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Moby-Dick - Reread > Chapter 35 through 44

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message 1: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 35. The Mast-Head
There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, striding along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea, even as ships once sailed between the boots of the famous Colossus at old Rhodes. There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves. The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor
Tell me that isn't poetry! It also sounds like one of the reasons Ishmael wanted to go to sea. Would you be able to concentrate on spotting whales better than Ishmael admits to? Did anybody get seasick reading this chapter?


message 2: by David (last edited Jul 31, 2018 08:27PM) (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 36. The Quarter-Deck
The chapter we have all been waiting for! At least I was. Ahab demonstrates he is quite the motivational speaker as he bends the crew, including a reluctant Starbuck, to his obsession of hunting Moby-Dick, the white whale that took his leg. One of my favorites lines in the book is Ahab making it clear he suffers disrespect from no body or thing:
Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.
And what of Ahab's assertion that, All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. This reminds me of Socrates and the cave. He even refers to man as "prisoners" If we are prisoners, who is the jailer?


message 3: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 37. Sunset
Now we are treated to three soliloquies and a play, a la Shakespeare, who:
Instead of being intimidated by Shakespeare, Melville dared to wonder whether he might be able to surpass him.
Philbrick, Nathaniel. Why Read Moby-Dick? Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
In the first soliloquy, Ahab contemplates on his relentless stubbornness of purpose, despite his simple resources, his lost lust for life, how he knowingly destroys himself in consolidated the crew to his purpose, prophesies his victory, and resolves to carry through with his purpose despite gods and men.

Is Melville taking on Homer as well as Shakespeare? I am reminded of Homer's "wine dark seas" in our recent read, Odyssesy
Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine.

Chapter 38. Dusk
In the second soliloquy, Starbuck laments his situation and weakness in opposing Ahab. He rests on the hope that there will not be enough time to find Moby-Dick in the great globe girdling expanse of sea.

He regrets the heathen nature (Impious, self-serving?) of the crew he must work with and compares the loud revelry of the crew in the front of the ship and the brooding silence of Ahab in the back end of the ship to the youth and old age of life. He sees this as a horror of the circumstances of living and vows to fight against the grim, phantom futures.


message 4: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 39. First Night-Watch
In the third soliloquy, Stubb decides to the wisest choice of action here is to just laugh it off and he recites a stanza from a poem to the effect. This note from the Power Moby-Dick may provide a clue that all is not right with Stubb's solution:
“We'll drink tonight...” This is from the poem “Sparkling and Bright” by Charles Fenno Hoffman, a friend of Herman Melville's who went insane in 1849
Power Moby-Dick: Chapter 39 First Night Watch

Does Stubb's "laugh at everything" approach to life condemn him to eventual insanity?

Chapter 40. Midnight, Forecastle
Finally, we are treated to a play of the multi-national sounds of a working whaling ship at night as the harpooners and sailors sing, talk, and almost start a fight before they need to lower the sails for a storm. Which of the sailor's speeches, if any, should we note here? I recall the scene in Jaws where Quint sang Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies!. And it was Pip that made the connection between a white squall and a while whale.


message 5: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 41. Moby Dick
Ishmael admits that, A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab's quenchless feud seemed mine. and concludes that while yet all a-rush to encounter the whale, could see naught in that brute but the deadliest ill.. In between Ishmael tells us what he has learned concerning the reputation of Moby-Dick. The reports sound like modern news casts of disasters, full of opinions and speculation with few reliable facts. We learn that an enraged Ahab tried to attack the Moby-Dick with a mere 6 inch knife resulting in the loss of his own leg. We are also told:
that ever since that almost fatal encounter, Ahab had cherished a wild vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell for that in his frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with him, not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations.
Ishmael also wonders at the infectious inertia that Ahab's obsession has transferred to the ship's crew.


message 6: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale
I hope you hung in there, it is difficult and apparently it takes a lot of words to try to explain why white is so scary. Even Ismael admits it’s a hard thing to explain.

