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Whalemen Wanted: Moby Dick Book Club Starts Here

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posted on Dec, 19 2016 @ 10:29 PM
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a reply to: AnkhMorpork

Thanks, Ankh, for your thoughts! I agree and the more I read up on the historical accounts that precipitated Melville's great masterpiece the more amazed I get.

What truly fascinated me about Mocha Dick were the circumstances surrounding his death- he was out of the reach of his killers until they decided to try to lure him in by killing a calf, then its grieving mother, which caused Mocha to turn on the men in a fury. Perhaps it was his fury that undid him- according to the accounts he was usually quite cunning when facing his attackers, but this time committed an error which turned out to be fatal.

I can see how this account so captivated Melville's imagination and (among other things) led him to formulate the monsterous legend of Moby Dick.

Also: After his death, there were several subsequent sightings of a whale very much in appearance like Mocha Dick, which sparked rumors that he lived. I can't help but wonder whether this sensational news gave Melville the idea of a ubiquitous, immortal foe.
edit on 19-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 20 2016 @ 12:00 AM
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originally posted by: zosimov
a reply to: AnkhMorpork

Also: After his death, there were several subsequent sightings of a whale very much in appearance like Mocha Dick, which sparked rumors that he lived. I can't help but wonder whether this sensational news gave Melville the idea of a ubiquitous, immortal foe.


Thank you for this. Can you provide a cite for that?

That's just terrible. If I were that whale I'd be very VERY upset about the unnecessary slaughter of my family members, but that's what got him eh?

Too bad he hadn't taken lessons from Yoda, then he would have known better, but I'm sure he put up a good fight to the very end, and in the process, whether his white form again was sighted or not, Melville proceeded to immortalize him in this great book.

P.S. I should be getting up to Chapter 20 in the next few days and then I'm ready to embark on the voyage, even if it's just the two of us and a carpet bag.



posted on Dec, 20 2016 @ 09:21 AM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork

P.S. I should be getting up to Chapter 20 in the next few days and then I'm ready to embark on the voyage, even if it's just the two of us and a carpet bag.


I'm afraid my poor captaining skills may have led to a deserter or two
Nonetheless, I really look forward to the journey with you, friend.

Here's a quote from Wikipedia about Mocha:



In Reynolds' account, Mocha Dick was killed in 1838, after he appeared to come to the aid of a distraught cow whose calf had just been slain by the whalers. His body was 70 feet long and yielded 100 barrels of oil, along with some ambergris—a substance used in the making of perfumes and at times worth more per ounce than gold. He also had nineteen harpoons in his body. A decade later, The Knickerbocker reported another sighting of Mocha Dick in the Arctic Ocean, concluding "Vive 'Mocha Dick'!".[4]:267–8


And here's a link to the site.. if you scroll down to the sources, the 4th one will take you to a google books page with the original article (link was broken here).

en.wikipedia.org...

I agree that that noble (yes I'm attributing the trait to a whale) creature would have learned great skills from Yoda. And, too, that Melville provided the chap with an amazing eulogy.

I am very much looking forward to our voyage Ankh!

And anyone else who wants to join us!

edit on 20-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 23 2016 @ 10:57 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I'm running behind and won't be able to set sail until towards the end of this week
.

He's out there, in the air as if hovering, the great whale, and so far the scene that has been set has the tone of "Jaws", along with a very healthy and hearty sense of humor and charm, particularly in the discovery that among all the men that one could hope to meet, Queequeg the "savage" turned out to be the most civilized and genteel of men, however tattooed and scarred like a checkerboard he might be.

So the true friend is the unexpected savage, and that's very curious.

I think he's supposed to represent something in the reader, perhaps that a checkered past that leaves it's tattoos on a man can nevertheless leave that same man innocent at heart, and it's this "way of being" that Queequeg has as a reflection of the inner man who is or has the potential to be one's own bosom buddy, even in spite of one's self and all the steeped prejudices of others based solely on appearance.

Queequeg is like the repressed ID made manifest as both a savage barbarian (peddling shrunken heads around town for a living), and as the most loving and dignified of the whole lot of them.

There is a deep mirth and humor in the irony of this, at the expense of those who might fancy themselves to be outwardly civilized but inwardly barbaric and depraved, hiding the checkered tattoos on the inside, instead of wearing them outwardly.

I'm at the Church scene now, and discovered by the dating of those memorial stones that we must adjust the date of this voyage to about 1940-41 since at least a year must pass from the most recent gravestone of the lost sailor.

