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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: Fanuzzir: Ishmael meets Queequeg - homo-eroticism.

"I was not suggesting that it was a homosexual relationship but that the writing is homo-erotic, as the italicised phrases in my quote show. There is a difference between homo-eroticism, homosexual behaviour and homosexuality. I am sure there have been other comments on this aspect over the years."

Yes Choisya, there is a cottage industry of homosexual critiques, the most famous being Leslie Fiedler's Love and Death in the American Novel. And there is both a conceptual and historical distinction to be made between all the terms you used; I'll throw in "homosocial," which refers to male friendships that have erotic and intimate meanings but do not categorize sexuality as separate, distinct, or distinguishing.
Something of the latter is at work here: surely Melville is playing with our exoticism regarding homosexuality and "savagery," or else he wouldn't have put the "marriage" in quotes as an anthropological custom. It's part of Melville's project of putting the truly intimate, meaningful things of this novel off shore, away from the familiar and easily satirized American setting.

For me, the most significance chapter on this subject is Chapter 13, "Wheelbarrow," where the two are the object of "jeers" for displaying their friendship, whatever it is, in public. Are they marginalized for being gay (not bloody likely--exclusive male friendships were the rule) or inter-racial? On the other hand, Ishamel sure comes to Queeqeg's defense like he is the only one in a position to truly know his virtues. . . .

Then there's the public nature of their friendship, always a parable for "coming out" but here not as obvious. Everyone snickers when the two share a bed in private, but they go about their business; they jeer when they appear as friends in public.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 18: More on Bildad

I'm responding to my own post here to bring up further impressions of Bildad and Peleg: Are they not the most religiously charged symbolic figures who are putting men aboard to save or lose their souls. They were funny, yes, but all of a sudden I got the idea that they were ending the humorous section of the novel and ask that we look at the Pequod as the journey of the damned, or at the least those whose fates are in question . . .
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 18: String Too Short to Use

Leaky wrote:
Actually, I thought it might be worthwhile exploring the New England mind

On this subject, I love Chapter 6 on New Bedford. According to Ishmael, it is more South Sea colony than American port--filled with every color and religion the world can offer. On the other hand, it is "a land of oil." I can't think of a better way to phrase the contradiction of the United States itself: capitalism with imperial power; but so riven with ethnic diversity that its only national ethnicity is people with oil, or money.
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leakybucket
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Re: Father's Mapple's Sermon

Sorry, folks. I tried to find an appropriate place to put this post and now I just noticed there is another thread on this subject a little farther down.

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/bn/board/message?board.id=MobyDick&message.id=308

We are doing the best we can but there has to be a better way!

Bucky
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ELee
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Re: Chapter 18: More on Bildad

"...ask that we look at the Pequod as the journey of the damned, or at the least those whose fates are in question..."

Two Charon's in a boat?...
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Choisya
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Re: Chapter 18: More on Bildad

Are you likening Bildad and Peleg to Charon, the Ferryman of the dead (who ferried the souls of the dead across the River Echeron to the underworld), E Lee? They certainly took their pieces of gold (obols?) at the outset of the journey. Bildad was of mean appearance and behaviour, so is more like the mythical Charon.




ELee wrote:
"...ask that we look at the Pequod as the journey of the damned, or at the least those whose fates are in question..."

Two Charon's in a boat?...


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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 18: More on Bildad

Let's see, where would I put their character archetype. They don't embark on the journey, so they're not true guides. They are more like barkers or confidence men who take your money and then your life. That whole long satire about the lay given to each seaman and the 777th share allotted to Ishmael was an elaborate joke that nonetheless told us of his share in heaven. Why does this person earn this meager share when he casts himself as such an innocent, whaling for a lark or a philosophical urge? I wonder if others are wondering what he wanted that cap and ball for.
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Chapter 18: TWELFTH NIGHT

Bob, some of us are currently reading and discussing William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the British Classics board: below is a copy of one of my posts, on Act II.

pmath wrote (message linked here):
This, from Scene iv, made me think of Ishmael in Moby Dick!