White is often associated with the good, the holy, and the sublime, but when it is not, it signifies something terrifying.

Examples provided are polar bears, great white sharks, and the white albatross.

Albinism is often looked at negatively or even with revulsion. White seems to lend itself to supernaturalism, i.e., mists and ghosts.

I think he comes closest with these:
Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour; and at the same time the concrete of all colours; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows—a colourless, all-colour of atheism from which we shrink?
Congratulate yourself if you made it though this one. This is a notoriously difficult chapter that stops many readers.


message 7: by David (last edited Jul 31, 2018 08:39PM) (new)

David | 2696 comments Chapter 43. Hark!
The mystery in the hold deepens. First it was Stubb wondering if Ahab was napping in the hold. Now one sailor tells another while working near the hold that he heard some stranger in hold cough. Not only that he suspects Ahab knows all about it.

Chapter 44. The Chart
I will suppose that Lily smiled at Ahab's chart as another good example of association by cause and effect, or would it be contiguity, à la David Hume. Charts like the one Ahab uses may be found by Googling "Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Whale charts"

Ahab's best chance of crossing paths with Moby-Dick is by use of the chart he has indicating location where whales were spotted and the season. We also learn that the reason they left early, on Christmas day, was to allow Ahab the off-season to look for the white whale first, before the next whale season starts. Ahab studies and tweaks his charts daily with an intensity that causes Ishmael to compare this self-driven obsession that is eating Ahab's heart to the vulture that daily eats Prometheus' liver.

Ishmael tells us the efficacy of these charts and tells us they are not 100% accurate all the time, despite Ahab's conviction that they are, but they are effective enough that Starbuck's great hope of not being able to find Moby-Dick in all of the globe girdling oceans seems diminished a great deal.


message 8: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Adams | 328 comments *Writing as I read and think*

My honey at home often listens to me chatter about our excellent discussions and discoveries. He’s usually very patient. I could not however, win him over to the extracts etc. in the opening pages.
“There’s something worthwhile here?” He asked, with a deep sigh that Moby-Dick did not begin with our hero’s chosen name. My honey declared the sub-sub librarian’s writing to be awful.

I’m working on the theory that Ishmael, as we have come to call him, is actually the sub-sub librarian. He is a man creating his own identity. Writing his own life story.

While once a sub-sub librarian, his writing is exactly what you’d expect from someone sequestered away for years with academic books. The writing is literally a collection of things found in books, the author of this section has no life experience with the topic. And yeah, compared to the awesome adventure we’re now reading, the sub-sub librarian’s contribution is pretty awful. (Is the cetology section Ishmael reverting to his former self? Using familiar structures to make sense of new and baffling information.?)

So was Ishmael’s life, boring and comfortable, and devoid of experience, before he began to write his own identity.


message 9: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Adams | 328 comments The further Ishmael gets sucked into Ahab’s demented obsession, the less he seems to take responsibility or his actions. (The stage-script style in ch 36-40 illustrate my point. Only Ahab and the harpooners retain their names in ch 40).

Oh no, Ishmael! (Or so you are called.) Your own personal volition has pulled you from a life of academic melancholy, brought you to True Life Experience, and connected you to a bosom-friend. Do not get sucked into the clutches of vengeance! Lose not you sense of self! Embrace your ability to act!


message 10: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Adams | 328 comments In college I was a double major in English and Theater, so it comes as no surprise that ch 36-40 brought me particular delight. After ch 36 began (Enter Ahab: Then, all.) I thought, What? Are those stage directions? Chapter summaries? Have we been doing this all along?

We have not. Ch 36 represents a shift away from our narrator’s perspective. He barely even plays a character here.

I pondered the artistic shift and at the beginning of ch 37 had an epiphany. Our narrator (Ishmael?) is describing what happens when Ahab is alone. This works for an omniscient narrator, but not for ‘ol Ishmael. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this this section.


message 11: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "Tell me that isn't poetry! It also sounds like one of the reasons Ishmael wanted to go to sea. Would you be able to concentrate on spotting whales better than Ishmael admits to? Did anybody get seasick reading this chapter?..."

