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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism

[ Edited ]
Yes Fedallah and his compatriots are 'other', like Queequeg. But Queegueg (an Antipodean) is presented as a good guy and Ishmael's friend. Fedallah & Co are Oriental pagans who are allied with Ahab and he chooses their blood to 'anoint' his harpoon. The former pagan rite with the crew (drinking from their harpoon sockets etc) was mainly with Christians, this time Ahab has sunk to truly devilish behaviour which signifiies a diabolical end....

I found this very interesting reference to Muslim women and 19th Century Orientalism:-

http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/arthistory/ah369/westernrepresent.htm

Fanuzzir: I have found references to the 19th Century fascination with the Orient and on the now controversial book Orientalism by Edward Said but I can't seem to pull it together in any meaningful way with regard to Melville. I also found references to Transcendentalism (and Thoreau!) but couldn't source that well either. I can't get to my local library easily so would be grateful if you could spell some of this out for us in relation to Melville and MD. Here is a piece on Transcendentalism, which refers also to Unitarianism, which I have brought up in the Gaskell's discussions (the Gaskells were Unitarians).

http://thoreau.eserver.org/amertran.html

Laurel may be able to tell us more about this aspect of American religious history.






ziki wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?

Can anyone help us with Choisya's excellent question? It would seem Ahab has a brought aboard a secret, personal crew of Asian whalehunters. It's an scenario full of symbolism, historical significance, and dramatic import.




OK, I take a stab at it---I think if it was a Johnny Dope and Perry Scope from Philly it wouldn't have the same dramatic effect.These are yellow savages and one with turban that competes whith full moon! I definitely associate to pirates.Nobody in that crew invites others too close....even if they quickly melted into the crowd after the first chase.

Being visually different race from others they are more likely to be suspect and their characters will gel more easily with Ahab's. Not sure about the last part because the shipcrew as presented during the shakespearian nigth was pretty internationaland I am not sure the seamen were so small-minded.

ziki

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-08-200711:54 PM

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fanuzzir
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism



Choisya wrote:
Yes Fedallah and his compatriots are 'other', like Queequeg. But Queegueg (an Antipodean) is presented as a good guy and Ishmael's friend. Fedallah & Co are Oriental pagans who are allied with Ahab and he chooses their blood to 'anoint' his harpoon. The former pagan rite with the crew (drinking from their harpoon sockets etc) was mainly with Christians, this time Ahab has sunk to truly devilish behaviour which signifiies a diabolical end....

I found this very interesting reference to Muslim women and 19th Century Orientalism:-

http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/arthistory/ah369/westernrepresent.htm

Fanuzzir: I have found references to the 19th Century fascination with the Orient and on the now controversial book Orientalism by Edward Said but I can't seem to pull it together in any meaningful way with regard to Melville. I also found references to Transcendentalism (and Thoreau!) but couldn't source that well either. I can't get to my local library easily so would be grateful if you could spell some of this out for us in relation to Melville and MD. Here is a piece on Transcendentalism, which refers also to Unitarianism, which I have brought up in the Gaskell's discussions (the Gaskells were Unitarians).

http://thoreau.eserver.org/amertran.html

Laurel may be able to tell us more about this aspect of American religious history.






ziki wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?

Can anyone help us with Choisya's excellent question? It would seem Ahab has a brought aboard a secret, personal crew of Asian whalehunters. It's an scenario full of symbolism, historical significance, and dramatic import.




OK, I take a stab at it---I think if it was a Johnny Dope and Perry Scope from Philly it wouldn't have the same dramatic effect.These are yellow savages and one with turban that competes whith full moon! I definitely associate to pirates.Nobody in that crew invites others too close....even if they quickly melted into the crowd after the first chase.

Being visually different race from others they are more likely to be suspect and their characters will gel more easily with Ahab's. Not sure about the last part because the shipcrew as presented during the shakespearian nigth was pretty internationaland I am not sure the seamen were so small-minded.

ziki

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-08-200711:54 PM




Choisya, as to your first point, I would say that you help clarify the issue by reminding us that the "Oriental" crew baptizes the harpoon in a perverse, unholy ritual. As to your second point on Said's Orientalism: one of the more fascinating points the book makes is that Western knowledge, considered as a universal archive of thought, is actually founded upon a secret renunciation and false representation of Eastern thought, and that contains not so surreptious arguments about the superiority of West to East.
That being said, Melville does seem fascinated by the polarity of world views, and brings out so much of the exotic in Queeqeg in a way that makes him more appealing (but not necessarily more familiar). However, the end of chapter 50, on Fedallah, is a doozy, making " muffled mystery" of a person into a symbol for the eternal mysteries of the East. (There you have it: West equals rational, transparent knowlege and motives; East is subterfuge, mystery, obtuse motivations). But wait! Melville makes sly move by placing this mystery in Ahab's hands, and making the whole thing a mystery about Ahab's own motives in outfitting the ship. Ahab, the fatalist, the Calvinist, the man of predetermined fate, is in league with the Oriental. That's also the answer to your question; Calvinism, not Transcendentalism, seems the spiritual reference in the book, though Melville would like to believe in Plato, I think.
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Choisya
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism

Thanks fanuzzir, I get all that but what does 'doozy' mean?:smileyhappy: I found a reference to Melville's anti-Trancendentalism in a couple of essays online - what do you think:-

'Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, attacks the views of the Transcendentalists by portraying Moby Dick, the white whale, as the personification of evil. This completely opposes the Transcendentalist idea that there is only good in the world. Throughout the story, Melville also incorporates the Anti-Transcendental principles that the truths of existence are illusive and that nature is indifferent, unforgiving, and often unexplainable.

Moby Dick and Captain Ahab both refute the Transcendentalist principle that there is no evil, there is only love. The Transcendentalists feel that the world is filled with goodness, however, the Anti-Transcendentalists believe in the more reasonable idea that man has the potential to be either good or bad.'

and

'Transcendentalism is the term linked to the Emersonian-Thoreauvian set of beliefs which incorporated the existence of an Oversoul and the benevolent disposition of man as the default one. Such writers as Melville of this time period were opposed to the Transcendental views. The natural opposition to a theory of man’s general benevolence is one of his malevolence toward everything around him; the primary idea behind anti-Transcendentalism was that all human people have a capacity for evil and that, given the proper circumstances, the evil in anyone would come forth in their actions.'





fanuzzir wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Yes Fedallah and his compatriots are 'other', like Queequeg. But Queegueg (an Antipodean) is presented as a good guy and Ishmael's friend. Fedallah & Co are Oriental pagans who are allied with Ahab and he chooses their blood to 'anoint' his harpoon. The former pagan rite with the crew (drinking from their harpoon sockets etc) was mainly with Christians, this time Ahab has sunk to truly devilish behaviour which signifiies a diabolical end....

I found this very interesting reference to Muslim women and 19th Century Orientalism:-

http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/arthistory/ah369/westernrepresent.htm

Fanuzzir: I have found references to the 19th Century fascination with the Orient and on the now controversial book Orientalism by Edward Said but I can't seem to pull it together in any meaningful way with regard to Melville. I also found references to Transcendentalism (and Thoreau!) but couldn't source that well either. I can't get to my local library easily so would be grateful if you could spell some of this out for us in relation to Melville and MD. Here is a piece on Transcendentalism, which refers also to Unitarianism, which I have brought up in the Gaskell's discussions (the Gaskells were Unitarians).

http://thoreau.eserver.org/amertran.html

Laurel may be able to tell us more about this aspect of American religious history.






ziki wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?

Can anyone help us with Choisya's excellent question? It would seem Ahab has a brought aboard a secret, personal crew of Asian whalehunters. It's an scenario full of symbolism, historical significance, and dramatic import.




OK, I take a stab at it---I think if it was a Johnny Dope and Perry Scope from Philly it wouldn't have the same dramatic effect.These are yellow savages and one with turban that competes whith full moon! I definitely associate to pirates.Nobody in that crew invites others too close....even if they quickly melted into the crowd after the first chase.

Being visually different race from others they are more likely to be suspect and their characters will gel more easily with Ahab's. Not sure about the last part because the shipcrew as presented during the shakespearian nigth was pretty internationaland I am not sure the seamen were so small-minded.

ziki

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-08-200711:54 PM




Choisya, as to your first point, I would say that you help clarify the issue by reminding us that the "Oriental" crew baptizes the harpoon in a perverse, unholy ritual. As to your second point on Said's Orientalism: one of the more fascinating points the book makes is that Western knowledge, considered as a universal archive of thought, is actually founded upon a secret renunciation and false representation of Eastern thought, and that contains not so surreptious arguments about the superiority of West to East.
That being said, Melville does seem fascinated by the polarity of world views, and brings out so much of the exotic in Queeqeg in a way that makes him more appealing (but not necessarily more familiar). However, the end of chapter 50, on Fedallah, is a doozy, making " muffled mystery" of a person into a symbol for the eternal mysteries of the East. (There you have it: West equals rational, transparent knowlege and motives; East is subterfuge, mystery, obtuse motivations). But wait! Melville makes sly move by placing this mystery in Ahab's hands, and making the whole thing a mystery about Ahab's own motives in outfitting the ship. Ahab, the fatalist, the Calvinist, the man of predetermined fate, is in league with the Oriental. That's also the answer to your question; Calvinism, not Transcendentalism, seems the spiritual reference in the book, though Melville would like to believe in Plato, I think.


