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fanuzzir
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Re: MOBY-DICK, OR, THE WHALE: The Greatest American Novel

Pmath, what a conversion. Like everyone else, you learned that you do not have to like a book to love it.
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Choisya
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Re: Moby Dick: Final confrontation

I don't see it as an atheistic book Bob just because there is a 'faith and conviction in higher purposes'. Pantheism suits it better I feel:-

http://www.pantheist.net/




fanuzzir wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Ziki wrote:
All that is not serving God will be destroyed.'Twill eventually go down no matter how mant flags you nail to masts. The victory will never be yours if you don't submit, the great paradox.


Do you think that Melville, who lost his Calvinist faith, was meaning to say this? I feel the book is saying that 'all who do not acknowledge the power of Nature and humanity will be destroyed' because there were many 'gods' in this book - Queequeg's and Tashtego's too. There is more pantheism here than monotheism, methinks.







There certainly is a multiple set of belief systems here, Melville's whale mythology included. That faith and conviction in higher purposes seems to be the common burden of everyone on board, and their shared mistake. So maybe it is an atheistic book.
Bob



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Chapter 42: "a dumb blankness, full of meaning"

This takes us back to our earlier discussion:


pmath wrote (here):
Isn't HM saying it doesn't distinguish, but encompasses everything? (Why would this be frightening?)


Choisya wrote:
Mmmmm....does this mean that atheism is colourless because it signifies nothingness whereas belief signifies colour? I will have to ponder that:smileyhappy:

pmath wrote:
This is very interesting:

...is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour; and at the same time the concrete of all colours; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows--a colourless, all-colour of atheism from which we shrink? [Chapter 42]

Choisya wrote:
Pantheism suits it better I feel...

fanuzzir wrote:
...maybe it is an atheistic book.

Choisya wrote:
There is more pantheism here than monotheism, methinks.
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Re: Moby Dick: Final confrontation

Choisya, this thought occupies me today. I kind of cooked a quick answer to you yesterday but I am far from clear about it....

God for me equals the "I know that I don't know" of Socrates. As Peck said scientists believe too, question is into what? Both religion and science tries to come up with explanations, it is the nature of the mind and as the talk with chad went here: there's is no meaning unless we supply it somehow.
And I wonder if atheism is possible. In that case one believes in Nature? If one would believe in nothing does that turn you into a nihilist?

Was Queequeg a Yojo monotheist? I try to get beyond lables but how do you see Melville's position in this context?

ziki
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reaction

The person in that pantheist link says there: "Whenever I read such statements, I instantly react against them, usually because of their ridiculous assertions...."

hmmm...and there crashes his whole nice contruction with a big bang because he falls back on his judgemental mind again...

Reaction is different from action.
Ahab was also reacting, not acting and that is why the expedition went awry.

I agree we need to know our beliefs and if possible try to predict their consequences. Ahab didn't try to predict anything because he had his conviction and he was not prepared to question that (i.e.episod with Rachel)...and that usually brings about the final fall, as for Sadam of Irak.

At the same time a leader can't please all at all times.What makes the difference? The motive as such decides the outcome. Ahab's motive was not exactly noble, Gandhi succeeded better. But there is an almost magnetic power connected to that drive, the determination. Not unlike a true conviction that creates focus. It is that focus that is so mesmerizing for others.

But again if the motive behind is not impersonal it leads into desctruction because it is not true action, it is a reaction. An action has a pure origin, a rection is just fear.

When there is a lack of competent leaders a country is in danger. Were Bush a bit more enigmatic and Ahablike we would see not so nice things. Now perhaps we just about survive him because he doesn't manage to repair the compass.

ziki
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Choisya
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Re: Moby Dick: Final confrontation

[ Edited ]
If theism is possible then a-theism is. Theism is a belief in god(s), atheism is lack of belief in god(s). I don't really 'believe' in anything, I am just more attuned to nature and rational, scientific things. Nihilism is different to atheism, and is an extreme form of scepticism which can deny existence itself. Some nihilists believe that all political and social institutions (like churches) have to be destroyed if the world is to improve. I do not take either of those positions. Some scientists believe in god(s), some are agnostic, others do not believe in god(s). I can't tell from the book whether Queequeg or Yojo were monotheists but their cultures were panthiest in that they believe in more than one god. In Greek pan = all, theos = god. Some Pantheists identify god(s) with nature or the 'cosmos' - an orderly and harmonious universe, others just have a variety of gods which represent various aspects of nature. Melville just seems to me more pantheist than monotheist. My position on most of these philosophical questions is that I don't really care. I am a pragmatist and don't look for abstract meanings in this way. I enjoy reading discussions such as those you and chad have had but cannot 'take them on board'. I am quite content in my non-belief and also quite content to believe what scientists tell me, in the main. It is like the old belief in 'bumps' which we have discussed. This was once treated as fact and millions believed it. Then it fell out of favour and became disbelieved. I was born at a time of disbelief in this particular theory so I went along with that. I don't think I have an enquiring mind and I am very unscientific. Girls didn't do science when I was at school! :smileyvery-happy:




ziki wrote:
Choisya, this thought occupies me today. I kind of cooked a quick answer to you yesterday but I am far from clear about it....