Without something to break up the sameness of it all -- a land mass, another ship, a whale -- this could get monotonous quickly. It wouldn't take long before you'd be looking right at a whale and not be seeing it. But you might have some great daydreams. Good time for journaling.


message 12: by David (last edited Aug 01, 2018 02:04PM) (new)

David | 2696 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Without something to break up the sameness of it all -- a land mass, another ship, a whale -- this could get monotonous quickly"

That quote describing war may apply to some degree, depending on how you spend your boredom, "Periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror."


message 13: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Cphe wrote: "Question:

"you cannot successfully shoot at them from the deck owing to the resistance of the water"

I've never thought of water as being resistant."


Water definitely stops most bullets. it slows them way down and causes some to just shatter.
http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2005/07/my...
https://www.scienceabc.com/eyeopeners...


The ideal is to get up high and shoot down on the whales as they are closer to the surface or ideally breaching or lying exposed on top of the water. The deck is generally two low and any intervening waves will make it tough to impossible for the bullet to get to the target intact or with enough velocity to do any damage.. Also, keep in mind, this is the 1840's - 1850's.

This is why, in war movies, you see the men diving underwater when the plane comes back and tries to shoot them. Its not just to make yourself harder to be seen, but to dive below the depth where the bullets become less lethal if you are hit. I know a man that was strafed while in the water. He survived by diving as deep as he could but still wears the scar he got from it.


message 14: by Adelle (last edited Aug 01, 2018 06:18PM) (new)

Adelle | 148 comments David wrote: "Chapter 39. First Night-Watch
."


You recalled Quint in Jaws.

yes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrpmv...

Here's the tune for the Our Captain Upon the Deck. Versions back even in 1700s. This particular version is not as cheery as the song in Moby Dick. http://gestsongs.com/08/greenland.htm


message 15: by Lily (last edited Aug 02, 2018 09:08PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments If (like me) you are still wading through these chapters, you may find useful these links to the Big Read version of them. I have tried to capture the length of each and the reader's name.

35 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 17.18 John Gullet
36 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 21.52 Jon Cleave
37 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 4.00 Raphaella Fearns
38 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 2.45 Jeff Lawson
39 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 1.52 Liberty Scarlett
40 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 13.35 Clive Charlton
41 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 28.45 Blake Morrison
42 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 26.24 Will Self
43 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 2.29 Julie Christian Young
44 http://www.mobydickbigread.com/chapte... 12.10 Philip Gourevitch


message 16: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #15 Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Without something to break up the sameness of it all -- a land mass, another ship, a whale -- this could get monotonous quickly. It wouldn't take long before you'd be looking right at a whale and not be seeing it. But you might have some great daydreams. Good time for journaling..."

The same, same, same. Probably why they had only 2-hour shifts up there. Also, the share (the lay) is probably a better motivator than a straight money amount.


message 17: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Chapter 44. The Chart

"...the squall that took place on the night succeeding that wild ratification of his purpose with his crew..." God/The Elements expressing displeasure over the blasphemy (as Starbuck labeled it).

"While thus employed, the heavy pewter lamp suspended in chains over his head, continually rocked ... and forever threw shifting gleams and shadows of lines ..." This brings us directly back to Jonah in Chapter 9, "The Sermon." ...a swinging lamp oscillates in Jonah's room...made obvious the false, lying levels......'Oh!.....the chambers of my soul are all in crookedness!'"

Ishmael has used the same adjective to describe his own nominal religion, the predictive ability of Yojo, and now whales. Chapter 10: "I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church." Chapter 16: "...Yojo purposed befriending us; and, in order to do so, had already pitched upon a vessel, which, if left to myself, I, Ishmael, should infallibly light upon." Chapter 44: "...the sperm whales, guided by some infallible instinct..." Does this tie in with "God is everywhere" and "Heed it well, ye Pantheists!"

