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fanuzzir
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Moby Dick: How to Kill a Whale, Chapters 61-98

[ Edited ]
This strange section of the book, chapters 61-98, literally takes us inside a whale hunt and tells you more than you ever thought you would ever know about the inside of a whale's head. They are also some of the beautiful and strange of Melville's chapters, and show the full range of human strangeness that a pursuit on open sea will bring out.

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 12-10-200610:58 PM

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Choisya
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Re: Moby Dick: How to Kill a Whale



fanuzzir wrote:
This strange section of the book, chapters 61-98, literally takes us inside a whale hunt and tells you more than you ever thought you would ever know about the inside of a whale's head. They are also some of the beautiful and strange of Melville's chapters, and show the full range of human strangeness that a pursuit on open sea will bring out.





I think I will close my eyes all through this bit:smileysad::smileysad:
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How to Kill a Whale-should we?

Whale hunt nowadays is often debated and nothing that should be automatically sanctioned.
Should we disallow the hunting of endangered species? Who should be allowed to hunt whales? How far should we go to protect animals?
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leakybucket
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Re: How to Kill a Whale-should we?


ziki wrote:
Whale hunt nowadays is often debated and nothing that should be automatically sanctioned.
Should we disallow the hunting of endangered species? Who should be allowed to hunt whales? How far should we go to protect animals?




I am going to have a great deal of difficulty with that part of the book but I have decided to put it aside as a literary device. Whales are very high level mammals with an acute sense of awareness. They feel and understand pain as much as we do. It isn't so much the hunting that bothers me--it is the method and the consequences of the method if the whales survives with harpoons in its body.

I suspect we will learn a lot more about whale hunting as the book goes on. I believe there are whole chapters devoted to it. It was considered an economic necessity at the time--I don't know what importance it could have now. When I get to that section of the book and give it a fair reading, I will be in a better position to comment on the above. Maybe it served then and now some important medicinal purpose. I just don't know yet.

Bucky
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Choisya
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Re: How to Kill a Whale-should we?

It is strange to think that the oil from sperm whales once lighted a world without electricity. In economic terms it was the equivalent of oil/gas today and if the whaling fraternity had not been able to keep the lamps of America alight, the consequences would have been as grave as an oil crisis today.




leakybucket wrote:

ziki wrote:
Whale hunt nowadays is often debated and nothing that should be automatically sanctioned.
Should we disallow the hunting of endangered species? Who should be allowed to hunt whales? How far should we go to protect animals?




I am going to have a great deal of difficulty with that part of the book but I have decided to put it aside as a literary device. Whales are very high level mammals with an acute sense of awareness. They feel and understand pain as much as we do. It isn't so much the hunting that bothers me--it is the method and the consequences of the method if the whales survives with harpoons in its body.

I suspect we will learn a lot more about whale hunting as the book goes on. I believe there are whole chapters devoted to it. It was considered an economic necessity at the time--I don't know what importance it could have now. When I get to that section of the book and give it a fair reading, I will be in a better position to comment on the above. Maybe it served then and now some important medicinal purpose. I just don't know yet.

Bucky


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Re: How to Kill a Whale-should we?/future discussions

I think there will be many interesting angles to the whole subject. Times changed since the book was written and what applied then might not be the best solution today.

ziki
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Re: How to Kill a Whale-should we?/future discussions



ziki wrote:
I think there will be many interesting angles to the whole subject. Times changed since the book was written and what applied then might not be the best solution today.

ziki




You may be interested in this website:-

http://www.savethewhales.org/
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Re: How to Kill a Whale-should we?



ziki wrote:
Whale hunt nowadays is often debated and nothing that should be automatically sanctioned.
Should we disallow the hunting of endangered species? Who should be allowed to hunt whales? How far should we go to protect animals?




That is a huge issue out here in the Pacific Northwest, where Native American tribes which have hunted whales for subsistance for thouands of years, taking only a few whales each year and not hurting the populations at all, are, perhaps justifiably, very unhappy with more recent arrivals (meaning the last 300 years or so) who, having decimated the whale population for profit, now want to prevent the native populations from continuing their ritual and traditional hunts.
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Re: How to Kill a Whale-should we?

