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Whalemen Wanted: Moby Dick Book Club Starts Here

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posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 08:47 PM
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Are you ready to go a-whaling?

Before we begin, I wanted to mention (again, sorry for any redundancy) Melville's "secret motto," which he revealed to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne in a letter shortly after finishing the novel.

I am going to read the novel with these words in mind, as I think it contains certain keys to the allegory that Melville intended to depict in his tale. I would love to hear your interpretations as well.

"Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli"-- (I baptize you not in the name of the father but the name of the devil.) He also explained that he had written a wicked book, but felt as spotless as a lamb.

I wonder if we could get to the bottom of this as we read? What cold he possibly have meant by that?
edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 08:51 PM
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Chapter 1 Loomings




[loom] noun 1. a hand-operated or power-driven apparatus for weaving fabrics, containing harnesses, lay, reed, shuttles, treadles, etc. 2. the art or the process of weaving. 3. the part of an oar between the blade and the handle. verb (used with object) 4. to weave (something) on a loom. loom2 verb (used without object) 1. to appear indistinctly; come into view in indistinct and enlarged form: The mountainous island loomed on the horizon. 2. to rise before the vision with an appearance of great or portentous size: Suddenly a police officer loomed in front of him. 3. to assume form as an impending event: A battle looms at the convention. noun 4. a looming appearance, as of something seen indistinctly at a distance or through a fog: the loom of a moraine directly in their path.


Foreshadowing:

Does anyone want to venture a guess as to why the first chapter was named as such? Do you believe there is a double meaning there? (Loom=weaving a tale, weaving of the fates, but also overshadowing massive object?)

Are there other indications of the tragedy yet to come?

Do you get the sense that Ishmael is still trying to find meaning from the tragedy he bears witness to?

How is the great whale first introduced? Any idea what this indictes? (hooded phantom, snow hill in the air)

Characterization:

Do you believe Ishmael is his real name? Why does he choose this name for himself?

What does this first line tell us about Ishmael and his place in the world?

What does the first chapter tell us about our narrator?

What else do we learn about Ishmael and his unique perspective in the subsequent chapters?

What signs are there to indicate Melville's ideas on predestination? Does Ishmael believe he had a choice, or was he an actor in a play he didn't write?

The opening of Moby Dick is considered by many to be the best opening line in literature.

What relationship is Ishmeal establishing with the reader by addressing him/her directly?

How does this serve to pull the reader in and drag the along with the storyline?

In what other ways does Melville draw the reader in?

What's your overall impression of the narrator's tone? What characteristics to you ascribe to Ishmael from what he says and how he says it?

Themes:

Some themes I believe we will see present themselves are free will and predestination, the nature of man and the nature of God, isolation and community, "civilized" vs "savage", the ship as a microcosm of the world, the symbolism of the color white (purity, but also the pall of death), madness, obsession, revenge, authority (who leads?), the magnetic attraction of water.




edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 08:55 PM
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edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: condensing



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 08:57 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Jaysus H! Melville was buddies with Hawthorne!

Hawthorne is my guy!

This rocks even more, zosimov. Thanks!




posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:01 PM
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edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: condensing



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:05 PM
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originally posted by: Dan00
a reply to: zosimov

Jaysus H! Melville was buddies with Hawthorne!

Hawthorne is my guy!

This rocks even more, zosimov. Thanks!





Awesome, no? I really wanted to give more info about this-- he had a somewhat short-lived friendship with Hawthorne (not kept up once Hawthorne moved away) that corresponded with the writing of the novel. Melville has a bit of hero worship toward great men in general and Hawthorne in particular. I will re-read the relevent parts in his bio and share some of the more amazing anecdotes with you shortly!

In fact, he dedicated Moby Dick to Hawthorne!

edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:07 PM
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a reply to: zosimov



he had a somewhat short-lived friendship with Hawthorne (not kept up once Hawthorne moved away) that corresponded with the writing of the novel. Melville has a bit of hero worship toward great men in general and Hawthorne in particular.