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Laurel
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism

I'm sorry that I don't have time right now to get back into a study of Transcendentalism. It seems to me that a number of authors of Melville's day got into it, saw its limitations, and got out. Hawthorne was one, I know, and I think that is what is allegorical "The Celestial Railroad" is about.

http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/127/
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Blame the English!

Anti-Transcendentalism here is just another name for Calvinism, the fatalist doctrine of sin and salvation that a reviled sect of English Puritans took with them from the mother country and brought to the New England colonies. This is significant as an intellectual stand on Melville's part, but it is even more significant as a dramatization of American history, for Calvinism and the need to see potential evil in every heretical or foreign aspect of their lives (see their treatment of "witches," Native Americans, Quakers, Baptists, religious dissenters) was central to the "mission" that Puritans imposed on their colony. This is the same mission, Melville is arguing, that America is still on, and that Ahab is renewing with his chase of the ultimate evil, Moby Dick (the joke being on him, as Moby Dick is a cipher for his own twisted motivations); the fact that the successor to Calvinist Puritan founders of this mission is employing scary pagan harpooners should tell you how twisted Melville thinks that mission really is. (Then there's the obvious question: are we still on it?)
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fanuzzir
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism

what does 'doozy' mean?

Doozy, as in "That's a doozy of a novel"--an extreme, almost comically exaggerated example of something.
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Choisya
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Re: Blame the English!

LOL. Blame the English yes, but at least we have moved much further away from that Puritanism than has America when it comes to religious beliefs, given the strong streak of Calvinist fundamentalism which still runs through American Christianity. I think perhaps that Melville would say that you are still on that mission, particularly in the Middle East and at Guantanamo Bay:smileysad:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6252305.stm





fanuzzir wrote:
Anti-Transcendentalism here is just another name for Calvinism, the fatalist doctrine of sin and salvation that a reviled sect of English Puritans took with them from the mother country and brought to the New England colonies. This is significant as an intellectual stand on Melville's part, but it is even more significant as a dramatization of American history, for Calvinism and the need to see potential evil in every heretical or foreign aspect of their lives (see their treatment of "witches," Native Americans, Quakers, Baptists, religious dissenters) was central to the "mission" that Puritans imposed on their colony. This is the same mission, Melville is arguing, that America is still on, and that Ahab is renewing with his chase of the ultimate evil, Moby Dick (the joke being on him, as Moby Dick is a cipher for his own twisted motivations); the fact that the successor to Calvinist Puritan founders of this mission is employing scary pagan harpooners should tell you how twisted Melville thinks that mission really is. (Then there's the obvious question: are we still on it?)


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friery
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism


fanuzzir wrote:
what does 'doozy' mean?

Doozy, as in "That's a doozy of a novel"--an extreme, almost comically exaggerated example of something.




A quick trip to the Web produced this comment on the word "doozy":

Etymology: perhaps alteration of daisy, and Duesenberg, a luxury car of the late 1920s and 1930s.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Fedallah & Co, Orientalism & Transcendentalism

Thanks!
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donyskiw
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Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

I think he needed a group that were mysterious, other. At that time, an Oriental crew did the trick. At this time-period, they would have to be a crew actually actively practicing some bizarre type of magic or something or maybe some group with a type of super-advanced technology.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?

Can anyone help us with Choisya's excellent question? It would seem Ahab has a brought aboard a secret, personal crew of Asian whalehunters. It's an scenario full of symbolism, historical significance, and dramatic import.


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donyskiw
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Re: Blame the English!

Is this a rhetorical question?

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
Anti-Transcendentalism here is just another name for Calvinism, the fatalist doctrine of sin and salvation that a reviled sect of English Puritans took with them from the mother country and brought to the New England colonies. This is significant as an intellectual stand on Melville's part, but it is even more significant as a dramatization of American history, for Calvinism and the need to see potential evil in every heretical or foreign aspect of their lives (see their treatment of "witches," Native Americans, Quakers, Baptists, religious dissenters) was central to the "mission" that Puritans imposed on their colony. This is the same mission, Melville is arguing, that America is still on, and that Ahab is renewing with his chase of the ultimate evil, Moby Dick (the joke being on him, as Moby Dick is a cipher for his own twisted motivations); the fact that the successor to Calvinist Puritan founders of this mission is employing scary pagan harpooners should tell you how twisted Melville thinks that mission really is. (Then there's the obvious question: are we still on it?)