You give a wonderful perspective, particularly on the industrialization of the whale hunt that occured in European-American culture. While whaling was the energy production of its day, it is important to remember that Melville was in contact with many native traditions as well as a vast mythology of Western culture that made the whale a mystical creature. Let's see how his learning, and his experience with non-Western cultures impinge on his ability to do his job and extract the "energy" from its "source."
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Call me Cachalot

Since this is fairly short and the author has already given permission to recopy it, I thought I would just post it instead of giving a link:

------------------------------
What's In a Name? If you agree with this editorial, copy it, email it, print it, distribute it, with the understanding that by such small expressions of caring, we better protect the natural world for unborn generations.

Has there ever been an animal more wrongfully-named than the sperm whale? The name killer whale is just as bad. In that case, activists worked for twenty years to promote the name change to orca. Who can deny that having a different name makes human beings perceive the same animal in a far different light.

What's in a name? Maybe the best argument is offered by the Chinese proverb that tells us that naming is an art form that helps define the soul of the named. Surely, it is high time to refer to this magnificent species as something besides boiled blubber.

This great whale's brain is five times larger than the human brain. It is by far the largest brain of any creature that has ever inhabited the Earth and thus, the largest brain for which we have evidence anywhere in the universe. Intriguingly, studies of the dinosaur's bird-sized brain cavity suggests that big brains are not mandatory to control big bodies, because brain size correlates far more closely with intellect and sensory apparatus than motor control.

Today, the extent of the sperm whale's intellect remains unknown, and worthy of being understood as one of the great mysteries of our time. How do we even start to learn about this whale's intellect? The species rarely draws close to shore, and all we discern of its behavior is gleaned from behavior it shows us during the five percent of the time it surfaces to take a breath. We do know that the females with young and the larger breeding males only come together for mating. They spend the rest of the year separated by the distance of oceans.

The extent of our own ignorance is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that until very recently humans related to it only as a repository for oil. A unique oily/waxy substance found in the "case" located in the species forehead, was the finest grade of machine oil known to man. Known as spermaceti, "the seed of the cetacean", the fluid was erroneously purported to be the whale's own seminal fluid. Why the females also had ample quantities of this so-called spermaceti, was never explained. This so-called "seed of the cetacean" was actually the seed of the Industrial Revolution. Engineers employed it to lubricate the new powerful machines that defined that age. Today, we find a suitable replacement for spermaceti in a common desert plant known as jojoba.

So we arrive at the ignorant, harmful, disrespectful name our English-speaking forebearers invented to refer to this brainy creature: the sperm whale. The Germans have named it no less opportunistically. They call it pottval, essentially the whale to be boiled down in huge pots. The pot roast of whales.

The French, the Spanish, the Italians, have named it more accurately, more gently, more respectfully: cachalot, after the Basque word for tooth. The name distinguishes it from all the other great whales which have baleen instead of teeth. The cachalot is the largest species within the odontocete or toothed-whale family, so-called to distinguish cetaceans possessing teeth the dolphins, orcas, belugas from baleen whales.

I'll say it again. Names have power. The name we give to a thing not only reflects the thing itself, but are metaphors of our own state of consciousness and culture. In this instance, we either refer to this species by upholding our own obtuseness, or we can grant this potential wisdomkeeper an accurate, and more courteous name. Cachalot. Spread the word.

-----------------------------------------

More information on the intelligence of sperm whales:

http://www.interspecies.com/pages/sperm%;20whale.html
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Re: Moby Dick: How to Kill a Whale, Chapters 61-98



fanuzzir wrote:
This strange section of the book, chapters 61-98, literally takes us inside a whale hunt and tells you more than you ever thought you would ever know about the inside of a whale's head. They are also some of the beautiful and strange of Melville's chapters, and show the full range of human strangeness that a pursuit on open sea will bring out.

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 12-10-200610:58 PM




A lot has been said about the uses of whale's oil for energy so I won't touch on that. What I liked most is how the humor of the author is applicable even of today's life. On the chapter titled, "Fast Fish or Loose Fish", Melville's comparison of a sailor's ex-wife to a fast fish is funny and inciteful. You can't take her clothes, jewelries and house (most likely) just because the money used to buy them is from your sweat, blood, tears and years of hard labor at sea.