Kinda like Howard and Lovecraft, maybe.

And I'll stay on target now. I'm just thrilled to learn this.


edit on 5-12-2016 by Dan00 because:




posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:10 PM
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originally posted by: Dan00
a reply to: zosimov



he had a somewhat short-lived friendship with Hawthorne (not kept up once Hawthorne moved away) that corresponded with the writing of the novel. Melville has a bit of hero worship toward great men in general and Hawthorne in particular.


Kinda like Howard and Lovecraft, maybe.

And I'll stay on target now. I'm just thrilled to learn this.



I was thrilled to hear it too! I will definitely follow up on this for you.



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:18 PM
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Feel free to include any of your own suggestions or ideas! I really like Ankh's suggestion to break the read up into sections. Let's try it that way.. all the events leading up to departure (chapter 20) and then I suggest up till The Whiteness of the Whale, chapter 45 as another grouping. What do you think all?


edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 09:22 PM
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I truly apologize for the helter-skelter presentation. I still have all kinds of chaotic (good chaos) family stuff swirling about. Please allow me a bit more time to get it together.

See y'all in about an hour, once everyone is tucked away safely in bed.



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 10:23 PM
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Hello friends!

I am very curious (before getting into any specific questions) about your impressions so far? How is this reading the same or different from the last time you read the book?

What are your thoughts/questions?


Ankh, I re-read your post from last night and, aside from truly enjoying your style of writing and your ideas, was struck by your point that the first chapter really draws us in.
Does anyone want to comment on that.. why do you agree or disagree with that sentiment?
What signs do you see of Melville including the reader?
Do you, too, feel the draw of the water and the urge to join Ishmael on his quest?



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 10:33 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

OMG, too MANY questions now... : )

That's quite the assignment you've laid out!

Ok, will think about a list of things to add, and questions to ask as I read along, while coming back to them and commenting on them while reading along..

Could you put them in one list in one post for us, and then we can add to it from there? Thanks so much.


Suggestion?

Leafing through, I feel that we would be well served in our endeavor and quest, to break the book up a bit, starting out with the lead up to the boarding of the ship, which takes us up to...

Chapter 20, "All Astir"

That could in turn be broken down further, but, all in all it really paves the way and sets the stage for the upcoming sea adventure to follow (the main part of the whole story), and so this will also help generate anticipation and suspense, or a foreboding sense of dread with the aid of the mad prophet, to the point in the story where we shall at last set sail, and then at last learn of the mysterious personage and countenance of one Captain Ahab.

Thus, the first section of 19 chapters, is something that we ought to be able to bite off and chew.

Then, when it comes time for the sea voyage, please determine zosimov, how the rest of the book ought to be broken up for analysis and comment, of which there are many schools who've studied this book previously..? Let's take the best of the best of what they have to offer with a special ATS twist to it..


Sound reasonable?

It's begun...

edit on 5-12-2016 by AnkhMorpork because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 10:54 PM
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originally posted by: Raggedyman
So as a green hand, any idea of my wages on these whale boats.
Never taken to the ocean before, well not one that would have me away for more than a couple of days.

Yeah so I googled it
No whaleman was ever paid a wage, except in unusual circumstances. If, for instance, a full ship had to take on additional hands on the way home, their share of the profits would be zero (since they had not participated in the whaling) and they were paid a monthly wage. Ordinarily, each man, from the captain to the cabin boy, received a percentage of the profits— called a lay—at the end of the voyage.

what-when-how.com...


This (the lay) is treated in the story when Ishmael, and Queequeg end up bartering for their passage. It's a very interesting and amusing story, that part of it, so I hope you're reading it along with us and you are more than welcome as is Raggedyman.

Please join us one and all for the Christmas departure of The Pequod and signal that you're part of the crew for boarding, by flagging the thread and making a post to say hello, I'm in for this here adventure.

