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fanuzzir
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Re: ? bible background

Ziki, a decent edition would have some of the major biblical allusions footnoted. But it is a densely written book with a lifetime, a whole history of Bible literacy packed in. I would look at that thread with the references and contexts, where people have already gone into Ishmael's name. And then there will be the Ahab references; he's a major Biblical character. As is Moby Dick--Leviathan from the Book of Job.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land, Father Maple's Sermon

Frankly I did not know what to make of Father Marple's sermon.


Anyone care to take this subject on? The setting is New England, after all, and Melville is cognizant of a two century history of hellfire and brimstone sermons that have damned successive generations of Americans all the while exalting them as God's new chosen people. Father Maple's sermon is where Melville makes his mark on this history.
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Laurel
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land, Father Maple's Sermon

Just off the top of my head, I recall thinking that Father Mapple was putting himself in the same boat as all of mankind as a sinner in need of repentence and with hope of acceptance.



fanuzzir wrote:
Frankly I did not know what to make of Father Marple's sermon.


Anyone care to take this subject on? The setting is New England, after all, and Melville is cognizant of a two century history of hellfire and brimstone sermons that have damned successive generations of Americans all the while exalting them as God's new chosen people. Father Maple's sermon is where Melville makes his mark on this history.


"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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Laurel
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"like a snow hill in the air"

I love the last sentence of chapter 1:

"By reason of these things, then,
the whaling voyage was welcome;
the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open,
and in the wild conceits that swayed me to my purpose,
two and two there floated into my inmost soul,
endless processions of the whale,
and, mid most of them all,
one grand hooded phantom,
like a snow hill in the air."

You just can't read that in a hurry.
"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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Chapter 18: "Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of"

I found the following passage very moving: what was Bildad thinking of here?

"Hear him, hear him now," cried Peleg, marching across the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into his pockets,--"hear him, all of ye. Think of that! When every moment we thought the ship would sink! Death and the Judgment then? What? With all three masts making such an everlasting thundering against the side; and every sea breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of Death and the Judgment then? No! no time to think about Death then. Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of; and how to save all hands--how to rig jury-masts--how to get into the nearest port; that was what I was thinking of."

Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very quietly overlooking some sailmakers who were mending a top-sail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick up a patch, or save an end of tarred twine, which otherwise might have been wasted.
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mef6395
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land


matthieu_78741 wrote:
Alternative scenario #1: The inn keeper and Qeequeg are partners. The heads are from past travelers that fell asleep. Alternative scenario #2: Qeequeg is good at lulling sailors and taking their heads at sea.

Suspending judgment or discernment of all cultural norms, decisions, or behaviors, having unbridled tolerance and understanding just for the sake of it, could lead to a degradation of society, slavery, or possibly death.

Of course I'm not condoning cruelty or disrespect here, which intolerance connotes. I'm simply saying one has to be able to discern between right and wrong, safe relationships and potentially dangerous ones, and take precautions to ensure life.

I don't think Melville expects us to believe head selling, doll worshiping, or cannibalism are acceptable behaviors. It seems more like he's created an exaggerated cultural barrier to force the reader to reconcile it with Qeequeg's loyalty and compassion. He's saying there is a good man, a loyal friend, beyond what his culture has taught him - right or wrong as it might be.





As Ishmael says, You cannot hide the soul. I think he is a perceptive and sensitive kind of fellow, a good judge of character. Even if by superficial appearances it seems obvious to him that Queequeg is a savage, yet he is convinced that the man's countenance has something in it which is by no means disagreeable ... there are traces there of an honest heart, somebody courageous, independent, noble and proud (reminds him of George Washington, in fact!). and then perhaps Ishmael has had disappointments with trying to forge friendships with his own kind for he says, I'll try a pagan friend ... since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy.

But on the other hand, if Ishmael had seen that Queequeg was a savage through and through, tomahawk-happy and ready to fry any which person he meets then I think Ishmael would have avoided him like the plague.

