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chad
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Pip

[ Edited ]
This character was kind of popular.... I don't know what everyone feels about Ahab and Pip, but Pip almost becomes part of Ahab's mind, and in effect, part of the command center of the Pequod after Ahab imprisons the new "visionary" Pip in his cabin. You get the sense that a new union is formed -- Ahab requires Pip's youth and vitality. And you wonder about such unions, both prior to the civil war and after... Pip onviously did not enjoy too much freedom onboard, or Queequeg, but they probably were viewed differently than slaves in the south, for example...

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 06-27-2007 12:09 PM
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Meaningful vs. meaningless

[ Edited ]
You can say that the world is meaningful, but meaningful through our own language. So, I say "meaningless", if there would be no language. This is a critical point of Moby. Words describe our world and our words are given "meanings", which are commonly accepted definitions which chnage through time. At some point the word deviated from the original definition by a usage that became more acceptable. Collectively, our language is representative of the minds of the masses. It may be difficult to describe how I feel or make up a new definition of a word- the masses will tell me what my words mean, although my definition may be a "truer" definition of that word. The struggle in language is represented by the struggle between Ahab and Starbuck: Starbuck tries to keep Ahab rooted to the masses or the purposes of the voyage; Ahab of course wishes to deviate from the norm. So Melville chose to make language, as did Hawthorne, a theme of the novel-- I liked this one better, I like animals.

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 06-29-2007 01:43 PM
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The gold doubloon

The gold doubloon is also interesting-- it is what Ahab uses to coerce the crew to engage the white whale. But the gold coin bears inscriptions which Ahab hopes the crew will ignore; he hopes that they will not find any meaning in the gold coin other than its worth. You can extrapolate the Peqoud's situation to our own dollar bill: will the inscriptions found on the dollar bill ultimately lead to a break away from the society now formed? Economics considers the dollar bill as a unit and generally ignores the markings...

Chad
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evolution of science

[ Edited ]
Science is also mentioned in Moby and this is interesting as well. But, as a general theme of the literature of the 1800's: science is what is real or what is believable. Melville coins phrenology as a science as well as the classification of whales. Science, in effect, became a center, something which attracted or circumnavigated people, like the sun or a democracy...

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 07-07-2007 03:07 PM
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The public

Someone mentioned, "the public." Well, I guess the public can be a great whale that engulfs the individual and it may also be difficult for me to leave or even lead that whale to a perpendicular orientation--let's fit everyone in the space shuttle. The whale can achieve the perpendicular, but his own body weight brings him back down to the surface of the water, the interface of sea and sky.

Chad

PS-The sun is temporary? I think current astronomers are saying this. This is usually not something we think about everyday. At some point we have to find a way to leave our addiction to the sun or find a way to endure. I think we're currently trying to save our skin by reducing CO2 emissions, etc.
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perpendicular

[ Edited ]
This was a big topic. Two lines intersect at right angles in homes, on the masts of ships, on the christian cross or anything that forms right angles to an interface. Other examples include a whale's tail to the surface of the ocean, a tree to the ground's surface, the Pequod to the surface of the ocean, the mast to the deck of the Pequod or Ahab's leg to the deck of the Pequod, etc. etc. The gradual perpendicular rise away from the horizontal plane is necessary for our survival. The whale took a different direction, but follows a path perpendicular to the surface of the sea-- sometimes we see his tail move down into the water, for example. We use this intersection of lines at right angles in our architecture and in our religion.

Chad

Just to add- we also see the whale jump out of the water, perpendicular to the ocean's surface. Melville is saying, in essence, that the whale is a like a civilization, which moves away from the interface or the horizon for its own survival. Forces, gravitational or otherwise, tend bring him right back the surface or the level-- forces which equalize I surmise. Maybe the whale would like to go to the moon- we don't really know. The crows nest on the Pequod was the perpendicular rise out of the water which we used for our own survival-- to spot the whales for harvest.

Message Edited by chad on 07-14-2007 02:49 PM
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food for thought

I use surface, interface, skin, atmosphere and death loosely. The words are somewhat deceptive--they refer to a point that is unknown. In other words there are different layers of each and it's difficult to find the exact point where one layer begins and ends, like the whale's skin. But there are different layers of skin and different phases of death. Some believe in an afterlife. So, in a sense,the words exist, but do not adequately define and in some ways prevent us from understanding how we are connected to our world and each other. So, I say as does Ahab, "Death, death to Moby Dick"- death to the his name and reputation formed by words, formed by language. It can literally be death to death itself, and hopefully form a new beginning to our understanding of the whale.

