Chapter 59: Squid

Since we learned about what right whales and their baleen’d cousins eat in the last chapter, let’s learn about the diet of one Moby Dick and his kin.

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Often have I heard philosophical or poetic reveries based around the idea that whales, the largest creatures on earth, subsist entirely by eating the smallest, microscopic plankton. Well, turns out that only applies to some whales, not all of them. While the peaceful, calm, and pleasant right whales are perfectly happy to ply the meadows of the sea for their brit, the sperm whale desires something more exciting. They want a food that is gonna fight back. Continue reading “Chapter 59: Squid”

Chapter 58: Brit

Enough ruminations about various depictions of whales! Let’s just all agree that true life experiences are very difficult to convey and that the skill of it belongs only to the great masters of craft among us.

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Today, we’re talking about a much smaller subject: brit, that food that whales crave. Not the whales that Ahab and co. are actually hunting, but the right whale and some other kinds of whale that do not produce enough or the right kind of oil to be noticed. Continue reading “Chapter 58: Brit”

IT and Modern Theodicy: The Big Black Blob Problem

I have a hankering to dig deeper into an issue that came up in a recent Moby Dick post, but is an example of a larger issue in media.

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In that post, I talked about theodicy, the practice of explaining why there is evil in the world when God is supposed to be both all-powerful and benevolent towards humanity. The one I talked about there was an ancient theodicy, from the book of Job. But today, I’d like to talk about the modern form this has taken, as best exemplified in the Stephen King novel/miniseries/film IT. Continue reading “IT and Modern Theodicy: The Big Black Blob Problem”

Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

And now, for something completely different.

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A Richard III Whale

After that incredibly long and detailed short story, that microcosm for the book as a whole encapsulated in a single chapter, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned non-narrative chapter where Ishmael yells at clouds. Or, rather, yells at artists for not knowing what whales look like. Continue reading “Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales”

Chapter 54: The Town-Ho’s Story

Uff dah fee tah. This chapter… this chapter is a trial.

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I’ve tried to write this post like three times now, and I keep getting way too far out in the weeds, just trying to, like, summarize what even happens. There’s just way too much. If you want the full story, you gotta read it yourself, I’m sorry. This is gonna be more of a… loose reflections kind of post. Continue reading “Chapter 54: The Town-Ho’s Story”

Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout

Now that we’ve formally begun hunting whales and been introduced to Ahab’s secret whaling crew, it’s time to get a move on, physically and narratively.

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For once, the passage of time and tide will not be marked merely by a descent into endless pontification on the nature of whales and whaling or whatever philosophical nonsense Ishmael has decided to linger on for far too many pages. No, we get a proper bit of narrative to connect things together here. Continue reading “Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout”

Chapter 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.

Ahhh, I had a nice vacation, of sorts. Really, I was just dog- and housesitting, I never got much further than a mile from my house, but I was away from my computer, and thus could not continue this blog. But it’s good to be back! And for a nice big, round number, no less.

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This chapter is a good one. I actually took notes on it before my vacation, and to dig them out again to refresh my memory. As you’d guess, it’s dealing with some of the fallout from the revelation of Ahab’s secret stowaway crew and personal whaling boat, as well as digging into some themes that I’ve really been ruminating on over my summer break. Continue reading “Chapter 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.”

Chapter 49: The Hyena

Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.

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We’re going to zoom in on Ishmael, which is something that’s been more and more rare since the launch of the final voyage of the Pequod. Early on, he was the focus of every chapter, our point of view into this new world of whaling, but in the grand scheme of the story being told, he’s not particularly relevant. Continue reading “Chapter 49: The Hyena”

Chapter 44: The Chart

Now that we’ve got all the finnicky business of epistemological impossibility out of the way, we have some more practical matters to worry about: how do you find a whale?

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You can sit around thinking and wondering all day, but you’re not gonna get anywhere unless you take action, and Ahab is our man of action in this story. While Ishmael lays and ruminates in his favorite perch among the rigging, Ahab is busy far below. Continue reading “Chapter 44: The Chart”

Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale

Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.

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What’s fun, at least to me, about this book is that it takes its own turn at explaining the symbolism and themes. You get a sort of inside perspective on things. I can see why it would be attractive to teachers who want to impart these concepts, but the language is just too challenging for it to really work. A book that is about symbols is going to end up being too convoluted to analyze at a high school level. Continue reading “Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale”