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Choisya
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Re: Numbers in Moby Dick

Thanks for pointing this out Friery - we had all overlooked the significance of the magical number of three:smileyhappy:




friery wrote:
I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion of Melville's use of numbers.

The last episode of the book--The Chase--takes three days. Plus, it takes three chapters. (I think that's the only episode that spills over into more than one chapter.)

The number three recurs time and time again (and time again) in the book. One of the best examples of this is The Candles chapter (number 119.) Melville describes three masts, each tipped with three corpusants (mystical lights). Stubb says "the corpusants have mercy on us all" three times. Dagoo rises up to thrice his real stature. The three "savage" harpooners all glow with the lightning. Melville uses the triple phrase, "standing, or stepping or running" in describing the skeletons in Herculaneum. And he uses the phrase "tri-ponted trinity of flames." In an aside (another theatrical devices Melville uses time and again), "the nine flames leap lengthwise to thrice their previous height."

Another wonderful example is the Midnight Aloft--Thunder and Lightning chapter, number 122. This chapter, the shortest in the book, has three sentences, with three phrases or sounds each. And there are 36 words in the chapter.

The number three has a mystical (and religious) significance. Time is divided into past, present, and future. Three is the prime triangular number. A nuclear family has three members--father, mother, child. The Christian God has three persons. There were three crosses on Calvary (and three masts on the Pequod). And Jesus is said to have risen from the dead on the third day.


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donyskiw
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Re: Chapters 104 and 108: More Vertebrae

I think at this point, we are starting to see more of what Melville keeps referring to as Ahab's "monomaniacal" nature coming out. He is looking at the doubloon and seeing himself as all-powerful.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
Dissolve myself to a verterbrae? What do you think of Chapter 99, when he nails the doubloon to the mast?


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fanuzzir
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"The intense Pequod"



donyskiw wrote:
I think at this point, we are starting to see more of what Melville keeps referring to as Ahab's "monomaniacal" nature coming out. He is looking at the doubloon and seeing himself as all-powerful.

Denise




I agree with Denise--the ship seems to be an extension of Ahab in the chapters 115 to 133, as he stands like a mast himself. Nowhere has he been so unequivocally in charge of Melville's book or the ship. No more subtlety here. The only warning about his influence comes from him to Flask; no one else is capable of objective thought at this point. Even the heartbreaking tale of the Rachel's captain does not move "the anvil." A devastating series of chapters, and some of the most exciting as well.
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friery
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Ishmael & Ahab

Did anyone notice that there's no dialogue between Ishmael and Ahab?

Why is this?
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Re: Ishmael & Ahab (spoiler to the end)

[ Edited ]

friery wrote:
Did anyone notice that there's no dialogue between Ishmael and Ahab?

Why is this?



That is an interesting question. I think the captain talked to his mates, possibly to the carpenter when there was reason or to Pip whom he picked up but generally not to the sailors. Ahab didn't talk so much at all.

Then we have the structure/meaning of the book where Ishmael is an opposite to Ahab.
Run with the thought and tell me why?

Ishmael survived, Ahab didn't, sharks snapped on Ahab's boat, they didn't snap on Ishmael's coffin. Was Ishmael ever identified with the hunt and chase? My impression is he was not.What can two absolutely different people tell each other? Nothing.

ziki
my momentary take on it

Message Edited by ziki on 01-30-200705:11 PM

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Choisya
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Re: Ishmael & Ahab (spoiler to the end)

I think the person he spoke to most was Starbuck who I saw as his conscience. As the book decribed the hunt and the chase it great detail I think Ishmael, as the narrator, had to be part of it?




ziki wrote:

friery wrote:
Did anyone notice that there's no dialogue between Ishmael and Ahab?

Why is this?



That is an interesting question. I think the captain talked to his mates, possibly to the carpenter when there was reason or to Pip whom he picked up but generally not to the sailors. Ahab didn't talk so much at all.

Then we have the structure/meaning of the book where Ishmael is an opposite to Ahab.
Run with the thought and tell me why?

Ishmael survived, Ahab didn't, sharks snapped on Ahab's boat, they didn't snap on Ishmael's coffin. Was Ishmael ever identified with the hunt and chase? My impression is he was not.What can two absolutely different people tell each other? Nothing.

ziki
my momentary take on it

Message Edited by ziki on 01-30-200705:11 PM




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fanuzzir
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Where's Ishmael?

Yes, Ishmael disappears; there's not dramatic role for him once he gets on ship. He's important to the plot, though, as you'll find out; he's the reason for it all. Throughout the drama, however, he's the disembodied voice.
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Re: Where's Ishmael?



fanuzzir wrote:
Yes, Ishmael disappears; there's not dramatic role for him once he gets on ship. He's important to the plot, though, as you'll find out; he's the reason for it all. Throughout the drama, however, he's the disembodied voice.




Well, there could be a lot happening with Ishmael and the crew but Melville didn't choose to write such book. When I read the book I felt that the narrator was shapeshifting and the POV was not consistent. One voice I called poetry voice, second we had Ishmael- character in action- at the beginning of the book where he was human possible to grasp and then there was this neutral distant narrator of all the whale facts where I wondered who that actually was.

C.F.Hovde who wrote the introduction to the BN edition conformed this (I read the intro last) eventhough he used other terms for the three styles.

Personally I am not clear why Melville wrote in that way but looking at the whole book it worked. He just doesn't do anything as you would expect him to. And even if I fret about that I actually admire his daring genius and lack of respect for conventions. I am disinclined to think it was just a technical faux pas.

The poetic patches could easily become bombastic if he would stick to that style for long...as it is they are like some fata morgana...a refuge.