Chad
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inappropriate language

The literature of the times is about the misuse and abuse of language, and more specifically the use of language to control. Our language has evolved as we have. The North American continent and the western hemisphere have lanuages that originated here. on this land, and would be more appropriate to use than our own English language. Indeed, some early Americans found that the pristine wilderness spoke a language all of its own. Please be careful when telling each other that your use of language is inappropriate on this side of the pond. The most appropriate languages would be Native American- some of which have died with the tribes.

Chad
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whales with legs found in the egyptian desert

Maybe the whales built the pyramids. Also note that humans are described as pyramids throughout. The pyramid is symbolic of a civilization. We, as humans, are an amalgamation or a civilization of cells or atoms, if you will.

Chad
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skin and truth

[ Edited ]
We usually talk about uncovering or revealing the truth as if were hidden or lies somewhere beneath the surface or under our skin. "What are you thinking?" A bond or a connection that is true among people might be a blood pact where we each member of the pact pierces their skin. Melville, I believe, tells us that the truth sometime comes to the surface of our skin; at least, we try ascertain nature or character by skin's appearance (phrenology is mentioned I think)- our skin tells us something about ourselves. So, as any barrier or interface, skin both prevents from us reaching the truth or what is real, but we can connect with others with our skin through its sensation and appearance. Skin just came up in a conversation, I don't know, it all relates to Moby!

Chad

PS- So, the words and images which shaped Moby and some of the whales of the 1800's, and which appear on the surface of our skin were not necessarily "the truth." The truth was an iceberg creating its own hieroglyphics or the sun making its own marks on the sailor's skin.

Message Edited by chad on 07-26-2007 11:14 PM
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The truth continued

I was happy to pick up the "literature" of teh 1800's after a general feeling crept into my home, under my skin, that we are, in general, bull**bleep**. Indeed, most of the authors of this time frame wouldn't be surprised when you feel that way, for they write about the US becoming bull**bleep** shortly after its formation. Indeed, we could argue that Fennimore-Cooper felt that everything after the last Mohican would be. We are now left with a whale of a beaurocracy, searching for the truth with a language that was formed across the Atlantic- the truth could ultimately lie in Britain.


But the book ends with the "devious-cruising" Rachel picking up our now orphaned character, Ishmael. The whaling ships and industry, devious and deceiving, were picking up orphans, using language to control and command, not to enlighten. If the truth were to be found, it would not be in a language taught on board a whaling ship. It would not be found in the language of business.

Chad
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Bleep

I don't know if I should curse or applaud the bleep. Everyone thinks I should say everything I feel like.

Chad
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my boo boo and Ahab of course had a boo boo

[ Edited ]
Physiognomy is the study of the shape of the face; phrenology is the study of the shape of the brain. But the point is the same: attempts are made to discern the truth by finding some sign on the interface,or in other words, signs on the surface occasionally reveal the truth about ourselves. The two sciences merge in the whale, mystically however, and perhaps we have a very large friend that knows a little more about our world than we do....

Chad

PS- Its kind of confusing anyway- we are unable to discern connnections between the skull, the brain and the face, etc. Our language makes everything somewhat disjunctive. They would all be somewhat interrelated layers (of skin, if you will): everything seems to form and be formed by character. One example might be how we see a crucifixtion in Ahab's face.

Message Edited by chad on 07-27-2007 10:24 PM
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The sun is my tyrant

Saddam was a tyrant, but I say, "the sun is my tyrant." Moby is about the convergence of the individual and the masses. In othr words, I am both an individual, but I am also a collective, of cells, if you will. So, you could also think of the sun as a collective with one central tyrant commanding its rays to point at us with bayonets. Can we escape this tyrant? We'll have to wait and see...