God for me equals the "I know that I don't know" of Socrates. As Peck said scientists believe too, question is into what? Both religion and science tries to come up with explanations, it is the nature of the mind and as the talk with chad went here: there's is no meaning unless we supply it somehow.
And I wonder if atheism is possible. In that case one believes in Nature? If one would believe in nothing does that turn you into a nihilist?

Was Queequeg a Yojo monotheist? I try to get beyond lables but how do you see Melville's position in this context?

ziki

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-30-200703:01 PM

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fanuzzir
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Re: The End



donyskiw wrote:
Did you finish it Bob? I finished it this weekend. It was quite emotional for me.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
I'm not there yet, but circle back and keep prodding and tempting us with the great resolution. I'm envious.

Bob







Denise and all, I finally did finish it, and I came away shaken, as I'm sure you all did. That Ahab knew he should turn back; that Starbuck clasped hands of brotherhood with him; that the whale would be so violent, and the action so gripping is not what I expected at all. It really was like Shakespeare, which someone said in another thread, reinvented for America, particularly because Ahab had that tragic awareness of the futility of this struggle.

There was also a human heart of a father at the end, with the captain of the Rachel, Starbuck, and even Ahab (for a split second) letting the bonds of family lead them on. I was so impressed at how Melville turned the meeting with the Rachel into a plot point for Ahab, a beautiful theme of lost children, and finally, the wind-up to the plot.

You can't have more a elegant, moving, and action-packed finale than this.
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Re: The End



fanuzzir wrote:smileyvery-happy:enise and all, I finally did finish it, and I came away shaken, as I'm sure you all did.




yes, well, I did. And the feeling is lingering.
ziki
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Choisya
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Re: The End

Although I knew that Ahab's end was inevitable I came away profoundly sad that he did not heed the many omens he had nor listen to the pleas of Pip or Starbuck. He was quite deranged and for that I pitied him. I also felt that Starbuck should have been the one to survive because Ishmael had done so little to change the course of events.




ziki wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:smileyvery-happy:enise and all, I finally did finish it, and I came away shaken, as I'm sure you all did.




yes, well, I did. And the feeling is lingering.
ziki


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Epilogue: "a soft and dirgelike main"

[ Edited ]
Bob, had you forgotten the details, or was this the first time you finished it? I thought this gave the reader a chance to mourn along with Ishmael:

...liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks.

fanuzzir wrote:
... I finally did finish it, and I came away shaken, as I'm sure you all did.

Message Edited by pmath on 01-31-200707:15 AM

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Choisya
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Re: Epilogue: "a soft and dirgelike main"

The Epilogue was a calm after the storm, with beautiful alliteration and flow of language.




pmath wrote:
Bob, had you forgotten the details, or was this the first time you finished it? I thought this gave the reader a chance to mourn along with Ishmael:

...liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks.

fanuzzir wrote:
... I finally did finish it, and I came away shaken, as I'm sure you all did.

Message Edited by pmath on 01-31-200707:15 AM




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Re: The End

Shaken is a good word to describe how I felt, also. It was a beautifully written novel. I think even all of the superfluous information in it served to fill out our knowledge of the backstory and slow down our consumption of it.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:


donyskiw wrote:
Did you finish it Bob? I finished it this weekend. It was quite emotional for me.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
I'm not there yet, but circle back and keep prodding and tempting us with the great resolution. I'm envious.

Bob







Denise and all, I finally did finish it, and I came away shaken, as I'm sure you all did. That Ahab knew he should turn back; that Starbuck clasped hands of brotherhood with him; that the whale would be so violent, and the action so gripping is not what I expected at all. It really was like Shakespeare, which someone said in another thread, reinvented for America, particularly because Ahab had that tragic awareness of the futility of this struggle.

There was also a human heart of a father at the end, with the captain of the Rachel, Starbuck, and even Ahab (for a split second) letting the bonds of family lead them on. I was so impressed at how Melville turned the meeting with the Rachel into a plot point for Ahab, a beautiful theme of lost children, and finally, the wind-up to the plot.

You can't have more a elegant, moving, and action-packed finale than this.


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For Bob: The Mysterious MD

Bob, why is it a conversion? I'd say instead that you don't have to fully understand something to love it!


fanuzzir wrote:
Pmath, what a conversion. Like everyone else, you learned that you do not have to like a book to love it.

pmath wrote:
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables used to be my favorite American novel, but now it shares the #1 spot on my list with MD.