Perhaps what Melville wanted to get across in this particular episode is that we should approach each person as an individual and appreciate him/her by his/her own merits; not judge him/her outright by his/her appartenance to a specific race, culture, tradition, religion or whatnot.
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mef6395
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land, Chapters 1-27


PaulK wrote:


Chapter 3 was quite a surprise for me. After reading the Etymology, Extracts, and first two chapters I thought this would be a very serious and dry book. It was a shock to meet Q and very funny. It reminded me of how both Dickens and Austen used very exaggerated and comic characters such as Mr. Collins and Mr. Macawber to make serious points as well as lightening up the story.
The funniest part for me was the final destination of the last embalmed head (ch. 13). I hope my head has a more dignified final resting place. Also Q's table manners left something to be desired. Using his harpoon to spear the meat was funny and reminded me of taking groups of boys to dinners. They could be as innovative in ways to serve themselves.
Frankly I did not know what to make of Father Marple's sermon.




I love the humour in Moby Dick, it reminds me of the kind that we find in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I appreciate Father Mapple, he's funny. He has passion; an ingenious, inventive, and exceptionally imaginative preacher who is not above embellishing Bible data in order to deliver an effective sermon and get his message across.
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Choisya
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

As the Narrator is telling the story and therefore lived, your alternative scenario does not equate:smileyhappy: Melville had sailed the seven seas and had spent time amongst cannibals. I suspect he was tolerant enough to realise that head selling, doll worshipping and cannibalism are accepted behaviours in certain circumstances and that there are all kinds of religions and customs in the world which deserve respect. And yes, good men and loyal friends can be from any culture - as Melville had learned in his travels before he wrote Moby Dick.




matthieu_78741 wrote:
Alternative scenario #1: The inn keeper and Qeequeg are partners. The heads are from past travelers that fell asleep. Alternative scenario #2: Qeequeg is good at lulling sailors and taking their heads at sea.

Suspending judgment or discernment of all cultural norms, decisions, or behaviors, having unbridled tolerance and understanding just for the sake of it, could lead to a degradation of society, slavery, or possibly death.

Of course I'm not condoning cruelty or disrespect here, which intolerance connotes. I'm simply saying one has to be able to discern between right and wrong, safe relationships and potentially dangerous ones, and take precautions to ensure life.

I don't think Melville expects us to believe head selling, doll worshiping, or cannibalism are acceptable behaviors. It seems more like he's created an exaggerated cultural barrier to force the reader to reconcile it with Qeequeg's loyalty and compassion. He's saying there is a good man, a loyal friend, beyond what his culture has taught him - right or wrong as it might be.


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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

mef6395: "As Ishmael says, You cannot hide the soul. I think he is a perceptive and sensitive kind of fellow, a good judge of character. Even if by superficial appearances it seems obvious to him that Queequeg is a savage, yet he is convinced that the man's countenance has something in it which is by no means disagreeable ... there are traces there of an honest heart, somebody courageous, independent, noble and proud."

matthieu_78741: Maybe George Bush was thinking of Melville when he got a sense of Putin's soul. Kidding. I actually think fannuzir explained it best in post #38. Ishmael disregards his suspicions and suspends self preservation. Without that, though, the story isn't there. Just like he shouldn't have gotten on the ship with all the warning signs, but he did. Reminds me of a Vonage commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcHLcNisAbc.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 18: "Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of"



pmath wrote:
I found the following passage very moving: what was Bildad thinking of here?

"Hear him, hear him now," cried Peleg, marching across the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into his pockets,--"hear him, all of ye. Think of that! When every moment we thought the ship would sink! Death and the Judgment then? What? With all three masts making such an everlasting thundering against the side; and every sea breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of Death and the Judgment then? No! no time to think about Death then. Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of; and how to save all hands--how to rig jury-masts--how to get into the nearest port; that was what I was thinking of."

Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very quietly overlooking some sailmakers who were mending a top-sail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick up a patch, or save an end of tarred twine, which otherwise might have been wasted.



