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.
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”
Uff dah fee tah. This chapter… this chapter is a trial.
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
So, now that we know what Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, and the crew in general think of the events of The Quarter-Deck, who could possibly be left to weight in? Is there some important character who has been neglected?
Oh yes, there is that novice whaleman, named himself after some biblical figure, obviously not his real name, what was it again? Isaiah? Ezekiel? Ishmael! That was it, let’s hear what good ol’ Ishmael has to say about all this. Continue reading “Chapter 41: Moby Dick”
So, now that we’ve checked in on the officer class of the ship (minus Flask, who barely counts), it’s time to see how the rest of the crew is reacting. Since so few of them are actual, established, important characters, they don’t get whole individual chapters, not even the harpooneers.
But, what they do get is a fun format change! This chapter is written entirely in the style of a stage play. I’ve never heard of it being staged, but I wouldn’t doubt that some high school or college that was particularly arts-oriented has done it once or twice. Continue reading “Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle”
Let us now turn our attention to the recipient of Ahab’s fiery, blasphemous words, one Starbuck of Nantucket. How’s he holding up?
Well, he left the scene fearing for the the soul of himself and everyone else on the ship, so I’m gonna guess “not well”. Alas, Starbuck is doomed to be a tragic figure, as we already know from Ishmael’s preemptive eulogy. Continue reading “Chapter 38: Dusk”