'Alive or dead a fish is technically fast, when it is connected with an occupied boat ship or boat, by any medium at all controlling occupant/s - a mast, an oar, a cable, a telegraph wire, or a strand of cobweb, all the same."

I felt bad for the sailors who accidentally beached a whale to an island and the duke of that territory claimed it, but it is technically his (or his king's).
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Re: Call me Cachalot : Ahab's name (Spoiler)

Very true bucky:smileysad: Does anyone refer to 'killer whales' nowadays? We seems to hear of them by their species - the sperm whale being the Orca for instance. Killer sharks are more in our news these days and I suspect they are equally maligned.

There is an exchange earlier in the book when Ishmael asks Captain Peleg 'The dogs did they not lick Ahab's blood when that wicked old [Biblical] king was slain?' and Peleg replies 'Twas a fooolish whim of his crazy, widowed mother - and yet the old squaw Tistig said that the name would somehow prove prophetic.' Another instance where a name was 'an art form that helps define the soul of the named'. I have just re-read the first three chapters and have come to the conclusion that everything which subsequently happens is foreshadowed at the very beginning of the novel.




leakybucket wrote:
Since this is fairly short and the author has already given permission to recopy it, I thought I would just post it instead of giving a link:

------------------------------
What's In a Name? If you agree with this editorial, copy it, email it, print it, distribute it, with the understanding that by such small expressions of caring, we better protect the natural world for unborn generations.

Has there ever been an animal more wrongfully-named than the sperm whale? The name killer whale is just as bad. In that case, activists worked for twenty years to promote the name change to orca. Who can deny that having a different name makes human beings perceive the same animal in a far different light.

What's in a name? Maybe the best argument is offered by the Chinese proverb that tells us that naming is an art form that helps define the soul of the named. Surely, it is high time to refer to this magnificent species as something besides boiled blubber.

This great whale's brain is five times larger than the human brain. It is by far the largest brain of any creature that has ever inhabited the Earth and thus, the largest brain for which we have evidence anywhere in the universe. Intriguingly, studies of the dinosaur's bird-sized brain cavity suggests that big brains are not mandatory to control big bodies, because brain size correlates far more closely with intellect and sensory apparatus than motor control.

Today, the extent of the sperm whale's intellect remains unknown, and worthy of being understood as one of the great mysteries of our time. How do we even start to learn about this whale's intellect? The species rarely draws close to shore, and all we discern of its behavior is gleaned from behavior it shows us during the five percent of the time it surfaces to take a breath. We do know that the females with young and the larger breeding males only come together for mating. They spend the rest of the year separated by the distance of oceans.

The extent of our own ignorance is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that until very recently humans related to it only as a repository for oil. A unique oily/waxy substance found in the "case" located in the species forehead, was the finest grade of machine oil known to man. Known as spermaceti, "the seed of the cetacean", the fluid was erroneously purported to be the whale's own seminal fluid. Why the females also had ample quantities of this so-called spermaceti, was never explained. This so-called "seed of the cetacean" was actually the seed of the Industrial Revolution. Engineers employed it to lubricate the new powerful machines that defined that age. Today, we find a suitable replacement for spermaceti in a common desert plant known as jojoba.

So we arrive at the ignorant, harmful, disrespectful name our English-speaking forebearers invented to refer to this brainy creature: the sperm whale. The Germans have named it no less opportunistically. They call it pottval, essentially the whale to be boiled down in huge pots. The pot roast of whales.

The French, the Spanish, the Italians, have named it more accurately, more gently, more respectfully: cachalot, after the Basque word for tooth. The name distinguishes it from all the other great whales which have baleen instead of teeth. The cachalot is the largest species within the odontocete or toothed-whale family, so-called to distinguish cetaceans possessing teeth the dolphins, orcas, belugas from baleen whales.

I'll say it again. Names have power. The name we give to a thing not only reflects the thing itself, but are metaphors of our own state of consciousness and culture. In this instance, we either refer to this species by upholding our own obtuseness, or we can grant this potential wisdomkeeper an accurate, and more courteous name. Cachalot. Spread the word.

-----------------------------------------

More information on the intelligence of sperm whales:

http://www.interspecies.com/pages/sperm%;20whale.html


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Re: Call me Cachalot

This is a wonderful source of information, and a reminder that we are not alone as sentient beings, not on our own planet. That is so unsettling to think that we are draining the brain of super-intelligent creatures for its fluid; imagine if the tables were turned.