I like that passage alot. You're helping me read Melville more closely and see his view of humanness. I see here a belief in the little chores of life, like when he goes about picking up the debris after delivering this little "sermon." Despite the peace of little distractions, he knows we all have it coming, and can count on some miracles or heroism now and then but not escape.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land



matthieu_78741 wrote:
mef6395: "As Ishmael says, You cannot hide the soul. I think he is a perceptive and sensitive kind of fellow, a good judge of character. Even if by superficial appearances it seems obvious to him that Queequeg is a savage, yet he is convinced that the man's countenance has something in it which is by no means disagreeable ... there are traces there of an honest heart, somebody courageous, independent, noble and proud."

matthieu_78741: Maybe George Bush was thinking of Melville when he got a sense of Putin's soul. Kidding. I actually think fannuzir explained it best in post #38. Ishmael disregards his suspicions and suspends self preservation. Without that, though, the story isn't there. Just like he shouldn't have gotten on the ship with all the warning signs, but he did. Reminds me of a Vonage commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcHLcNisAbc.


Yeah, I have to agree here, particularly because Mathieu agrees with me (!) Although there's much to laud here in regard to cultural tolerance and bedroom diversity,you can't laden your scene with so many land mines--harpooon, shrunken heads, homoerotic body imagery, sleeping partner of color--and expect to have your narrator leave with just a nice life lesson. A door has been opened and a threshold has been passed . . . Ishmael has already left his world behind, and he's still on land.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land, Chapters 1-27

Mef says:
I appreciate Father Mapple, he's funny. He has passion; an ingenious, inventive, and exceptionally imaginative preacher who is not above embellishing Bible data in order to deliver an effective sermon and get his message across.

What a performance. He certainly knows his audience, and can render bibilical truth in the language of daily whaling duty. Anyone who has ever encountered the famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," and any early morning televangelist will know the tradition that Melville is both satirizing and oddly, respecting. In fact, most of what Maple says seems to be the story that Melville is trying to tell . . .
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Re: Chapter 1: "Loomings"

Loomings

I think this is an excellent chapter. It really sets the scene for the story, Melville's philosophy, and we learn quite a bit about our narrator Ishmael. I find the title doubly appropriate but I'm simply sticking with its dictionary meaning for now--a loom or device for weaving often symbolic of the Fates and the foreshadowing of a magnified and threatening form.

The Loom of Fate

I assume this is many years later and Ishmael is telling his story, probably remembering the directive of Father Maple's sermon "To preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood." (More on the sermon later.) He recalls when he first started out as a young man who thought at the time that he was following the directive of his freewill. It was a time when it was "a damp drizzly November in his soul" and so he leaves behind the city and seeks out the sea, the source of life, to rediscover himself and what life is about. "...that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all." It is only now through hindsight that he realizes that this was all dictated by Fate: "...I should now take it into my head to go a whaleing voyage; this is the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some accountable ways....doubtless, my going on this voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago."

The Looming Image of What is to Come

And, of course, he didn't think of the significance of his wanting to encounter the huge, terrifying, and also the symbolic meaning of that creature called Moby Dick. "...there floated into my inmost soul endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air."

Bucky
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Chapter 18: More on Bildad

Thanks, Bob. I'm not sure whether Bildad was being frugal or sentimental here: maybe both!


fanuzzir wrote:
I like that passage alot. You're helping me read Melville more closely and see his view of humanness. I see here a belief in the little chores of life, like when he goes about picking up the debris after delivering this little "sermon." Despite the peace of little distractions, he knows we all have it coming, and can count on some miracles or heroism now and then but not escape.

pmath wrote:
I found the following passage very moving: what was Bildad thinking of here?

"Hear him, hear him now," cried Peleg, marching across the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into his pockets,--"hear him, all of ye. Think of that! When every moment we thought the ship would sink! Death and the Judgment then? What? With all three masts making such an everlasting thundering against the side; and every sea breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of Death and the Judgment then? No! no time to think about Death then. Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of; and how to save all hands--how to rig jury-masts--how to get into the nearest port; that was what I was thinking of."

Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very quietly overlooking some sailmakers who were mending a top-sail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick up a patch, or save an end of tarred twine, which otherwise might have been wasted.


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Chapters 1 and 22: Working Class

[ Edited ]
I agree, Bob: to me, it sounds like the philosophy of a certain carpenter from Nazareth! Why do you think HM had the Pequod sail on Christmas Day? From Chapter 22:

At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided. It was a short, cold Christmas; and as the short northern day merged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor. The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the bows.

fanuzzir wrote:
I don't know how, but Melville puts these tremendous words in a working class dialect, and speaks to working class needs. And yet they are deeply philosophical and moving in their depiction of a human condition. Thanks so much for this post.

pmath wrote:
This is one of my favorite passages [from Chapter 1]:

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way--either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.


