Chapter 85: The Fountain

Alright, back into the weeds we go.

A still from the 2006 film The Fountain, unrelated to this post
Not that The Fountain

This week’s chapter is, as they say, a doozy. Not that it is especially long, but it is dense, and comes to a surprising conclusion at the end. We’re back to pure non-narrative stuff, pontification on the nature of whales, in this case a specific part of their biology: the breath. This one requires a bit of cutting through the underbrush of 19th century vocabulary, but if you can manage that, it’s quite fun. Continue reading “Chapter 85: The Fountain”

Chapter 84: Pitchpoling

Ah, after a couple of chapters of non-narrative philosophizing, we get back to a bit of whale hunting.

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This one is kind of tricky, I’m not sure if I’m really going to be able to wring a lot of philosophical meaning out of it, but there is a mystery to be solved. Namely: what the heck is pitchpoling, actually? Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 84: Pitchpoling”

Reflections in Reflections of Crystal: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and the Nature of Fiction

Most metafiction is bad, I find.

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Almost always, when authors start getting into the weeds on the nature of reality, twisting things around and trying to play with the idea of characters within a story knowing that they’re fictional, I find it incredibly boring. It serves as a kind of excuse for not doing the hard work of writing actual characters or events with meaning. You simply point at the fourth wall and say “look at it! I’m doing something interesting here!” Continue reading “Reflections in Reflections of Crystal: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and the Nature of Fiction”

Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s head—Contrasted View

I bet you never could’ve guessed this chapter title. Not in a million years.

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In this chapter, we learn a bit more about the other whale, the one the southern whalers usually spurn, at least these days. And by “these days” I of course mean the 1840s, when this book was written. Nowadays, nobody is out hunting whales, except the Makah of the Washington coast, and the Japanese, probably. Continue reading “Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s head—Contrasted View”

Chapter 73: Stubb & Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk over Him

Man, what a chapter title.

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After so many chapters titled “The [noun]”, we get an old fashioned summary, like this is a danged penny dreadful or dime novel. Also, apparently hunting a whale is now a single-chapter affair, or half a chapter, as we’ll soon see. The real focus is on the eponymous Talk. Continue reading “Chapter 73: Stubb & Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk over Him”

Chapter 68: The Blanket

I hope you are all weathering these quarantine times well, shipmates.

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As for me, things have been busy, and slow at the same times. I’ve been pulled in a million different directions, and yet feel little to no motivation to actually get things done. Thus, my attention has returned to this blog, thinking perhaps the old fashioned folksy ways of Ishmael may ignite some interest in me. And, indeed, this is a pretty fun chapter. Enough preamble, let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 68: The Blanket”

Dungeons & Dragons & Colonialism

So, there’s been a bit of Discourse going on lately in certain circles of the internet, which I happen to find myself in, regarding good ol’ Dungeons & Dragons.

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Particularly, a description of orcs from the 5th edition rulebook has caught a lot of flak for being, um, pretty damn racist. There have also been people coming out and just saying that D&D has always been a racist and colonialist game anyway, so this is nothing surprising. Continue reading “Dungeons & Dragons & Colonialism”

Chapter 65: The Whale as a Dish

I’m back again!

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I apologize for these long breaks between posts lately. I’ve been very busy with the college quarter winding down, and also the whole pandemic thing going has been very stressful. But with the quarter finally over, I feel at least part of my burden eased for a time, so I will be able to deliver these snippets of wisdom on a more regular schedule.

Thankfully, today’s chapter makes for a bit lighter reading than last week’s, being mostly concerned with the meal that Stubb was partaking in rather than the social dynamics at play around it. Continue reading “Chapter 65: The Whale as a Dish”

Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper

Okay, I’ve been dragging my feet with this one, but I guess I just have to bite the gamey whale steak and get it over with.

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This chapter is… difficult to talk about, as a person who likes this book and wants to convince other people to read it. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a book from pre-civil war America, so there are certain subjects that are not going to handled as, uh, delicately as you would hope, particularly anything involving black people. I’ve touched on it a couple times already, but this is where it’s really unavoidable, because we have a whole heaping helping of dialog with a black character, who is of course speaking in a dialect that Melville has painstakingly replicated in the text for our… enjoyment. Continue reading “Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper”

Chapter 62: The Dart

Now, for a short bit of of professional criticism.

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Not from me, mind you, but from one Ishmael, who has noticed a few problems with how this whole whaling operation is being run. Like all insider suggestions, born of hard experience, it is very specific and points to something I noticed before, which was probably just me remembering this specific chapter and blurting it out like it was my idea.

Continue reading “Chapter 62: The Dart”