A ship is a limited setting and part of me wished he'd baked the whale facts into some action...i.e.as he did when he had Queequeg on the rope or if he put himself as Ishmael into some action (he just evaporated)....but ...it would be another book.

In this way he indirectly transfered the tedious feeling of the whaling life, the days that float together and many other things just because he treated the material in this particular way. It was Ishmael's first whaling trip, all was new and he describes details for us who didn't see it either but from some vantage point.

Often he doesn't tell me how things are...he talks and talks about something- this and that- and then afterwards I realize he was telling me something totally different....puff... a realization appears out of nowhere.


ziki
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donyskiw
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:


donyskiw wrote:
I think at this point, we are starting to see more of what Melville keeps referring to as Ahab's "monomaniacal" nature coming out. He is looking at the doubloon and seeing himself as all-powerful.

Denise




I agree with Denise--the ship seems to be an extension of Ahab in the chapters 115 to 133, as he stands like a mast himself. Nowhere has he been so unequivocally in charge of Melville's book or the ship. No more subtlety here. The only warning about his influence comes from him to Flask; no one else is capable of objective thought at this point. Even the heartbreaking tale of the Rachel's captain does not move "the anvil." A devastating series of chapters, and some of the most exciting as well.



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Laurel
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.





"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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donyskiw
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

I kept seeing that during my reading. But it was upside down to me. Because Ahab's "mast" pointed the opposite way as those of the ship.

Denise



Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.








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Laurel
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

A bit dizzying.



donyskiw wrote:
I kept seeing that during my reading. But it was upside down to me. Because Ahab's "mast" pointed the opposite way as those of the ship.

Denise



Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.











"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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Re: "The intense Pequod"

So when Ahab loses a peg at the end it fortells the end of the ship as well. Anyone see phallic symbolism here?


Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.








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Choisya
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

I saw several phallic symbols in the book Fanuzzir but did not refer to them because of folk's sensibilities and because I thought that at the time Melville wrote they probably wouldn't be acknowledged either.




fanuzzir wrote:
So when Ahab loses a peg at the end it fortells the end of the ship as well. Anyone see phallic symbolism here?


Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.











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donyskiw
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Re: "The intense Pequod"



fanuzzir wrote:
So when Ahab loses a peg at the end it fortells the end of the ship as well. Anyone see phallic symbolism here?


Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.











No, I missed the phallic symbolism, probably because I was concerned when he kept worrying about getting poked in the groin by the artificial limb!

Denise
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donyskiw
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

Yeah, add to that the waves and it's a scene for Dramamine!

Denise



Laurel wrote:
A bit dizzying.



donyskiw wrote:
I kept seeing that during my reading. But it was upside down to me. Because Ahab's "mast" pointed the opposite way as those of the ship.

Denise



Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.














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Re: "The intense Pequod"

[ Edited ]
He lost the leg three times.....again the magic number 3. He is being immobilized over and over again but he fights it, he doesn't want to give up. He's not prepared to loose his potence.

I do not know, please enlighten me, but it seems like men generally equal let go with giving up and loss of power. Add to it the sea=she who will swallow him up, I say ack!

There's a difference I feel: giving up= you're a piece of dead wood, letting go= you still splash and enjoy the ride and make waves. Can that get more sexual (in New Englad)? Nature has its ways to play.

Man's relation to life is creative: creation involves destruction but is not ONLY the destructive drive that pulls. I think Melville's sense-moral is just that evil will not win, like in any other fairy tale.

ziki
now that was a strange train of thoughts...hmmm.

Message Edited by ziki on 02-01-200708:34 PM

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Choisya
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Re: "The intense Pequod"

Ziki wrote:
I think Melville's sense-moral is just that evil will not win, like in any other fairy tale.

But surely in this tale evil - death - did win?




ziki wrote:
He lost the leg three times.....again the magic number 3. He is being immobilized over and over again but he fights it, he doesn't want to give up. He's not prepared to loose his potence.

I do not know, please enlighten me, but it seems like men generally equal let go with giving up and loss of power. Add to it the sea=she who will swallow him up, I say ack!

There's a difference I feel: giving up= you're a piece of dead wood, letting go= you still splash and enjoy the ride and make waves. Can that get more sexual (in New Englad)? Nature has its ways to play.

Man's relation to life is creative: creation involves destruction but is not ONLY the destructive drive that pulls. I think Melville's sense-moral is just that evil will not win, like in any other fairy tale.

ziki
now that was a strange train of thoughts...hmmm.

Message Edited by ziki on 02-01-200708:34 PM




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fanuzzir
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Re: "The intense Pequod"



donyskiw wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:
So when Ahab loses a peg at the end it fortells the end of the ship as well. Anyone see phallic symbolism here?


Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.











No, I missed the phallic symbolism, probably because I was concerned when he kept worrying about getting poked in the groin by the artificial limb!

Denise




I can't write so well when I'm laughing so hard . . .
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fanuzzir
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Re: "The intense Pequod"



Choisya wrote:
I saw several phallic symbols in the book Fanuzzir but did not refer to them because of folk's sensibilities and because I thought that at the time Melville wrote they probably wouldn't be acknowledged either.




fanuzzir wrote:
So when Ahab loses a peg at the end it fortells the end of the ship as well. Anyone see phallic symbolism here?


Laurel wrote:
Good catches, Denise!



donyskiw wrote:
Even before we see Ahab as part of the ship there are allusions to him being a ship: his losing a leg is referred to him as being "dismasted" and his wooden leg is referred to as a "spar". Then he later merges into the ship.














This is very much Melville's wheelhouse, the phallic power of manhood. It's very much a part of his artitistic sensibility as well, which is very much like Whitman's in being concerned with bodily and even sexual bonds between men.
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