be open to what others come up with too. and let the thread roll with discussion while the group works through the next reading chunk.

You might do what the NFL pick 'em group does and just use one thread for the whole thing. If the group is active in discussion, the thread will stay at or near the top of the literature forum and be easily seen by all participating.

Just some thoughts.



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 11:48 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko

ketsuko, thank you.. I really appreciate the input.

Will put together some prompts after work today and open a thread so anyone else can add to it.. goal is to begin discussion on Monday. I think using one thread for the entire book is a good idea. I'll put in a bit more thought later tonight.

Have fun with the reading


Thanks again



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 12:46 PM
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originally posted by: zosimov

originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
a reply to: zosimov

Will it begin here or on a new thread?

Hi there Ankh


Well to be honest, if you have a suggestion as to how to best go about this, I would take it.

As of now, I was planning to start a new thread Monday night and link it up to the bottom of these biographical threads.

But I have to admit, I don't know what I'm doing exactly.. so any input as to the best way to begin would be welcome!

Hope you're doing well!


I suggest a new thread with an attractive title, and in the OP, maybe add a nice image or two, a brief description, and maybe at the end, the first famous line of the book, oh and include the other links with the extra biographical info and comments. Try to get a Maritimey feel going, and the idea that we are about to embark upon an exciting adventure reading perhaps the greatest piece of American literature ever written. One thread for the whole thing, Chapter by Chapter.

Really Jazz up the OP for it as best you can, and it's possible that it might move up with enough S&F's eventually to make the front page.

Moby Dick should almost be required reading for any conspiracy theorist to exercise their appreciation for allegory and deep meaning.

When it appears that we've exhausted review of a chapter and it's time to start the next one, start each chapter with a type of OP, with an image and short intro, to excite people about delving into the next one to see what's around the corner or over the next wave. You could even add a link to a soundcloud file or a short YouTube clip with the sound of seagulls or a maritime bell to help bring people into the setting. Fun stuff like that.

Also, there's no mad rush. This process could go on for months and months as the greatest book review ever undertaken for this amazing story and metaphysical journey.

these are just thoughts and ideas off the top of my head.



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 02:28 PM
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I'm excited about it!

The spirit of Melville is excited.

Maybe even the angels, including our own better angels that Melville wished to somehow address, are also excited..

I can almost feel that playful mirth and charm and grave and wicked sense of humor starting to bubble up from the depths, so perhaps Moby Dick is also excited! LOL

Since reading this book, I so wanted for people to really "get" something of what Melville was wishing to convey.

I feel it's vitally important, because something of that intelligence and spirit has gone missing from the world, which really needs to be rekindled in whatever way however big or small.

It was a great dumbing down process, where even the dumbing downers were dumb and were blind because they said, we see.

I am convinced that there is something deep and fundamental lurking in these pages (I have my large text version ready to roll) that contains imbedded within itself the tip of a spearhead capable of cutting to the heart, and in the process netting the great catch of the ages, and helping to generate that place from which we once started, that to see it and perceive it again, we will come to know it as if for the first time, and bring forth from a storehouse of treasure something both old and new again, to the sound of seagulls and one of those bells you hear in distant fog to warn away ships from the shoals of destruction.

Bring it on!


P.S. And just remember, the bell tolls for thee, and that, once rung, you just cannot unring a rung bell!


edit on 3-12-2016 by AnkhMorpork because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 3 2016 @ 04:53 PM
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a reply to: AnkhMorpork

Hey there Ankh,

Thanks for the vid.. nice atmosphere that calls to mind the Pequod's icy Christmas departure.

I'm so glad for your enthusiasm. I agree that this is an essential read and thrilling too!

I will take your and ketsuko's suggestions into consideration. I'm very grateful to all who have responded so far.. to the tolling of the bell


Stay tuned all for soon we proceed to untrod waters!!!



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