Great closing line. "God help thee, old man, thy thoughts have created a creature in thee; and he whose intense thinking thus makes him a Prometheus; a vulture feeds upon that heart for ever; that vulture the very creature he creates."


message 18: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Cphe wrote: Pip seems pretty observant of human nature and refers to Ahab as an anaconda - I presumed he meant the stranglehold that he had upon his crew.."

Nice analogy! He even has Starbuck---almost against Starbuck's will.


message 19: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments I can't help thinking Moby Dick is like the Old Testament: a little bit poetry, a little bit history, a little bit literature, a little bit myth, a little bit polytheism, a little bit monotheism.


message 20: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "Chapter 37. Sunset
Now we are treated to three soliloquies and a play, a la Shakespeare, who:Instead of being intimidated by Shakespeare, Melville dared to wonder whether he might be able to surpas..."


Starbucks's calls his captain crazy; Ahab calls himself demonic. Chalk one up for Ahab. The man acts as if he's possessed by a (Moby Dick) demon.

And he's a little delusional . . .

Now, then, be the prophet and the fulfiller one. That's more than ye, ye great gods, ever were.

I'm betting his wife was glad to see him leave.

"How long shall ye be gone dear?"

"Three Years."

"Not 5?!!?"


message 21: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "In the second soliloquy, Starbuck laments his situation and weakness in opposing Ahab. He rests on the hope that there will not be enough time to find Moby-Dick in the great globe girdling expanse of sea...."

Ahab acts like he's possessed by a demon, and even calls himself demonic. Starbucks, sees Moby Dick as a demon let loose from the Underworld. Both Ahab and Starbucks are Christian (Quaker?). Are both seeing things through the prism of their religious beliefs? What would QQ, the Polynesian, think of Ahab and MD? Tashtego, the Native American? Daggoo, the African?


message 22: by Adelle (last edited Aug 03, 2018 06:39AM) (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Re Chapter 39. Cphe wrote: Pip seems pretty observant of human nature and refers to Ahab as an anaconda - I presumed he meant the stranglehold that he had upon his crew.."

Ran across the word 'strangling" this morning. And I noted it because I had just recently read Cphe's post/ "stranglehold." Love it.

I'm reading Modern Man in Search of a Soul because I'm viewing Moby Dick from a Jungian perspective. Xan Shadowflutter writes that "Starbucks sees Moby Dick as a demon let loose from the Underworld." I'm thinking that Underworld is Ahab's Unconscious.

Anyway. "It is hard to realize how badly we are fooled by the abuse of ideas; it even seems as if the unconscious has a way of strangling the physician in the coils of his own theory."


message 23: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Both Ahab and Starbucks are Christian (Quaker?)."

I am unsure about this. back in Chapter 16, Capt. Peleg told Ishmael,
He's a grand, ungodly, god-like man, Captain Ahab. . .
I am not sure how to interpret, "ungodly" here. On the other hand I am sure he must have his "papers" in order for Peleg and Bildad to allow him to captain the ship, unless allowances were made due to demonstrated skills, like they were for Queequeg.


message 24: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Ashley wrote: "I pondered the artistic shift and at the beginning of ch 37 had an epiphany. Our narrator (Ishmael?) is describing what happens when Ahab is alone. This works for an omniscient narrator, but not for ‘ol Ishmael. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this this section."

I liked this, but didn't think about it at the time past that fact Melville was trying to play Shakespeare here. Now I like it even more. It is a way for Melville to shift the perspective. I suppose we should be suspect that the narration at these points might be unreliable since Ishmael has no way of knowing their private thoughts, but in this case doing so would take away too much from what we need to know.


message 25: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "I am not sure how to interpret, "ungodly" here. On the other hand I am sure he must have his "papers" in order for Peleg and Bildad to allow him to captain the ship, unless allowances were made due to demonstrated skills, like they were for Queequeg...."