CLOWN
Now, the melancholy god protect thee; and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal. I would have men of such constancy put to sea, that their business might be every thing and their intent every where; for that’s it that always makes a good voyage of nothing. Farewell.


fanuzzir wrote:
Why does this person earn this meager share when he casts himself as such an innocent, whaling for a lark or a philosophical urge? I wonder if others are wondering what he wanted that cap and ball for.
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Choisya
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Re: Chapter 18: (Possible Spoiler) Merry Christmas from Bildad & Peleg?

[ Edited ]
Although E Lee mentioned Charon in relation to Bildad and Peleg, I find Ahab himself fits more to that analogy. One analysis I see for Bildad & Peleg is from the heading of Chapter 22 - 'Merry Christmas'. The heading is the only reference to this merry/holy season in this chapter and is perhaps dramatic irony (foreshadowing): When Bildad & Peleg mourn their own leaving of the ship they know that they are abandoning the captain and crew to the sea and perhaps to a less than 'merry'/holy voyage. In this sense B&P are more like the Sirens who sat on rocks by the sea luring them to their death. In ancient Greek mythology, sirens were also prophets and sang in unison, as Bildad & Peleg do. In the Iliad Odysseus had his sailors stuff their ears with wax and tie him to the mast of the ship so that they could not hear or obey the Sirens deathly calls - perhaps there is a later chapter in the book where Ahab is tied to a masthead to escape the lure of Moby Dick?. (Bildad is also the name of one of Job's comforters who saw suffering as the punishment for sin and who later was made (by God) to apologise to Job for taunting him....)

The word lay is probably a warning about B&P laying up treasures for themselves on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). The number 777 has significance for Jews and is used throughout the Bible: Seven days of the week, seven plagues, seven pillars of wisdom etc and numerous references to seven in Revelations. 777 represents perfection and holiness as opposed to 666 which represents Satan and sin, so the sailors of the Pequod having a 777th lay may represent a blessing, despite it being awarded by the 'sirens'?

Just a few random thoughts at 2am on Boxing Day:smileyhappy:





fanuzzir wrote:
Let's see, where would I put their character archetype. They don't embark on the journey, so they're not true guides. They are more like barkers or confidence men who take your money and then your life. That whole long satire about the lay given to each seaman and the 777th share allotted to Ishmael was an elaborate joke that nonetheless told us of his share in heaven. Why does this person earn this meager share when he casts himself as such an innocent, whaling for a lark or a philosophical urge? I wonder if others are wondering what he wanted that cap and ball for.

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-25-200609:22 PM

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Choisya
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Re: Ahab - the reader's battering ram?

[ Edited ]
Has anyone noticed that whenever Ahab appears in the novel, he is accompanied by many adjectives and alliterations? Words rain down on us, as in Chapter 28, Ahab, when the Captain's presence is announced: 'There was an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determined, unsurrendable wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of that glance...' And throughout Chapter 37 'Sunset' there is a surfeit of words in the cabin reverie of Ahab: 'I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my tracks; let them but first I pass....Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine.[The Iron Crown of Lombardy]...is bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings, but darkly feel that I wear that, that dazzlingly confounds. "'Tis iron - that I know - not gold. 'Tis split too - that I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal; aye, steel skull, mine; the sort that needs to helmet in the most brain-battering fight!"'

I feel that each time Ahab appears the reader is having his/her brain battered by words, as a presage of what is to come with Moby Dick, whose skull is described in Chapter 76 'The Battering Ram' as being 'paved with horses hooves'. This raining down of words and images is also in keeping with the erudite nature of the novel and its well read narrator, Ishmael.

Incidentally, the phrase 'Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine' remind me of the second verse of John Keat's (1795-1821) 'Ode to a Nightingale', which Melville had mostly likely read:-

'O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: '

The full poem, which is often voted a Brit favourite, and is one of mine, is here:-

http://www.bartleby.com/101/624.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-26-200610:08 AM

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Re: Ahab - the reader's battering ram?

Good catch, Choisya! There's some wondrful poetry in this book. It can certainly stand many readings.



