Chapter 35: The Mast-Head

Sorry for the break in updates there, I had a very busy week and then a cold. Still just barely getting over the later, but I had an urge to do some bloggin’.

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So, today’s chapter returns us squarely to non-narrative status, with what amounts to a bunch of whaling trivia, at first glance. It is, in fact, very revealing about the character of both young and old Ishmael. It’s one of the more evocative chapters, getting us back to some of that fun prose we had very early on. Continue reading “Chapter 35: The Mast-Head”

Good Kings and Bad Kings

There are some things in media which only reveal themselves after you are able to articulate them.

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For me, one of the big ones was queer-coded villains. It was like having a veil dropped from my eyes, seeing the way that difference of identity was being codified as cruel and evil, the way that outsider status was subtly equated over and over again with being Bad, in one way or another. Continue reading “Good Kings and Bad Kings”

Chapter 31: Queen Mab

Who doesn’t love a good description of somebody else’s dream? What’s that? Everyone? Everyone doesn’t love that?

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Well, too bad, that’s what this chapter is about. Luckily, while it is rather accurate to vague recollections of dreams in some ways, it is not quite as awful as having to hear about a real dream. This is still a piece of literature, Melville knows what he’s doing. Continue reading “Chapter 31: Queen Mab”

Chapter 23: The Lee Shore

Ah, this chapter.

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This is one of the shorter ones in this massive tome. Not the shortest, I don’t think, there’s a chapter later on that’s only a single paragraph. But this one is definitely punching above its weight class when it comes to interesting thematic and philosophical meat to chew on versus length. Continue reading “Chapter 23: The Lee Shore”

Chapter 18: His Mark

Now that Queequeg’s religious obligations have been dealt with, we can get back to the business at hand: going on a whaling voyage! Or at least preparing for one.

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This is a nice little chapter, we get some more of Peleg and Bildad, and see the contrast of how they treat Ishmael and his bosom pal. We’ve got some real forward narrative momentum at this point, I don’t think there’s another fully non-narrative chapter until they’re off on the voyage proper. Continue reading “Chapter 18: His Mark”

Chapter 16: The Ship

Well, I’ve got my work cut out for me today. This recent run of chapters has been easy, I even had to go off on a wild tangent of my own to find any substance in the last one. But this one? There’s just… there’s a lot. There’s a lot in sheer number of words, in different tones, themes, and just in moving parts, compared to other chapters, in general.

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So, this’ll probably be a long one. Be forewarned! Continue reading “Chapter 16: The Ship”

Chapter 15: Chowder

Today we’ve got another fun chapter on our hands, but one that moves the plot a bit more. Ishmael and Queequeg have to get themselves situated on Nantucket, so they can look around and find a ship to ship with.

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Sorry I’m a little late this week, I was off dogsitting again. It’s nice to take a bit of time away from the old computer desk every now and then. But let us get on with it! Continue reading “Chapter 15: Chowder”

Capitalism: Only for No Reason

It’s cliche to blame things on capitalism. But it’s such a vague thing, only one step removed from blaming it on some amorphous concept like “greed” or even “sin”. When I say that capitalism “makes things worse” it’s easy to dismiss, because it is so very vague.

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So. Let me get specific. Continue reading “Capitalism: Only for No Reason”

Purpose: It’s a Racket

Last week, I was told to “find my life’s purpose”. It was in a very well-meaning context, just a sort of generic bit of encouraging life advice. But it really struck me, because I’ve thought before about how the idea of life having a purpose at all is some real bullshit.

 

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Aesthetics and Evil

So, I’ve been thinking about something lately. It’s a bit hard to explain, having to do with a lot of sort of vague concepts that I am not particularly educated on. But I will endeavor to be as clear as possible.

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This has to do with how evil is presented in fiction, and in media in general. Bad guys, acts of cruelty and violence, and those who perpetrate it. The power of aesthetics to shape the way that people view the world around them. The morality of using the finely honed skills of modern artists to push an ideological agenda, and what effect that can have even, and especially, when it’s unintentional. Continue reading “Aesthetics and Evil”