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fanuzzir
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Re: Blame the English!

Not at all. I recently viewed Bowling for Columbine again and was reminded how much of American history is fearing, and going after the enemy.
ALK
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ALK
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Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae

fanuzzir--I do not know enough about bulletin boards to know if you still follow this one now that you are on Hemingway--Anyway--

I was industriously reading all the back posts so that I could contribute something meaningful to the discussion of MD when I came across your thread, "Dramatic Personae." Intrigued, I read your first post where you talked about Melville's colorful, strong characters, like Shakespeare's. Wow, I thought, what a great pun--"dramatic" reflecting the characters and personae alluding to a play, as in Shakespeare and the various aspects of MD being a play.

I thought this pun would be discussed, so I read on to enjoy the discussion. Nothing, until I got to reply 22, where you refer to "dramatis persona." Oh no, I thought, is that great pun just the result of a typo?

Anyway, I enjoyed it, and it got me thinking more about the "dramatic characters" acting in this play.
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Dramatic Personae



ALK wrote:I was industriously reading all the back posts so that I could contribute something meaningful to the discussion of MD....




Wow....but the way this discussion is going that task of contributing something meaningful can't be that difficult...or?

Just kidding :-P Ishmael: I try all things, I achieve what I can.

Anyhow, could you please tell us more about how that s/c thingy set off your own train of thoughts?

ziki
wanting to hear more
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae

Yes, I forgot to use latin, which would have been customary in Shakespeare's time, so I went between dramatis and dramatic. Nevertheless, you are right to see the dramatic nature of Melville's characterization. We actually did have a great conversation about his attempt to channel Shakespeare, the most popular audience for Americans, and how Ahab represents his version of the tragic hero. Particularly when he knows that he's going down for no good reason.
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Choisya
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Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae

I find the easiest way to keep track of what folks are posting is to 'subscribe' to the Email facility, either on the thread itself or in your Profile. This way an email is sent to your computer Inbox each time someone posts something on that thread and you can choose to answer it or not. Folks will also be doing the same when you post. Hope this helps:smileyhappy:




ALK wrote:
fanuzzir--I do not know enough about bulletin boards to know if you still follow this one now that you are on Hemingway--Anyway--

I was industriously reading all the back posts so that I could contribute something meaningful to the discussion of MD when I came across your thread, "Dramatic Personae." Intrigued, I read your first post where you talked about Melville's colorful, strong characters, like Shakespeare's. Wow, I thought, what a great pun--"dramatic" reflecting the characters and personae alluding to a play, as in Shakespeare and the various aspects of MD being a play.

I thought this pun would be discussed, so I read on to enjoy the discussion. Nothing, until I got to reply 22, where you refer to "dramatis persona." Oh no, I thought, is that great pun just the result of a typo?

Anyway, I enjoyed it, and it got me thinking more about the "dramatic characters" acting in this play.


ALK
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ALK
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Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae

[ Edited ]
Thanks for the suggestion on the e-mail. I have just figured that out and it is, of course, much easier to track new posts. But I am reading the old posts too and have reached, according to my dashboard, the astounding number of 1300+. I have to read those in order, first to last, to appreciate the previous insights.

Please don't stop giving me help, I badly need it and appreciate.

And to squeeze in a reply to Ziki--No, it is not that difficult to participate but I hate hate hate it when someone comes in late to a conversation and demands that the whole thing be repeated or, almost worse, makes the same points that I had made, much more wittily, earlier. Do unto others.

I just got my reply back stating that I had used a "malformed" HTML tag or attribute. Heavens! I knew you guys were formatting in a way I could not, so I tried leaving some of the extra material in your reply. I had no idea I was coding in HTML.

I never know whether that hoary old saying should be "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" or "Nothing ventured, nothing lost."

Choisya wrote:
I find the easiest way to keep track of what folks are posting ...

ALK

Message Edited by ALK on 02-06-200701:32 PM

ALK
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ALK
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Re: Dramatic Personae

Happy to comply, but what is an "s/c thingy?"

ziki wrote:

Anyhow, could you please tell us more about how that s/c thingy set off your own train of thoughts?

ALK
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to ALK-html

When you try to adjust the quoted message you sometimes cut out tags that should stay...just leave that red text screaming at you and push submit post, it takes care of itself...or as always you can just cut in the quote and don't bother about html at all....
ziki
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Re: Dramatic Personae/ALK



ALK wrote:
Happy to comply, but what is an "s/c thingy?"

ziki wrote:

Anyhow, could you please tell us more about how that s/c thingy set off your own train of thoughts?

ALK




dramatis vs. dramatic.
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