Then the sermon, including a reference to Jonah and the Whale - I'm going to savor that little piece of reading, coming up..

edit on 23-12-2016 by AnkhMorpork because: typo



posted on Dec, 24 2016 @ 02:45 AM
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I obviously meant 1840-41.



posted on Dec, 24 2016 @ 09:58 AM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
a reply to: zosimov

I'm running behind and won't be able to set sail until towards the end of this week

.
Perfect! That would be perfect timing for me as well.



He's out there, in the air as if hovering, the great whale, and so far the scene that has been set has the tone of "Jaws", along with a very healthy and hearty sense of humor and charm, particularly in the discovery that among all the men that one could hope to meet, Queequeg the "savage" turned out to be the most civilized and genteel of men, however tattooed and scarred like a checkerboard he might be.

So the true friend is the unexpected savage, and that's very curious.

I think he's supposed to represent something in the reader, perhaps that a checkered past that leaves it's tattoos on a man can nevertheless leave that same man innocent at heart, and it's this "way of being" that Queequeg has as a reflection of the inner man who is or has the potential to be one's own bosom buddy, even in spite of one's self and all the steeped prejudices of others based solely on appearance.

Queequeg is like the repressed ID made manifest as both a savage barbarian (peddling shrunken heads around town for a living), and as the most loving and dignified of the whole lot of them.

There is a deep mirth and humor in the irony of this, at the expense of those who might fancy themselves to be outwardly civilized but inwardly barbaric and depraved, hiding the checkered tattoos on the inside, instead of wearing them outwardly.




I love your commentary on Queequeg- especially the outward appearance vs inner truth. It took such an amount of openness (on the part of both men) for them to forge such a quick and deep friendship, but Queequeg in particular showed grace and good nature.
And then we see him in the church!

Great find on the dates- thank you for your diligence.

Such fun!



posted on Dec, 28 2016 @ 08:05 PM
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Hey there, just wanted to follow up on the Lazarus/Dives parable that Melville referred to in Chapter 2 The Carpet Bag and its significance to the text and to life in general.

Here's the parable in its entirety:




Luke 16:19-31“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”


In my opinion, Melville used this parable to signify isolation (Ishmael's from society and the isolation of suffering in particular). He brings up the parable while he is standing outside of a warm inn, freezing and alone, and listening to the sounds of revelry within. He refers to his own body as the safe abode within which he faces the cold world (though not without letting some cold in through the cracks) and points out that Lazarus's body wasn't equipped to keep the cold at bay. He even goes so far as to propose that, in the midst of suffering on the frigid earth, Lazarus might have welcomed hellfire-if only to thaw his frozen hands by. I believe that here Ishmael is likening his own predicament of standing outside of the inn, without the means to enter, to Lazarus helplessly lying out by the gate of Dives's rich lodging.

And to add yet another layer to our allegory, we have the afterlife of Dives, where he has been punished for his lack of providing for the beggar at his gate and is sentenced to suffer in hell. As Lazarus was forced to watch helplessly while Dives lived luxuriously, Dives now can glimpse heaven from his hellish abode. Though close enough to see, heaven is quite out of his reach, separated by an impassable abyss. He begs Lazarus to bring him a cool drink but Lazarus is unable (willing or not) to provide.

The overwhelming idea I get from this passage is of being on the outside, looking in at happiness just out of reach--fated to suffer alone.

Anyone have any ideas on this topic?
edit on 28-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 09:56 AM
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This quote from Chapter 2 is a perfect example of Ishmael's occasionally caustic humor:

"Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of orphans."



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 10:29 AM
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Sidenote on Chapter 3 The Spouter Inn: Hershel Parker posited that Melville had originally intended a greater role for the character Bulkington, first mentioned in this chapter, but that he got lost in the maelstrom of Melville's creative process. The book was written in two different locations, was being furiously researched as it was written, was interupted daily by various family tasks, was accompanied by intense emotions (both positive- many from the stimulous of Melville's new friendship with Hawthorne-- and negative, as Melville was wrestling with his own demons and doubts) and finally was rushed to the finish due to the fact that Melville had found a publisher (in England) and now needed to produce a manuscript post haste.

Bulkington appears only one other time in the book, in an amazing little chapter (Chapter 23)The Lee Shore, which was most likely written towards the chronological end of the book and inserted as a way of tying up loose ends.



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 03:19 PM
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I'm very slowly making my way up to Chapter 20 (been busy).

I was struck by the preacher's sermon about Jonah, and repentance, and then the exchange with Queequeg, each in the other's "religious domain", and the budding love of friendship between Christian and non-Christian as a brotherly love that somehow joins them together in ways that are unexpected.

I think he's implying that his reader is like Jonah trying to run away from God, who uses a whale to both punish and to save.