Choisya wrote:
Has anyone noticed that whenever Ahab appears in the novel, he is accompanied by many adjectives and alliterations? Words rain down on us, as in Chapter 28, Ahab, when the Captain's presence is announced: 'There was an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determined, unsurrendable wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of that glance...' And throughout Chapter 37 'Sunset' there is a surfeit of words in the cabin reverie of Ahab: 'I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my tracks; let them but first I pass....Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine.[The Iron Crown of Lombardy]...is bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings, but darkly feel that I wear that, that dazzlingly confounds. "'Tis iron - that I know - not gold. 'Tis split too - that I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal; aye, steel skull, mine; the sort that needs to helmet in the most brain-battering fight!"'

I feel that each time Ahab appears the reader is having his/her brain battered by words, as a presage of what is to come with Moby Dick, whose skull is described in Chapter 76 'The Battering Ram' as being 'paved with horses hooves'. This raining down of words and images is also in keeping with the erudite nature of the novel and its well read narrator, Ishmael.

Incidentally, the phrase 'Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine' remind me of the second verse of John Keat's (1795-1821) 'Ode to a Nightingale', which Melville had mostly likely read:-

'O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: '

The full poem, which is often voted a Brit favourite, and is one of mine, is here:-

http://www.bartleby.com/101/624.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-26-200610:08 AM




"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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Choisya
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Re: Ahab - the reader's battering ram?

The post below has now been moved to the Dramatic Personae thread for further discussion:smileyhappy:




Choisya wrote:
Has anyone noticed that whenever Ahab appears in the novel, he is accompanied by many adjectives and alliterations? Words rain down on us, as in Chapter 28, Ahab, when the Captain's presence is announced: 'There was an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determined, unsurrendable wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of that glance...' And throughout Chapter 37 'Sunset' there is a surfeit of words in the cabin reverie of Ahab: 'I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my tracks; let them but first I pass....Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine.[The Iron Crown of Lombardy]...is bright with many a gem; I, the wearer, see not its far flashings, but darkly feel that I wear that, that dazzlingly confounds. "'Tis iron - that I know - not gold. 'Tis split too - that I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against the solid metal; aye, steel skull, mine; the sort that needs to helmet in the most brain-battering fight!"'

I feel that each time Ahab appears the reader is having his/her brain battered by words, as a presage of what is to come with Moby Dick, whose skull is described in Chapter 76 'The Battering Ram' as being 'paved with horses hooves'. This raining down of words and images is also in keeping with the erudite nature of the novel and its well read narrator, Ishmael.

Incidentally, the phrase 'Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm waves blush like wine' remind me of the second verse of John Keat's (1795-1821) 'Ode to a Nightingale', which Melville had mostly likely read:-

'O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: '

The full poem, which is often voted a Brit favourite, and is one of mine, is here:-

http://www.bartleby.com/101/624.html

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-26-200610:08 AM




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chad
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Inns

[ Edited ]
Are people just talking about homosexual undertones? I'd thought it might be best to tie some of these in later. Interesting to note: Ishmael could not afford the other Inns- more bright and cheery. We might want to contrast the Inns?

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 12-27-200602:16 PM

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Choisya
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Re: Inns



chad wrote:
Interesting to note: Ishmael could not afford the other Inns- more bright and cheery. We might want to contrast the Inns?

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 12-27-200602:16 PM







Thoughts on Inns: Ishmael's search for an Inn just before the Christmas day voyage of the Pequod can be likened to the quest of Mary & Joseph to find a suitable Inn. The name of the innkeeper at The Spouter is Peter Coffin, no doubt a portent of things to come - St Peter is the patron saint of fishermen and also holds the keys to the gates of heaven. The descriptions of the Spouter Inn are full of violent, whale hunting imagery, also foreshadowing things to come.
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Re: Inns

"The name of the innkeeper at The Spouter is Peter Coffin, no doubt a portent of things to come...The descriptions of the Spouter Inn are full of violent, whale hunting imagery, also foreshadowing things to come."