I doubt he's atheist or Jewish or Hindu or Pagan. Ungodly here might mean nothing more than Ahab doesn't live up to the standards preached. (Besides, I thought Peleg and his partner had a strange view of things and were a bit strange themselves.) This book, I think, is too biblical for Ahab not to know the bible. So, perhaps I should replace "Christian beliefs" with "biblical prophecy" or "biblical teachings." Those would be broader and perhaps more accurate.


message 26: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "This book, I think, is too biblical for Ahab not to know the bible. So, perhaps I should replace "Christian beliefs" with "biblical prophecy" or "biblical teachings." Those would be broader and perhaps more accurate."

He definitely would know the Bible. But I do think Ahab internally agonizes over the question.
All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks.. . .How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond.
This doubt that runs both ways is Melville expressing himself through Ahab.
Hawthorne wrote of Melville: "He can neither believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief; and he is too honest and courageous not to try to do one or the other. If he were a religious man, he would be truly one of the most truly religious and reverential; he has a very high and noble nature, and better worth immortality than most of us." (Quoted in Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick). . .Raised Calvinist, Melville became a member of the Church of All Souls (Unitarian), New York City. His writing was full of questioning, anguished doubt, and explorations of "good and evil."
https://ffrf.org/news/day/dayitems/it...



message 27: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments So far, only the mates and the captains have names. Melville considered Dagoo, Teshtego and Queequeg, non-whites, more important than the white sailors, all of them unnamed. This has any meaning in the narrative?

In my edition, a brazilian one, at that chapter all the sailors "speak" without accent. In the original text it's in the same way? Why only Queequeg speaks with accent?


message 28: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #32 Rafael wrote: "Why only Queequeg speaks with accent? .."

Good question. First, I thought, maybe a bit of comic relief. That doesn't seem like it. Now I think perhaps because Queequeg is an important character---worthy of having an actual character, his own voice... and the accent let's us better see the "more primitive" aspects of Queequeg---to contrast the others (Ishmael, Peleg, etc.) against him. And to show what is universal...what Qq and Ishmael, etc. all have in common as human beings.

{The other sailors...comparable to "the red shirts" on Star Trek. One knows they are not there to play any continuing part.}


message 29: by Adelle (last edited Aug 04, 2018 08:46AM) (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #2David wrote: "Chapter 36. The Quarter-Deck

And what of Ahab's assertion that, All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. This reminds me of Socrates and the cave. He even refers to man as "prisoners" If we are prisoners, who is the jailer? ..."


I found all these chapters more of a struggle. What is Melville trying to make us think?

I do think that in this chapter Melville is showing us a linkage between Ahab and Moby Dick. "Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queequeg...at the mention of the wrinkled brow and crooked jaw they had started." Ahab: His "ribbed and dented brow." Both are scarred; Moby Dick is white, Ahab has that lividly whitish scar; they both contain whale bone.

I was intrigued, too, with Ahab: "my vengeance will fetch a great premium here." Stubb: "He smites his chest" The place of one's heart. A reference back to Bildad's "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"....Stubb's: "...methinks it rings most vast, but hollow." No heart? No soul?

EDIT ADDED: "...for as the soul is glued inside of its fleshy tabernacle, and cannot freely move about in it, nor even move out of it, without running great risk of perishing..."


message 30: by Adelle (last edited Aug 04, 2018 08:43AM) (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #2 David wrote: "Chapter 36. The Quarter-Deck
He even refers to man as "prisoners" If we are prisoners, who is the jailer? .."


Might we be our own jailers? Ahab: "Who is over me? Truth hath no confines." {"I am the master of my fate." https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem...} Right or wrong, Ahab is out there searching for his truth, though he knows full well the might and fury and danger of Moby Dick. Moby Dick "dismasted" him! But like that dismasting off Japan on the voyage with Peleg, Ahab is out sailing again. Might that be the voyage that decided Peleg to stay ashore?

Bulkington is searching. Ishmael is searching---not as intensely or as focused as Ahab.... Ishmael drifts off while he's on whale/truth- sighting duty.

Starbuck is courageous... but "the fall of valor in his soul" will be exposed.

Stubb clings to comfort... "the comfortable arrangement of his part of the boat," he had "converted the jaws of death into an easy chair," his love of "a comfortable dinner." He's prefers the lee shore.

Flask, "utterly lost was he to all sense of reverence...so dead to ...[the danger of the whales...viewing them as mice].

Which one had said his eleventh rule was,"Don't think"...?

Couple of items speak, I think, to people's NOT pursuing their way out of their self-prisons. It's comfortable inside. And plenty there is to give our attention to: our inner compasses are subject to "the errors resulting from what is called the 'local attraction.'"

Some sign on for the voyage, but need to be upbraided "with not the feeling sufficient 'interest' in the voyage.....in their secret souls they would rather not see whales than otherwise."


message 31: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments I don't know what's coming from one chapter to another, not just content but style.


message 32: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "Finally, we are treated to a play of the multi-national sounds of a working whaling ship at night as the harpooners and sailors sing, talk, and almost start a fight before they need to lower the sails for a storm..."

Shows the diversity, universality, and strangeness of unity amidst differences for the time period. Pub-like but what pub on shore would have such a diverse clientele. Perhaps one in a whaling town?


message 33: by Xan (last edited Aug 04, 2018 09:32AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "Chapter 41. Moby Dick
Ishmael admits that, A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab's quenchless feud seemed mine. and concludes that while yet all a-rush to encounter the whale, cou..."


----------------------------

"This is much; yet Ahab's larger, darker, deeper part remains unhinted."

That's quite dark! and shows, I think, how unreachable Ahab is. Several references have been made to Moby dick's malignancy (an interesting word). Well, now Ahab's malignancy matches his nemesis's. The poor crew is just going to get in the way -- pawns.

What's in the aft hold?


message 34: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #37 Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Shows the diversity, universality, and strangeness of unity amidst differences for the time period..."

Capitalism? "He pays reg'lar." Your papers, please? Oh, you can hit the mark and make us money. Sign here.


message 35: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments And how do Peleg and his partner react to Ahab's descent into madness:

... far from distrusting his fitness for another whaling voyage, on account of such dark symptoms, the calculating people of that prudent isle were inclined to harbor the conceit, that for those very reasons he was all the better qualified and set on edge, for a pursuit so full of rage and wildness as the bloody hunt of whales.

Some Quakers!


message 36: by Xan (last edited Aug 04, 2018 09:33AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments Adelle wrote: "Capitalism? "He pays reg'lar." Your papers, please? Oh, you ..."

Adelle,

Yes, I've thought of capitalism more than once during this read.


message 37: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #3 "Chapter 37. Sunset"

Alone. "The cabin; by the stern windows; Ahab sitting alone, and gazing out." Guess I'll push this way out there. Cabin=a small, enclosed, safe place from which one emerges... Re-birth possible?

Windows---and the fact that Ahab is gazing out: He's looking for more...scanning his horizons. Windows can symbolize the soul. MMM.... I wonder.... as the stern [the back] window is identified... is the take-away that Ahab is looking to his past...consumed by what happened to him rather than learning [perhaps like Starbuck] and building his life going forward.... he has a new family... he's not dead... a bit akin to Lot's wife?
http://www.answers.com/Q/What_does_a_...

Alone. Alan Watts... one must go alone to find enlightenment.https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=...

Ahab: "is, then, the crown too heavy that I wear?...this Iron Crown of Lombardy" Ahab, "with crucifixion in his face." Does he represent... or think of himself... as a Christ-like figure. {https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Cr...}

And that marvelous line: "The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run."


message 38: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Lily wrote: "If (like me) you are still wading through these chapters, you may find useful these links to the Big Read version of them. I have tried to capture the length of each and the reader's name.

35 http..."