Again, very humorous, mirthful and not a little mischievious on Melville's part.

It should also be noted how of all men in the setting, Queequeg is at peace with himself more than anyone. More ironic humor.

The idea here is to intimate and foreshadow the need for an authentic repentance for running away from God's commands which are both necessary and hard, commands because if they were easy, only persuasion would be needed.

I think he intends to put the reader to which he was addressing the story, a certain Christian elitist, through the ringer and make a mockery of his secret prejudices.

Melville is definitely up to something. There's a great deal of method to the seemingly random circumstances of the unfolding story.

There appears to be a strong allegory running in back of the story, so it's a good thing to look for pregnant meaning and significance and metaphor.

As slowly as I'm reading, getting to it only for short periods, it is interesting the way the lead up to the voyage is setting the stage and paving the way.

Queequeg is so lovable in his silent way, and in his "marriage" to Ishmael there is an image of true Christian koinonia.

This is very ironic.

It's as if "God" is being evoked as an underlying theme if not a hidden character but by "God" I am thinking of something a little higher and loftier than traditional concepts, particularly those during Melville's day.

He wishes to lift the mind and heart of the reader to contemplate a new vista of sorts there at the edge of the sea and the edge of the world - and out there somewhere swims a white whale under turbulent seas as if sent by God to swallow the guilty conscience and bring about a type of repentance that is also a form of praise and worship, like Jonah, upon which there will be a deliverance as God commanded the whale to vomit Jonah up on the beach, another edge of the world / new beginning.

In Biblical terms we know that Jesus himself felt that the sign of Jonah was significant, so we also have a death and resurrection, and the return to innocence and blamelessness, as with Queequeg.

He is seeking to tame the savage and the barbarian in the reader by a grand paradigm shift or series of them, which are very evocative on an emotional level, and thus, very persuasive and appealing and compelling.

Herman Melville would have made for an awesome psychotherapist and socio-political activist, because that's what he appears to be up to.


I would be very interested to get a take from you zosimov, on just how this book was received upon publication ie: was anyone offended by it? or were they maybe too stupid to understand who he was addressing and what it was all about..?

Ankh

edit on 30-12-2016 by AnkhMorpork because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 03:41 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Seems like a warning to the Christian-elite of Melville's day, all comfy and warm and revelling inside, while ignoring the needy, and how those tables can be so quickly turned.



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 03:45 PM
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originally posted by: zosimov
This quote from Chapter 2 is a perfect example of Ishmael's occasionally caustic humor:

"Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of orphans."


Very interesting.

Now that's some tough love.



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 04:00 PM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork

I would be very interested to get a take from you on just how this book was received upon publication ie: was anyone offended by it? or were they maybe too stupid to understand who he was addressing and what it was all about..?



Hey Ankh, I (as usual) loved your post and will address the rest of it soon, but thought I'd start by answering this question as it was something I really wanted to share anyway.

The book pretty much bombed. For one, it was mistakingly published (in England) without the Epilogue, leading critics to wonder how the narrator was able to speak from his watery grave.

Based on several poor reviews, the book gained the reputation of being "more than blasphemous"-- although it's fair to say that most of the reviewers were working on only the most superficial understanding of the text. Or perhaps they did not like the mirror Melville held up. He was no friend to the Methodists already due to his addressing the horrendous treatment natives received at the hands of mercenaries (think you read a bit about this in that article you found earlier) in several of his earlier works.

Too add to Melville's misfortune, there was a warehouse fire which destroyed more than 1/10 of the first edition copies.

His career was pretty much over before it had a chance to begin.


edit on 30-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 04:12 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

Hey that's interesting. As would be expected. They would be insulted by it and consider it blasphemous.

When and how was it considered a masterpiece in American literature or when and how did it finally get the recognition that it deserved?

Also, is there any evidence that the book itself ended up having an impact on the social conscience once it was better received and understood?

Before I started reading it, I never had the impression that it was anything other than a dull old book about a whale or just vengeance.

I find Melville's penchant for dark humor to be way ahead of his time. He reminds me of Oscar Wilde in some ways. I wonder if he (Wilde) ever read it or commented on the book?

Was "Moby Dick" ever really seen as absolutely filled with mirthful irony and humor?

The idea of so many people reading it, without smiling, is almost disturbing to me. That's the real blasphemy, not to get the grave humor involved, imho.

edit on 30-12-2016 by AnkhMorpork because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 04:30 PM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
a reply to: zosimov

Hey that's interesting. As would be expected. They would be insulted by it and consider it blasphemous.

When and how was it considered a masterpiece in American literature or when and how did it finally get the recognition that it deserved?