Welcome aboard mates whoever ye may be.




edit on 5-12-2016 by AnkhMorpork because: images added for dramatic effect.



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 11:06 PM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork

Please join us one and all for the Christmas departure of The Pequod and signal that you're part of the crew for boarding, by flagging the thread and making a post to say hello, I'm in for this here adventure.

Welcome aboard mates whoever ye may be.


Let me second that!

And add this:



Feel free to hop aboard anytime, all are welcome!

edit on 5-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 5 2016 @ 11:12 PM
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"..it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in." -Ishmael



These creatures are incredible!
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posted on Dec, 6 2016 @ 12:24 AM
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a reply to: zosimov

My God they're harmless, even playful... although I suppose you wouldn't want to piss one off..



posted on Dec, 6 2016 @ 06:44 PM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
a reply to: zosimov

My God they're harmless, even playful... although I suppose you wouldn't want to piss one off..



One of my (many) favorite scenes of the book is a scene in which the men are in the whale-boats, hunting, some have been injured and the whole pod is whipped up into a violent frenzy. Ishmael catches a glimpse into the deep at the heart of the frenzy and spies the most peaceful scene of a travelling nursery- mothers serenly nursing their babies as the chaos surounds them.

The enormous albino whale that inspired the fictional character Moby Dick was known to docilely swim alongside ships- until he was attacked. Once provoked he showed tremendous fury and cunning and would attack his would be killers. When he was finally killed, he had over a hundred scars in his body from battles he had swum away from, victorious.

They finally got him one day when one of the crew had the idea to kill a calf- which they did- and the calf's mother, too, when she swam to her baby's rescue. This got the attention of Mocha Dick who ferociously attacked the whalers. After a fierce battle in which he managed to crush one of the boats and nearly drown one of his pursuers, he was dealt a blow he could not recover from.

They seem, by all accounts, to be magnificent creatures, and capable of great compassion and feats of bravery.
edit on 6-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 6 2016 @ 06:51 PM
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I would like everyone to know that they can answer (or not answer) any questions they wish.. come up with their own, comment on anything they'd like to, read at whichever pace feels comfortable..

If we were to read one chapter a day, we would be right on schedule to depart, along with the boat, on Christmas Day.

If you are not one to discuss themes, foreshadowing, deeper meanings and secret mottos, please read with us anyway! I welcome anything you would like to add to the group. I'm sure it would be valuable and the adventure itself is worth reading, you don't have to dive to the bottom of the ocean in order to enjoy the voyage.


Welcome to all. Answer whatever questions you'd like to, whenever you want.

We can use this thread as a place to check in and write anything that strikes us.

Enjoy the read, me mateys!



posted on Dec, 6 2016 @ 09:38 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Awesome. For now, what's on my docket is to leisurely read up to the point of disembarkation of the Pequod around Christmas, which is certainly no rush.

As I said before, this could go on for months, and maybe eventually we could also end up listening to a new free audio book version that's better than anything you'll find anywhere on the net, which would also be fun.

Thanks for this friend/mate.



posted on Dec, 7 2016 @ 10:33 PM
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Hi there guys
from reading the first chapter, this is what I see in Ishmael:

He addresses you directly, but introduces himself by a false name.
He's well educated, well versed in classics and Biblical lore.
He identifies, as Ankh put it, as a black sheep.
He suffers from bouts of "spleen" and depression (hypos) and uses adventure as remedy.
He's funny, with a wry sense of humor.
He's a Calvinist(?)
He's poor.
He's (maybe) related to an established family.
He's worked as a salt on a merchant ship, and as a schoolmaster.
He has an interesting view of authority and fate.
"Who ain't a slave?"
"In much the same way as the commonality lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it." (after saying that the Commodores breathe the second hand air expelled by the sailors)
And, yes, that bill of Providence that was written up a long time ago that you mentioned Ankh (great find on the date!)--our tiny little headline in history- and why did Ismael get this particular part he is still trying to make sense of.

This quote is incredible:
"I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts."
edit on 7-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



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