Choisya wrote (here):
For my part I think Moby Dick has been the best book I have read with B&N and you folks, and with an excellent Moderator to boot. The standard of the analysis and comment has been so very high and so many insights have been gained that I feel I could stay on this voyage forever - with an occasional foray onto a South Sea island ...

pmath wrote (here):
As I told Bob earlier (here), I didn't understand most of what Ahab said! We're just going to have to read MD again, and again, and again,...
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Re: The End



donyskiw wrote:
Shaken is a good word to describe how I felt, also. It was a beautifully written novel. I think even all of the superfluous information in it served to fill out our knowledge of the backstory and slow down our consumption of it.

Denise





I agree. I also feel like I ate a whale that will take a long time to digest.

ziki
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fanuzzir
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Re: The End

[ Edited ]

Choisya wrote:
Although I knew that Ahab's end was inevitable I came away profoundly sad that he did not heed the many omens he had nor listen to the pleas of Pip or Starbuck. He was quite deranged and for that I pitied him. I also felt that Starbuck should have been the one to survive because Ishmael had done so little to change the course of events.





Yes, Choisya, I agree. The real loss is Starbuck. Ahab made his decision for himself, and unfortunately, for others. I have to admit I took a strange pleasure in the image of the captain in his whaling boat watching the Pequod splintered by that savage beast. (Politically incorrrect, I know, but MD was a brute in the end, I think)

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 01-31-200709:49 PM

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 01-31-200709:49 PM

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fanuzzir
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Re: Epilogue: "a soft and dirgelike main"

I remembered the epilogue, Pmath, and loved the image of the coffin. I did not think I would be so caught up in the chase and the dramatic decision making that goes on before that. Maybe I thought I was "above" all that when I was an undergraduate way back when.
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Choisya
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Re: The End : MD a 'dumb beast'

I don't agree that MD was a 'brute' Fanuzzir - I go along with Starbuck when he remonstrated with Ahab that MD was a 'dumb beast':-

'Vengeance on a dumb beast that simply smote thee from blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captian Ahab, seems blasphemous.'

I think that if we go along with Ahab about MD's 'brutishness' we are entering into his revengeful fantasy and committing our own form of blasphemy.




fanuzzir wrote:

Choisya wrote:
Although I knew that Ahab's end was inevitable I came away profoundly sad that he did not heed the many omens he had nor listen to the pleas of Pip or Starbuck. He was quite deranged and for that I pitied him. I also felt that Starbuck should have been the one to survive because Ishmael had done so little to change the course of events.





Yes, Choisya, I agree. The real loss is Starbuck. Ahab made his decision for himself, and unfortunately, for others. I have to admit I took a strange pleasure in the image of the captain in his whaling boat watching the Pequod splintered by that savage beast. (Politically incorrrect, I know, but MD was a brute in the end, I think)

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 01-31-200709:49 PM

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 01-31-200709:49 PM




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Laurel
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Taking a stab at the whale

Here's my take on the book, and a little of my thought process.

WHITE=absence of color, emptyness, lack, want.

WANT=need, desire, lust.

Ignoring all pleas of humanity, Ahab follows his lust for vengeance.

The whale is not evil; Ahab's lust is evil.

That's the point, according to me.
"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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friery
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Re: Taking a stab at the whale


Laurel wrote:
Here's my take on the book, and a little of my thought process.

WHITE=absence of color, emptyness, lack, want.

WANT=need, desire, lust.

Ignoring all pleas of humanity, Ahab follows his lust for vengeance.

The whale is not evil; Ahab's lust is evil.

That's the point, according to me.




Very cool.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Moby Dick is a god--that's said several times in the last three chapters. (Not God, as I've read at times. I have trouble with that.)

The book is about faith. And religion.

And fate.

Perhaps the final conflict is between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Ahab, the Old Testament prophet. Moby Dick, the New Testament. (Which, I suppose, could make the whale a Christ-figure. Ack, and apologies to Bob for using the C-word.)

And redemption. And resurrection. (Which, of course, might make Ishmael a Christ-figure. Ack again.)
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friery-language

friery,
The Christian terminogy is such a prison for the spirit... but in a way it is inescapable it's so much ingrained in the culture, burdened with all the misunderstandings and missinterpretations. One needs to see beyond the 'small reasons' in it. It's like learning latin.....just a language... I didn't get one iota of the religious nonsense during my upbringing but had to seek God with big G.....life wants you to, it is a private business on one level that doesn't have anything with the church to do. A lover tells you more about God than any priest! At BNU I atempted to read the Bible as a literature; no need to mention I didn't get far with that project.

ziki
never fear
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