And speaking of portends, in a corner of the common room of the Spouter-Inn is a "dark-looking den-the bar" shaped roughly like a right whale's head and surrounded by the wide, arched bone of a whales jaw, which the seamen must approach to purchase "deliriums and death" in deceitful tumblers of cheating proportions.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 18: TWELFTH NIGHT

Now, the melancholy god protect thee; and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal. I would have men of such constancy put to sea, that their business might be every thing and their intent every where; for that’s it that always makes a good voyage of nothing. Farewell.


This puts me in mind of Ishmael's plea to Bulkington in Chapter 23: "Glimpses do you seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth: that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea." A purified, better self lies out there in the deep, says Melville. So maybe Ishmael the unredeemed has the deeper soul by another kind of religious measure. I do think all of Melville's factual whaling lore, the whaling mythology, and the philosophical mysticism is an attempt to create a deeply textured literary-secular "religion." What do you all think?
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 18: (Possible Spoiler) Merry Christmas from Bildad & Peleg?

Chapter 22 - 'Merry Christmas'. The heading is the only reference to this merry/holy season in this chapter and is perhaps dramatic irony (foreshadowing): When Bildad & Peleg mourn their own leaving of the ship they know that they are abandoning the captain and crew to the sea and perhaps to a less than 'merry'/holy voyage. In this sense B&P are more like the Sirens who sat on rocks by the sea luring them to their death

Excellent observation, Choisya. I too found the contrast between 22 and 23 more than stark: it was a leap from the godly voyage of a sanctified ship to the evil errand of a godless captain. Let me explain: Bildad and Peleg literally send the Pequod off with a hymn that speaks to the parallel between the Pequod's crew and the chosen people of God, the Old Testament Jews. They are incoherent and possibly mad, but they still give the voyage a security that it is doing God's work. Then they disembark, the as Melville writes, "we gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic." And Ishmael and the crew are on their own: without God, without Biblical parallel. Chapter 24 features his effort to give whaling its own kind of heroic literature; then he introduces Ahab, and we know we are not on the banks of the River Jordan anymore, as Bildad's hymn had suggested. I saw Melville's brilliance in this transition, and the mandate for his own artistry.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Ahab - the reader's battering ram?

I do want to return the discussion of Ahab's adjectives to the chronological discussion of the chapters 28 and 29; the more adjectives are used, the less Ahab actually appears. Melville clearly means to wreath his main character in mystery and legend while leaving a hole in the doughnut, so to speak.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Inns

"The name of the innkeeper at The Spouter is Peter Coffin, no doubt a portent of things to come...The descriptions of the Spouter Inn are full of violent, whale hunting imagery, also foreshadowing things to come."

And speaking of portends, in a corner of the common room of the Spouter-Inn is a "dark-looking den-the bar" shaped roughly like a right whale's head and surrounded by the wide, arched bone of a whales jaw, which the seamen must approach to purchase "deliriums and death" in deceitful tumblers of cheating proportions.

ELee and Choisya, great work in peeling back the layers of these settings. There's more than dark humor at work in these descriptions: there is allegory, which takes flight once the men actually board their ship and face the monsters of the deep. The cameraderie of the inn, an exclusively male preserve, has some role in their fate as well.
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Re: Inns



fanuzzir wrote:
"The name of the innkeeper at The Spouter is Peter Coffin, no doubt a portent of things to come...The descriptions of the Spouter Inn are full of violent, whale hunting imagery, also foreshadowing things to come."

And speaking of portends, in a corner of the common room of the Spouter-Inn is a "dark-looking den-the bar" shaped roughly like a right whale's head and surrounded by the wide, arched bone of a whales jaw, which the seamen must approach to purchase "deliriums and death" in deceitful tumblers of cheating proportions.

ELee and Choisya, great work in peeling back the layers of these settings. There's more than dark humor at work in these descriptions: there is allegory, which takes flight once the men actually board their ship and face the monsters of the deep. The cameraderie of the inn, an exclusively male preserve, has some role in their fate as well.




I'll second that. I'm sitting here in wonder at the eloquence and erudition of all three of you. Then when Bucky drops in, we've really got an awesome group. (Others, too, but my memory for names isn't very long.)
"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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