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Moby Dick: Creatures of the Deep, Chapters 55-60

Since I don't see a thread dedicated to these chapters, I'm starting one!
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Chapter 56: "The French are the lads for painting action."

[ Edited ]
... taken for all in all, by far the finest, though in some details not the most correct, presentations of whales and whaling scenes to be anywhere found, are two large French engravings, well executed, and taken from paintings by one Garnery. Respectively, they represent attacks on the Sperm and Right Whale. In the first engraving a noble Sperm Whale is depicted in full majesty of might, just risen beneath the boat from the profundities of the ocean, and bearing high in the air upon his back the terrific wreck of the stoven planks.
An aquatint based on the first painting is reproduced on the cover of the 1992 Penguin Classics edition: you can see a small picture of it in the link below.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780140390841

The French are the lads for painting action. Go and gaze upon all the paintings of Europe, and where will you find such a gallery of living and breathing commotion on canvas, as in that triumphal hall at Versailles; where the beholder fights his way, pell-mell, through the consecutive great battles of France; where every sword seems a flash of the Northern Lights, and the successive armed kings and Emperors dash by, like a charge of crowned centaurs? Not wholly unworthy of a place in that gallery, are these sea battle-pieces of Garnery.

The natural aptitude of the French for seizing the picturesqueness of things seems to be peculiarly evinced in what paintings and engravings they have of their whaling scenes. With not one tenth of England's experience in the fishery, and not the thousandth part of that of the Americans, they have nevertheless furnished both nations with the only finished sketches at all capable of conveying the real spirit of the whale hunt.
Why do you think this is the case?

Message Edited by pmath on 01-13-200708:37 PM

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Chapter 58: "Noah's flood is not yet subsided"

I love some of the descriptions in this chapter, like this one:

Steering north-eastward from the Crozetts, we fell in with vast meadows of brit ... . For leagues and leagues it undulated round us, so that we seemed to be sailing through boundless fields of ripe and golden wheat.
and this one:

Yea, foolish mortals, Noah's flood is not yet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers.
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Chapter 60: "enveloped in whale-lines"

This is an interesting passage:

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 60: "enveloped in whale-lines"

I see that whale lines are the ties of mortality that become tormenting in our last hours. But does the philosopher sitting by the fire feel their pull or is he the one manning the poker/harpoon?
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Re: Chapter 60: "enveloped in whale-lines"

Both!


fanuzzir wrote:
I see that whale lines are the ties of mortality that become tormenting in our last hours. But does the philosopher sitting by the fire feel their pull or is he the one manning the poker/harpoon?

pmath wrote:
This is an interesting passage:

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.


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Re: Chapter 60: "enveloped in whale-lines"

I was thinking about this quote this weekend. We may not be sitting in whale boats with harpoons any more but I've been driving in snow storms on interstate highways in Colorado a lot lately. The ties of our immortality are just different in differnt times and places.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
I see that whale lines are the ties of mortality that become tormenting in our last hours. But does the philosopher sitting by the fire feel their pull or is he the one manning the poker/harpoon?


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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 60: "enveloped in whale-lines"

I'm glad that Melville is making sense of daily life for you. I know of no book that captures both the grandiosity of people's life missions and the significance of the everyday. . .
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"enveloped in whale-lines"-indeed



fanuzzir wrote:
I see that whale lines are the ties of mortality that become tormenting in our last hours. But does the philosopher sitting by the fire feel their pull or is he the one manning the poker/harpoon?



----------

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.


---------
OK, some ziki-non-poetical-analyzing-spark notes- unsofisticated action on this , please: I do not get it.....

I can be a philosopher poking in my fire and that is the same as sitting with a harpoon on a boat...IF death finds me? Otherwise not.

What is the halter around my neck you mean? Tasks of survival? Does a whale have any halter around neck? No.

And the lines...how can mortality torment me in my last hour? Why would I remember all the perils of life first then? Those I am forced to remember each day, want it or not...

So if truck hits me I realize a peril of life? And if I am down with terminal cancer I don't?

enlighten me, please.

ziki
cross eyed
down to the grits
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chad
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whale lines

Whale lines could be the actual words, forming philosophies which can, in this case, tie men to a whale, of all things.

