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Moby Dick

Pizzabeak

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Peer pressure being ignored plus irrelevant, “review coming soon”. No irony or anything else, I’m writing a book finished soon that you have to pay for. Moby Dick is a huge part of it, and it’ll mostly be in there. Or, I’ll just type the rest here for free plus incite discussion. I’d expect it wouldn’t be too dissimilar from any turn out in the past.

It’s much more than: “Melville was born in New York, 1819. Moby Dick or, the Whale wasn't his first book, and he was already married with a family by the time he started writing this.

This is your typical book where you might re-evaluate your reasons for reading it, or taking time out your day to read in general, so you'll question whether you're even using the time to use the right thing, irrespective of speed reading, or knowing everything. I had to pause multiple times to look up locations on a map, which got annoying after some time. However, it helped me blossom as a person in the long run.

All you really need to know, is there's a black character on deck (hometown: Tolland County, Connecticut) also a part of the crew journeying the hunt for the white whale (Moby Dick), named Pippin, or Pip for short, in which, Jack Kerouac's final story "Pic" could be reference, which is like On the Road except in France, with a black kid and his brother as the main characters. Pip falls overboard, twice, and has a near death experience, or witnesses an Other. Stubb and the other crewmen have to sacrifice capturing a whale in order to rescue him:
<blockquote>"By the merest chance the ship itself at last rescued him; but from that hour the little negro went about the deck an idiot; such, at least, they said he was. The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God."</blockquote>
It's been said Moby Dick depicts poetry and philosophy in a subject that usually doesn't touch it (i.e., the whale). Pip's experience described in that paragraph is like Plato's Cave, as far as trying to reason out someone's motivation for wanting to hunt the rare white sperm whale itself. Some would say Ahab is mad, blind with rage in the first place, claiming Moby to be the devil or evil incarnate, so that he must be killed. Views on whaling were different then, in that industry, so they weren't considered endangered, and were still valuable for their oils and parmacetti. In the next chapter Ishmael has his own experience that borders on transcendence or depersonalization. He's up at night and all day long squeezing the whale sperm, in that isolated environment, lingering on the edges of daydreaming and phantasmagoria. Hypnagogia induced by near sleep deprivation:
<blockquote>"Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever! For now, since by many prolonged, repeated experiences, I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity; not placing it anywhere in the intellect or the fancy; but in the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the saddle, the fireside, the country; now that I have perceived all this, I am ready to squeeze case eternally. In thoughts of the visions of the night, I saw long rows of angels in paradise, each with his hands in a jar of spermaceti."</blockquote>
Ishamel is a biblical name from Genesis, being the son of Abraham and a slave, Hagar. Sarah, Abraham's wife, banished son and mother into the wilderness. There are many theological themes in this book (in addition to philosophy and poetry) as well, such as Jonah and the Whale. It has some of the best closing remarks I've gotten out of fiction in a long time, that I know of and can recall:
<blockquote>"and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it."</blockquote>
Spoiler alert. Some people are familiar with the ending and know that they all die, besides Ishmael who is thrown overboard before the final encounter with the whale, and misses the event.
<blockquote>"Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."</blockquote>
He is rescued by the Rachel, who was searching for its (her) own shipwrecked survivors, likened to Job, "And I only am escaped alone to tell thee."

I borrowed this from the library and ran out of time, unable to renew it, so I had to rent another edition and couldn't finish my reading of the Penguin I found. I finished it out using one that had chapter intros partially illustrated. I'd buy my own copy for later reference and use, and am quite excited to delve into his other works.”

Which is to just say “the opposite” or what someone didn’t say yet for either a lack of time or a paywall. I know most people haven’t read it, or did in high school and we’re required to write a paper about it so don’t talk about it nor want to, whether it’s pointless or not. At that point people seek other people out to get their perspective instead, presuming they not only did everything you did and/or plus or minus more just to get your perspective, or just plain didn’t and were different altogether meaning by logic your viewpoint is wanted or allowed for some reason, for want of some reputation or more money possibly. Thoughts?
 