Lily! I've begun listening to these. Wonderful!


message 39: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments Adelle wrote: "Lily wrote: "If (like me) you are still wading through these chapters, you may find useful these links to the Big Read version of them. I have tried to capture the length of each and the reader's n..."

Yes, I'm going to sit at my computer reading along while the narrator reads aloud. (Sounds suspiciously like what the proctors of those national tests said all those years ago: "Plead read along while I read the instructions aloud.")


message 40: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #3 David wrote: "Chapter 37. Sunset...[Starbuck} He rests on the hope that there will not be enough time to find Moby-Dick in the great globe girdling expanse of sea.
..."


(By the Mainmast; Starbuck leaning against it.)

David, your use of the word "rest"... :-) Starbuck doesn't have the strength to stand against Ahab. He's leaning/resting on the Mainmast for support. He's hoping --- a non-action word...HOPING that Ahab doesn't find the whale... and then Starbuck won't be forced to take a stand.

The mainmast, I read, is middle mast. Starbuck, perhaps, is hoping ... to take some impossible middle route... "to obey, rebelling," "to hate with touch of pity."

"The white whale is their demogorgon" NICE literary history. Demogorgon was taken up by Christian writers as a demon of Hell:

Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon
— John Milton, Paradise Lost II. 966.

Note, however, Milton does not refer to the inhabitants of Hell, but of an unformed region where Chaos rules with Night. In Milton's epic poem Satan passes through this region while traveling from Hell to Earth.

Demogorgon's name was earlier invoked by Faustus in Scene III of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (1590) when the eponymous Doctor summons Mephistopheles with a Latin incantation."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogorgon


message 41: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments David wrote: "Chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale
I hope you hung in there, it is difficult and apparently it takes a lot of words to try to explain why white is so scary. Even Ismael admits it’s a hard thing..."


I enjoyed the references to the blindness caused by the white of snow everywhere, the infinity of the milky way, the universe. One can get lost in its sameness the same way one can get lost in the sameness of the horizon while scanning it from the crow's nest.

MD is a white whale of distinct proportions swimming in a dark ocean, but I suppose if you stare long enough at his whiteness and only at his whiteness you can get lost, even hypnotized, in the sameness of it all. Over all, except for the last couple of paragraphs, this chapter didn't work for me.


message 42: by Xan (last edited Aug 05, 2018 08:04AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 387 comments I'm surprised Melville doesn't mention what I think is most obvious when discussing the effect of the whiteness of the white whale: that such a beast is an oddity -- no scratch that; it is unique -- that a completely white whale shouldn't be, and that, in itself, is concerning and otherworldly.

Edit: And I now have to take that back. Evidently there is a white humpback whale, but no sperm whales that I am aware of. But still an oddity.


message 43: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Adelle wrote: "At #2 David wrote: "Chapter 36. The Quarter-Deck. . .He even refers to man as "prisoners" If we are prisoners, who is the jailer?. . .Might we be our own jailers? Ahab: "Who is over me? Truth hath no confines. . ."

I feel this speech by Ahab is a pivotal one deserving a much deeper look. Through what I admit are my own filters, Ahab seems to be railing against a seemingly existential and absurd situation, terms that were not quite in use at the time. I think Socrates' allegory of the cave is alluded to here, instead of the visible objects being being the unreal images or shadows of forms, they are pasteboard masks. The prisoners in the cave are chained and can only see the shadows. Ahab see's truth as unconfined an unreachable by humanity as prisoners in an absurd situation. Ahab does not know of the whale represents the agent, or the fire that casts the shadows on the wall or if the whale is the principle, the sun outside of the cave, ie., God, or the greatest good. He is a prisoner in the cave and he thinks by killing the white whale that demonstrated his own mortality to him he will be able to break out of the prison, and eventually lead himself and others to the truth, which as Father Mapple informed us, was, in addition to not sinning and being grateful for the consequences of sin, an extra burden placed on himself as pilot, i.e., ship captains.


message 44: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1604 comments Ashley wrote: "I pondered the artistic shift and at the beginning of ch 37 had an epiphany. Our narrator (Ishmael?) is describing what happens when Ahab is alone. This works for an omniscient narrator, but not for ‘ol Ishmael. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this this section..."

