Chapter 74: A Sperm Whale’s Head—Contrasted View

Okay, this may be a little less philosophical than I remembered.

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But, I will find a way to make it so, in my particular way. Not to say that Ishmael stays squarely on topic for the whole chapter, such a thing has almost never happened, but it isn’t the feast of direct philosophical references I was assuming. I guess it is just that one off-handed remark from the last chapter, where he calls one head Locke and the other Kant. I remember a lot about Kant from my philosophical studies, but little about Locke, so I couldn’t expand much on that anyway. Continue reading “Chapter 74: A Sperm Whale’s Head—Contrasted View”

Chapter 71: The Jeroboam’s Story

Alright, now we are back in it.

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Jeroboam sacrificing to his idol, oil on canvas by Claes Corneliszoon Moeyaert, 1641

Today’s chapter is a lengthy one, featuring the tale of another whaling ship that the Pequod comes across on that vast, wild plain of the Pacific Ocean. They hear the story of this ship, another wild tale that happens to be incredibly relevant to their own quest. Let’s listen in, shall we? Continue reading “Chapter 71: The Jeroboam’s Story”

Chapter 70: The Sphynx

See? I said I would start posting more regularly, and here I am at it again, less than a week later.

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This chapter is a fun one, kind of a bridge between narrative and non-narrative. You get a bit of everything, including a return to Ahab being extremely portentous all the time. Let’s get into it! Continue reading “Chapter 70: The Sphynx”

Chapter 68: The Blanket

I hope you are all weathering these quarantine times well, shipmates.

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As for me, things have been busy, and slow at the same times. I’ve been pulled in a million different directions, and yet feel little to no motivation to actually get things done. Thus, my attention has returned to this blog, thinking perhaps the old fashioned folksy ways of Ishmael may ignite some interest in me. And, indeed, this is a pretty fun chapter. Enough preamble, let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 68: The Blanket”

Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper

Okay, I’ve been dragging my feet with this one, but I guess I just have to bite the gamey whale steak and get it over with.

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This chapter is… difficult to talk about, as a person who likes this book and wants to convince other people to read it. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a book from pre-civil war America, so there are certain subjects that are not going to handled as, uh, delicately as you would hope, particularly anything involving black people. I’ve touched on it a couple times already, but this is where it’s really unavoidable, because we have a whole heaping helping of dialog with a black character, who is of course speaking in a dialect that Melville has painstakingly replicated in the text for our… enjoyment. Continue reading “Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper”

Chapter 61: Stubb Kills a Whale

You’ll never guess what happens in this chapter.

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Yes, finally, at long last, we have a successful hunt for a whale! After so many false starts and missed opportunities, the crew is able to successfully do their job. This, of course, leads into a new little arc for the book, as we learn how a successfully hunted whale is processed at sea. Continue reading “Chapter 61: Stubb Kills a Whale”

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 56: Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes

So, now that we’ve heard all about (and seen, thanks to the magic of the internet) some truly awful pictures of whales, it’s time for the good ones!

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Beale

Or, barring that, at least the ones that are acceptable, at a base level. Even the finest artists do not quite live up to the reality of the sperm whale, if Ishmael is to be believed. Continue reading “Chapter 56: Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes”

Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

And now, for something completely different.

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A Richard III Whale

After that incredibly long and detailed short story, that microcosm for the book as a whole encapsulated in a single chapter, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned non-narrative chapter where Ishmael yells at clouds. Or, rather, yells at artists for not knowing what whales look like. Continue reading “Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales”

Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker

Ah, what a perfect time of year to read this chapter, in particular.

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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”