I am also wondering whaat you think of those chapters when Melville's crew jumps literally into the spermaceti and gets buried in whale "sperm." Surely these are the most sensual chapters of the voyage, when the working men make contact with the most fleshy parts of the whale. But they're also evocations of the whale's great head, and possibly even it's mind; Melville saw something in that great forehead, he called it, that fascinated him as a great mind would.
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Re: Call me Cachalot

I have been unable to read most of these chapters Fanuzzir because I am too squeamish, so can't comment:smileysad:




fanuzzir wrote:
This is a wonderful source of information, and a reminder that we are not alone as sentient beings, not on our own planet. That is so unsettling to think that we are draining the brain of super-intelligent creatures for its fluid; imagine if the tables were turned.

I am also wondering whaat you think of those chapters when Melville's crew jumps literally into the spermaceti and gets buried in whale "sperm." Surely these are the most sensual chapters of the voyage, when the working men make contact with the most fleshy parts of the whale. But they're also evocations of the whale's great head, and possibly even it's mind; Melville saw something in that great forehead, he called it, that fascinated him as a great mind would.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Call me Cachalot

Yes, those chapters do not omit any gross detail. Moby Dick is like that--there is something for everyone--to skip over.
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Chapter 68: "the great dome of St. Peter's"

I love this passage:

...herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter's, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.

But how easy and how hopeless to teach these fine things! Of erections, how few are domed like St. Peter's! of creatures, how few vast as the whale!
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Re: Chapter 68: "the great dome of St. Peter's"

So beautiful and so true.




pmath wrote:
I love this passage:

...herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter's, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.

But how easy and how hopeless to teach these fine things! Of erections, how few are domed like St. Peter's! of creatures, how few vast as the whale!



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Chapter 68: Theme of MOBY DICK, OR, THE WHALE

Yes: also, when I first read it, I thought that perhaps this passage is the key to the novel. HM gives us The Whale as an alternative title for his novel: what message is he trying to send? Should we emulate the whale in every way? Is this why he gives us so much detail?


Choisya wrote:
So beautiful and so true.

pmath wrote:
I love this passage:

...herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter's, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.

But how easy and how hopeless to teach these fine things! Of erections, how few are domed like St. Peter's! of creatures, how few vast as the whale!


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Chapter 80: Vertebrae

This is fascinating: does anyone know more about this?

If you attentively regard almost any quadruped's spine, you will be struck with the resemblance of its vertebrae to a strung necklace of dwarfed skulls, all bearing rudimental resemblance to the skull proper. It is a German conceit, that the vertebrae are absolutely undeveloped skulls. ... Now, I consider that the phrenologists have omitted an important thing in not pushing their investigations from the cerebellum through the spinal canal. For I believe that much of a man's character will be found betokened in his backbone. I would rather feel your spine than your skull, whoever you are. A thin joist of a spine never yet upheld a full and noble soul. I rejoice in my spine, as in the firm audacious staff of that flag which I fling half out to the world.
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Re: Chapter 68: The Whale as Title and Subject

[ Edited ]

pmath wrote:
Yes: also, when I first read it, I thought that perhaps this passage is the key to the novel. HM gives us The Whale as an alternative title for his novel: what message is he trying to send? Should we emulate the whale in every way? Is this why he gives us so much detail?


Choisya wrote:
So beautiful and so true.

pmath wrote:
I love this passage:

...herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter's, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.

But how easy and how hopeless to teach these fine things! Of erections, how few are domed like St. Peter's! of creatures, how few vast as the whale!







That is certainly a provocative idea, PMath, given the importance of the title and importance of the whale as an analogy of the human mind. I think Melville feels that few people attain the whale's equanimity, so to speak (remaining around the equator), and that human beings are sadly susceptible to other people's temperatures, like Ahab's. There's goodness in that also, as it gives us entre to other people's souls, like Queequegs, but it also sends us round and round the earth until we return to the equator (I think there's a passage that sound something very much like that.) It's incredible to think that Melville is all along trying to sketch out a new human potentiality that only the whale can approximate . . .

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 01-14-200709:33 PM

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