Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun

This is one of the chapters that really inspired me to do this blog.

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The casual reader of Moby Dick, which I must assume exists because I was one, would come across this and be utterly confused. What the heck is a Heidelburgh Tun, and why is it being talked about like it’s some sort of famous reference that everyone knows? It’s a question that cries out for answering. This is the one that really got me started in on researching all these obscure 19th century references. Continue reading “Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun”

Chapter 76: The Battering-Ram

Boy I sure hope you’re ready for more whale physiology!

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Continuing on with our little run of non-narrative chapters, today we’re getting a close examination of the sperm whale’s powerful forehead. Of course, this being Moby Dick, it has some deep philosophical implications that would drive a man mad if he fully understood them. Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 76: The Battering-Ram”

A War among the Stars

Man, where do you even begin?

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Star Wars is many things to many people. It has changed genres many times as the series has gone on, drawing from many different points of inspiration. It used to be the very symbol of outsider auteurship succeeding in the face of Hollywood studios, and now it’s part of the great Disney media conglomerate. It is modern mythology, and has been interpreted and reinterpreted many times. Continue reading “A War among the Stars”

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 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 53: The Gam

Okay, I misremembered the sequence of events just a bit. There is no actual gam in this chapter, in fact there are no events at all! It’s another non-narrative chapter, turns out.

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There’s a whoooooole Thing about the various gams the Pequod has over the course of its fatal voyage. The names of the various ships and captains, the condition of the crews, the stories they have to tell, and so on. It is rich with symbolic meaning, but it is not yet time to really plunge into those particular deep, dark waters. Continue reading “Chapter 53: The Gam”

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 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 46: Surmises

Now that we are properly grounded in the fictional reality of this book, we can get to the business at hand: psychoanalyzing Ahab!

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Haha no not really, psychoanalysis wouldn’t be invented for like 70 years after this book was written. But we are getting more insight into his internal processes. Or, at any rate, some educated guesses about it. Continue reading “Chapter 46: Surmises”

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”