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.
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”
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.
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.”
Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.
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”
Here we go! Time to go kill a god damned sea monster!
Or, make an attempt, at any rate. It’s really a very difficult thing, taking down such a large and powerful creature. Of course, we humans have made our bones on taking down things much larger and more powerful than ourselves. Perhaps the whale itself is not always the biggest obstacle, though. Continue reading “Chapter 48: The First Lowering”
Ah, what a perfect time of year to read this chapter, in particular.
The weather has been much like that described in this chapter, lately. As it is the Pacific Northwest, we have a certain reputation to keep up with regards to sunshine and a lack thereof, but it is still very pleasant in the summer. When the temperature hovers in the low to mid 70s (fahrenheit, of course), and it gets just a little humid, it is just the most seductive and perfect weather imaginable. Continue reading “Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker”
Now that we are properly grounded in the fictional reality of this book, we can get to the business at hand: psychoanalyzing Ahab!
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”
Okay, let’s get back into it with a nice, meaty chapter. We’re getting into some interesting metatexutal territory here, blurring the line between Melville and Ishmael.
Technically, I think this whole thing is just more of Old Ishmael, based on the general tone and tendency towards exhortation and exclamation. But it’s also very much a bibliography slipped into the text itself, and I must say it’s more pleasant to read than the ones you usually see!
Continue reading “Chapter 45: The Affidavit”
Okay, so this is embarrassing.
I totally forgot to do this chapter! It is super short, again, and doesn’t have any thematic or philosophical business to speak of. Let’s make this quick, for once!
SUMMARY: As they are refilling the scuttlebutt one night, a Spanish sailor hears something in the forward hold and tells his friend Archy, who heard nothing and doesn’t believe him. Continue reading “Chapter 43: Hark!”
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?
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”
Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.
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”