Chad

PS- The war effort is taking some funding away from NASA, I think.
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convergence and divergence, might be the word

[ Edited ]
There are many examples in Moby of a mass becoming an inividual or a simgular entity. The crew is known as "The Peqoud" singularly. Ships take on charcateristics of individuals, although they are an assemblage of different crews. A whale, known as Moby Dick, is an assemblage of stories of sailors around the world. Individual whales are an assemblage of pods, acting as one entity, especailly when they beach themselves. The pods of whales unfurl a layer of parchment over the surface of the ocean with their tails as if the entire world were becoming more uniform, more united. Indeed, the tension in the story arises from the this phenomenon of a single individual attemptng to pull away from the mass or becoming absorbed by it. So, I say convergence but also divergence. This is the constant drama in the U.S. But these are petty concerns compared to the sun's hold on the planet earth....


Chad

Message Edited by chad on 07-29-2007 10:06 AM
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Ahab's maniacal leadership

[ Edited ]
The Pequod is a group of indivduals captained by Ahab. It's described as a singular entity with one mind- Ahab's. Could be an organism much like a whale. There is a hierarchy on board most ships and mutiny occurs when the will of crew contradicts or contravenes the will of the captain.

Whaling was at the peak of civilization in the 1800's- proabably the reverse of the mindset of the 1800's. Why? I think Melville did want to give the whaling community a different image to help answer the big question of why at all? And I think Melville beuatifully demonstrates how civilization used the whales to maintain and build our union after the revolutionary war. Civil war would come later, and is foreshadowed in the story.

So, in sense, the Pequod and other whaling ships of the world (although our story is about the Pequod's voyage, in particular), are at the tip of the pyramid or the eye of the pyramid found on the back of the dollar bill, looking for whales to help maintain its integrity or its structure, or to begin a new foundation. I think I aleady mentioned that we reach a peak only to find another interface, or a new foundation. Someone at the top of a company finds himself at the top, but may find a new plateau to build upon. He's simultaneoulsy at the top and bottom, trying to find new way to ensure the survival of the entity formed. This is a complicated concept of Moby. Perhaps, a CEO may explain it. Or, I think Melville has the characters onboard ship lose direction, the ship moves forwards while facing backwards, etc. Indeed, we find our heroes in an interface twixt' sea and sky.

Ahab, in any case, is maniacal. So what? How many leaders throughout world history, including our own US history, have been deemed to be that? Is this a common denominator of leaders, or do we feel they're just normal people? Can they be true men of the people? Remember that Ahab's struggle was between his own fight with Moby and the will of the voyage, or society, perhaps best embodied in the character of Starbuck.

Melville's characters are memorable, aren't they?

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 07-31-2007 11:42 AM
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Your lit professor

"So, in sense, the Pequod and other whaling ships of the world (although our story is about the Pequod's voyage, in particular), are at the tip of the pyramid or the eye of the pyramid found on the back of the dollar bill, looking for whales to help maintain its integrity or its structure, or to begin a new foundation. I think I aleady mentioned that we reach a peak..."

I write this stuff quickly, but I'll just have to become your lit professor, this is just the most interesting culture!

But the pyramid represents civilization, and at the top of the pyramid we find its apex or eye. Melville mentions that the tops of the pyramids were used for astronomoical purposes by ancient egyptians. This focus can take the form of monomania. Some modern examples of monomania may be the focus of regimes found in the middle east- Saddam's focus on the US or vice versa. But the point is that civilizations build to a height to "see" for survival, like the human.

Chad
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Re: Your lit professor

How monomania forms? I'm not sure Bilianna. I think it has something to with language forming a large entity of some kind, which acts in unison and can focus on some common goal or enemy. We would want to watch the amalgamation of languages or the laguages of business, in particular. Remember the glossary of Moby- the crew probably almost spoke another language, if at all- they were part of Ahab's mind.

Chad
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More me

Some people just said, "We want to know Chad!" Well, believe it or not, in order to know myself I had to read some of these great classics. But they only reconfirmed my opinion that what was truly American was what was here before the first settlers arrived. Society was always classified "American", but it could never be. So, throughout my life, I always went for hikes with my dog into some of the local wildernesses of the mid-atlantic, escaping a frenetic, nervous and schizophrenic people who called themselves "Americans", and found myself to be more so. There, I have revealed something about myself, how about everyone else?

Yours truly,
Chad
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I am full of myself: more thoughts on the civil war!

The foreshadowing of the civil war is interesting. The whales were killed and turned into machines, and the industrial might of the North grew large enough to swallow a southern whale. Slavery? It was the issue of the civil war, but not really an issue onboard the Pequod.

Chad
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