Can we get some big plastic rakes and scratch their backs?- This might be a good idea, I don't know if it would cause damage to their skin...


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Re: whale lines

A whale line in a boat was a dangerous thing. He means we all have such dangerous things around us in normal life plus halters around our necks; so far so good. But I can't agree that first in the moment of death one would become aware of the danger.

Another thought: A harpoon is an action and the line a consequence.

ziki
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Re: whale lines

I think epiphanic moments often come in the face of death or in the face a whale.

Another thought: A harpoon is an action and the line a consequence. - well, ok.

Philosophers will take stabs to rope in their own whale or piece thereof, stoking the fire, if you will.

Chad
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backtrack to connections maybe?

[ Edited ]
Moby is about the connections we make with each other- sometimes they are subtle connections that we are unaware of and sometimes the connection may be unbreakable; we are unable to cut free; the connection or the rope will take us to our doom.

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 02-19-200710:05 PM

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fanuzzir
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Re: whale lines

----------

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.


---------

This is strange because at first the peril seems outwardly directed toward the whale, enveloped by whale lines, but then the person facing the mortal terror is in fact the person throwing the line, the harpooner. That of course is exactly the inverted plot of the novel, so it's an image that as huge implications. I'm still trying to work out the comparison between philosopher and harpooner. Any takers?
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Philosophy

[ Edited ]
A philosopher hopes to build a following of some kind, I think. So, he literally harpoons people and ropes'em into his philosophy, but, gradually, the "roped-in" masses become a new whale, waiting for one more harpooner/philosopher....

Chad

PS- I also think Mary Shelley has an interesting "Who was your mommy?" approach to philosophy-- I've been making comments on the Frankenstein board as well.

Message Edited by chad on 02-20-200710:52 AM

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Re: whale lines

[ Edited ]
quot.
"All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life."

Maybe if he means that death brings peace (or a total release) all appearances and obligations loose importance....then we see how much we were caught in whale-lines, how much we allowed ourselves to be limited. Or he refers indirectly to the soul.



"And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side."

If he by philosopher means someone who can see the bigger picture, who understands the conditions of life then he couldn't be afraid in the face of death.



fanuzzir:
"This is strange because at first the peril seems outwardly directed toward the whale, enveloped by whale lines, but then the person facing the mortal terror is in fact the person throwing the line, the harpooner. That of course is exactly the inverted plot of the novel, so it's an image that as huge implications. I'm still trying to work out the comparison between philosopher and harpooner. Any takers?"

You are throwing harpoons not even knowing whom you hurt. The lines go with it. You imprison others by imposing limits on limitless beings thinking you do it for a good cause. You destroy under the flying flag of illusion of doing something worthwhile! Whalers did that. The harpooner has its good tenable reasons. Those are always personal. The philosopher sees beyond appearances.

The line in the boat is set in motion by the harpooner (I am starting to understand why Melville assigned a whole chapter to the line) and it threatens even others who are in the same boat. The philosopher knows there are no limits, the harpooner is lost to his own sight. We all do that to ourselves and others. The death frees us, perhaps that is what Melville meant.

My take anyhow, for what it is worth.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-21-200707:44 PM

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fanuzzir
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Ishmael as philosopher

I also think that he's saying that philosophers really are fatalistic people, they know that they're either entangled in lines or that life is going to turn around and come get them some day. Much like Ishmael--he's the only one who doesn't seem to take an interest or role in decising whether the Pequod lives or dies.
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Re: Ishmael as philosopher

He doesn't seem to be "tied" to philosophy and the choice to embark upon the Peqoud is his own- Queequeg makes sure his fate rests in his own hands.

Chad
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philosopher

For me a philosopher is someone who tries to explain life. That is impossible....so the thoughts form lines....enmesh. However, I am not sure what Melville means by a philosopher.

ziki
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Re: philosopher

I'm thinking a philosopher is someone who finds meaning, ensnaring other who wish to do the same... according to Melville. Society or maybe businesses also need the individual to survive, the best example might be Queequeg. The individual and the masses are in constant tension, but seem to produce each other... a little complicated I guess...

Chad
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