Also, is there any evidence that the book itself ended up having an impact on the social conscience once it was better received and understood?

Before I started reading it, I never had the impression that it was anything other than a dull old book about a whale or just vengeance.

I find Melville's penchant for dark humor to be way ahead of his time. He reminds me of Oscar Wilde in some ways. I wonder if he (Wilde) ever read it or commented on the book?

Was "Moby Dick" ever really seen as absolutely filled with mirthful irony and humor?

The idea of so many people reading it, without smiling, is almost disturbing to me. That's the real blasphemy, not to get the grave humor involved, imho.


So, I do not know exactly when the great whale took its deserved place amongst classic lore.. but I know two things off the top of my head:
1. Melville died in relative obscurity and utter poverty.
2. His work was not without its followers- there were already devotees who had begun taking pilgrimiges to the church Melville immortalized in The Chapel even during his lifetime, but more so after his death.

As for the humor.. what a bunch of wet blankets! One of the reviews did refer to humor but not in a good sense, speaking of its "irreverence and profane jesting." (While admitting that his perspective may be true to life).

I, too, (before reading) considered this to be a stiff old dust laden novel about a whale or something else uninteresting. What a great surprise I found instead!

Write more later
Got a grumpy kid who just woke up prematurely from a nap and needs some mom love

edit on 30-12-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2016 @ 08:21 PM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork


The idea here is to intimate and foreshadow the need for an authentic repentance for running away from God's commands which are both necessary and hard, commands because if they were easy, only persuasion would be needed.

There appears to be a strong allegory running in back of the story, so it's a good thing to look for pregnant meaning and significance and metaphor.

As slowly as I'm reading, getting to it only for short periods, it is interesting the way the lead up to the voyage is setting the stage and paving the way.

He wishes to lift the mind and heart of the reader to contemplate a new vista of sorts there at the edge of the sea and the edge of the world - and out there somewhere swims a white whale under turbulent seas as if sent by God to swallow the guilty conscience and bring about a type of repentance that is also a form of praise and worship, like Jonah, upon which there will be a deliverance as God commanded the whale to vomit Jonah up on the beach, another edge of the world / new beginning.

In Biblical terms we know that Jesus himself felt that the sign of Jonah was significant, so we also have a death and resurrection, and the return to innocence and blamelessness, as with Queequeg.




I plan to address more of the excellent ideas included here, but thought I'd add a relevent quote from The Pulpit to see if we could catch a glimpse of some of Melville's rich allegory:

"..for the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow."

I also think this quote from The Sermon has particular meaning in regards to Melville's reception by the populace:

"Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal! Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness!"

Great stuff, Ankh. Thanks as always!



posted on Dec, 31 2016 @ 12:16 AM
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And woe to him to messes with the wrong whale.


Btw, I had an interesting experience earlier today. I went for a nap, and in the first hypnogogic imagery that I got, a great whale traversed my friend of vision.

I was visited! lol



posted on Dec, 31 2016 @ 12:18 AM
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I meant field not friend, but that was an interesting typo. Sometimes the spirit leads even our fingers. Therefore I'll take it as a good omen and not a foreboding one. The whale is my friend.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 06:30 PM
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originally posted by: AnkhMorpork
And woe to him to messes with the wrong whale.


Btw, I had an interesting experience earlier today. I went for a nap, and in the first hypnogogic imagery that I got, a great whale traversed my friend of vision.

I was visited! lol



Hi Ankh, sorry for the late reply! Thanks for sharing your interesting vision with me


I have had whale on the brain for over a year now, since going down this rabbit-hole of a book.. but have yet to have a visitation!


I will be on later tonight with some thoughts on the sermon, the following chapter that tells of Ishmael and Queequeg's "marriage", and what I think Melville meant by placing these two chapters one after the other.

Get your sea legs ready because before we know it we will be traversing unknown waters!
edit on 4-1-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 11:43 PM
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Melville has some pretty wicked satire going! He brought to mind Jonathan Swift, so I looked up some of Swift's quotes and found some really interesting/relevant quotes:

"When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."

"Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own."

"The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman."

"The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style."

"A tavern is a place where madness is sold by the bottle."

Read more at: www.brainyquote.com...

I recognized so much of these same sentiments in Melville's work (or, in the case of the first quote) the public's reaction to his work.
Btw- I'm just cracking up reading this. Love Melville's absurd hilarity with Queequeg when Ishmael and he first met, and that the head-peddling cannibal makes for a better kinder human being than all of the "civilized" and Christian men that Ishmael had encountered. There's so much more but I'm beyond exhausted now. Will add more to the discussion soon!

Hope you are doing well me mateys!



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