There is a constant shift in points of view.
Chapter 37—Ahab 1st person point of view
Chapter 38—Starbuck 1st person point of view
Chapter 39—Stubbs 1st person point of view
Chapter 41—Ishmael 1st person point of view

David's characterization of Chapters 37-39 as Shakespearean soliloquies is a good way to describe them. But the shift in points of view is jarring. Chapter 41 is back to Ishmael's first person point of view, but then it seems to transition to limited omniscient. He describes how MD snapped off Ahab’s leg:

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.

How does Ishmael know this? And how does he know of Ahab's gradual descent into madness?

First person point of view gives us unfiltered access to a person's thoughts. I'm guessing that's why Melville does it. But I'm not sure what else we gain--if anything--by these shifting points of view.


message 45: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1604 comments Whiteness, as Ishmael tells us is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour. It is a clean slate on which you can project whatever you want.

Ahab chooses to see MD as evil, as the source of all his problems:

not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations. The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung.

For Ahab, MD personifies all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down.

In Ishmael’s description, MD assumes mythic proportions. He is clothed in superstition and fear of the unknown. He is man's mortal enemy: continually to be athirst for human blood; is ubiquitous; had been encountered in opposite latitudes at one and the same instant of time. Some thought him to be immortal; impervious to pain; easily recognizable by his snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical white hump.
MD is intelligent—swims away from his would-be captors and then suddenly turns and charges straight at them.

Moby Dick is a whale using his intelligence and all the means at his disposal to survive. His whiteness is a white canvas waiting to be painted by the artist in whatever colors and brush strokes he/she chooses.

I think it is interesting that other than Ahab, the only people who have seen Moby Dick are Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queequeg. They are the first to recognize Ahab is speaking of MD and are able to describe him. Starbuck recognizes it was MD that took Ahab’s leg but has only heard of him.

I'm wondering if this suggests something about the three non-Westerners. Perhaps they are more sensitive to and/or in touch with their instincts and/subconscious levels than their Western counterparts.


message 46: by David (new)

David | 2696 comments Tamara wrote: "How does Ishmael know this? And how does he know of Ahab's gradual descent into madness?
"


First, Ishmael does have the advantage of telling the story in hindsight, and apparently after some time to reflect, "never mind how long", and much research.

Secondly, It seems to me that getting to the first person perspective in the style of a play, they way Shakespeare does in his many soliloquies, is a more honest attempt at first person than just switching to first person. We don't really expect Shakespear's soliloquies to be 100 percent accurate either, but instead to seem a reasonable, and poetic guess, to which Ishmael may after the events to come be of some authority.


message 47: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1604 comments David wrote: "Secondly, It seems to me that getting to the first person perspective in the style of a play, they way Shakespeare does in his many soliloquies, is a more honest attempt at first person than just switching to first person. .."

I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're making here.


message 48: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments At #48 David wrote: "I feel this speech (Chapter 36) by Ahab is a pivotal one deserving a much deeper look. Through what I admit are my own filters, Ahab seems to be railing against a seemingly existential ... situation ..."

Quite right. The Quarter-Deck, Moby Dick, The Whiteness... all three seem important chapters---pivotal, as you say... but so darn difficult to grasp anything solid.


message 49: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 148 comments Chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale

It's Complicated


message 50: by Lily (last edited Aug 05, 2018 08:05PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Adelle wrote: "Lily! I've begun listening to these. Wonderful! ..."

Glad you are enjoying them! I quite agree. Much better than my Audible recording (haven't gone back and checked who is the reader on the one I have -- if I recall correctly, more than one is available.)

Trivia practical footnote: (view spoiler)

Like Xan, I follow on my PC kindle copy as I listen.


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