Chapter 60: The Line

Oof, it’s been a while, huh? Sorry I haven’t been getting these out as frequently lately, I’ve been busy with school stuff. And also several extremely good videogames that I hope to write about some time.

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Today’s chapter is a nice meaty one. A bit of whaling paraphernalia and trivia leads Ishmael off onto a philosophical reverie, the usual bit. It is an interesting subject, though, and quite worth the space dedicated to it. Continue reading “Chapter 60: The Line”

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”

Chapter 57: Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in the Stars

You thought chapter titles couldn’t get any longer? You fool. You absolute buffoon. Melville has no sympathy, and is following no rulebook.

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This chapter is kind of a transition into a different mood from the previous two. Instead of a critical survey of art from the learned eye of an expert, it’s of Ishmael as a man reflecting on the nature of art and the world it inhabits. So yeah, I think I can find something to talk about here. Continue reading “Chapter 57: Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in 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 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 45: The Affidavit

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.

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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”

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”