Message Edited by pmath on 12-20-200606:01 PM

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bible background

[ Edited ]
The notes in B&N edition are sufficient to avoid a confusion.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 12-31-200604:24 AM

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Re: Chapter 18: More on Bildad

[ Edited ]
Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very quietly overlooking some sailmakers who were mending a top-sail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick up a patch, or save an end of tarred twine, which otherwise might have been wasted.

~ Philomath
-----------------------------

Actually, this is part of the New England mind set. I remember once visiting the home of an old-time New Englander in Litchfield, Connecticut. In the kitchen there was a jar labeled "String Too Short to Use."

Bucky

Message Edited by leakybucket on 12-20-200611:26 AM

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Chapter 18: Very funny, Bucky!

Why would they keep such lengths?


leakybucket wrote:
Actually, this is part of the New England mind set. I remember once visiting the home of an old-time New Englander in Litchfield, Connecticut. In the kitchen there was a jar labeled "String Too Short to Use."

pmath wrote:
I'm not sure whether Bildad was being frugal or sentimental here: maybe both!

fanuzzir wrote:
I see here a belief in the little chores of life, like when he goes about picking up the debris after delivering this little "sermon." Despite the peace of little distractions, he knows we all have it coming, and can count on some miracles or heroism now and then but not escape.

pmath wrote:
I found the following passage very moving: what was Bildad thinking of here?

"Hear him, hear him now," cried Peleg, marching across the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into his pockets,--"hear him, all of ye. Think of that! When every moment we thought the ship would sink! Death and the Judgment then? What? With all three masts making such an everlasting thundering against the side; and every sea breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of Death and the Judgment then? No! no time to think about Death then. Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of; and how to save all hands--how to rig jury-masts--how to get into the nearest port; that was what I was thinking of."

Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very quietly overlooking some sailmakers who were mending a top-sail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick up a patch, or save an end of tarred twine, which otherwise might have been wasted.




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Choisya
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Re: Chapter 18: Very funny, Bucky!

Perhaps most country folks did this sort of thing before there was access to cars or regular transport, because they would not be able to get to shops easily? The same reasoning would apply on board a ship on a long voyage. It certainly shows the difference between our throwaway society and Bildads.




pmath wrote:
Why would they keep such lengths?


leakybucket wrote:
Actually, this is part of the New England mind set. I remember once visiting the home of an old-time New Englander in Litchfield, Connecticut. In the kitchen there was a jar labeled "String Too Short to Use."

pmath wrote:
I'm not sure whether Bildad was being frugal or sentimental here: maybe both!
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leakybucket
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Re: Chapter 18: String Too Short to Use

Actually, I thought it might be worthwhile exploring the New England mind set to further understand Moby Dick. However, I thought it more appropriate to put this thread under our miscellaneous section rather than clutter up the actual book discussions. It is under "String Too Short to Use" and temporarily you will find it around page 6.

-------Off Topic but I have to make a statement for the record

Unfortunately, this board design in its present form is getting increasingly difficult to navigate. I think this group has been about as well organized as possible and that the posters have been most diligent in maintaining as much order as possible. But it is already getting bad for those of us in the discussion and will totally frustrate those who come on board next week. And we are just getting started in our discussion! Any further statements I will reserve for the Community Room.

Bucky




Choisya wrote:
Perhaps most country folks did this sort of thing before there was access to cars or regular transport, because they would not be able to get to shops easily? The same reasoning would apply on board a ship on a long voyage. It certainly shows the difference between our throwaway society and Bildads.




pmath wrote:
Why would they keep such lengths?


leakybucket wrote:
Actually, this is part of the New England mind set. I remember once visiting the home of an old-time New Englander in Litchfield, Connecticut. In the kitchen there was a jar labeled "String Too Short to Use."

pmath wrote:
I'm not sure whether Bildad was being frugal or sentimental here: maybe both!


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