The Grey Man

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There is evidence that Melville was inspired by that English polymath of the 17th century, Thomas Browne, a man of immense learning and even greater curiosity who was interested in everything from mineralogy to botany to zoology to history and geography to medicine to philology to astronomy and philosophy to theology and Biblical scholarship.

Browne favoured "ocular Observation" when it came to the study of natural phenomena, and was an early exponent of Bacon's inductive method. His influential and oft-revised 1646 work Pseudodoxica Epidemica was his effort to rectify common misconceptions about the natural world on the grounds of empirical research. One of the chapters of this book, added in the third edition, is "Of Sperma-Ceti; and the Sperma-Ceti Whale." The following sentence from it was prefixed to Moby-Dick:

Browne said:
What Sperma-Ceti is, men might justly doubt, since the learned Hofmannus in his work of Thirty years, saith plainly, Nescio quid sit ["I do not know what it is"].
Browne goes on to describe a 60-foot-long sperm whale that had washed up dead on the beaches of Norfolk, near his home in Norwich, as a "Leviathan" whose eyes were "but small." This report must have stimulated Melville's imagination.

Besides his naturalistic studies, Melville was probably also influenced by Browne's sublime blend of Platonism* and Christianity. He is said to have regarded Browne as a kind of "crack'd Archangel," which parallels his description of Ahab as a "bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks." This attribution of divine qualities to mere mortals might be explained from the fact that, for Browne as for Schopenhauer and, indeed, virtually all Platonists, individuation, both of different times and different places, is an illusion. It is possible that Melville's beliefs regarding time and space were similar to those expressed by Browne in his remarkable work Religio Medici ("The Religion of a Physician").

Browne said:
Time we may comprehend, 'tis but but five days elder than our selves, and hath the same Horoscope with the world; but to retire so farre back as to apprehend a beginning, to give such an infinite start forward, as to conceive an end in an essence that we affirme hath neither the one nor the other; it puts my reason to Saint Pauls Sanctuary; my Philosophy dares not say that the Angells can do it; God hath not made a creature that can comprehend him, 'tis the privilege of his own nature; I am that I am, was his own definition unto Moses; and 'twas a short one, to confound mortalitie, that durst question God, or aske him what hee was; indeed he only is. all others have and shall be, but in eternity there is no distinction of Tenses; and therefore that terrible terme Predestination, which hath troubled so many weake heads to conceive, and the wisest to explain, is in respect to God no prescious determination of our estates to come, but a definitive blast of his will already fulfilled, and at the instant that he first decreed it; for to his eternitie which is indivisible, and altogether, the last Trumpe is already sounded, the reprobates in the flame, and the blessed in Abrahams bosome. Saint Peter speakes modestly, when he saith, a thousand years to God are but as one day: for to speak like a Philosopher, those continued instances of time which flow into thousand yeares, make not to him one moment; what to us is to come, to his Eternitie is present, his whole duration being but one permanent point without succession, parts, flux, or division.

Browne said:
Before Abraham was, I am, is the saying of Christ, yet is it true in some sense if I say it of my selfe, for I was not onely before my selfe, but Adam, that is, in the Idea of God, and the decree of that Synod held from all Eternity. And in this sense, I say, the world was before the Creation, and at an end before it had a beginning; and thus I was dead before I was alive, though my grave be England, my dying place was Paradise, and Eve miscarried of mee before she conceiv'd of Cain.

I, too, believe that this world was uttered, as it were, in a single syllable, is one "definitive blast." Time is, as Einstein put it, a "persistent illusion."

Anyway, I can certainly see why Melville was impressed, as Browne is my favourite English prose writer of all time. I love the way he writes about real, concrete things with a sense of humour, never losing sight of the transcendental whole; and his agile, sometimes dizzying way of extending and broadening the meanings of his sentences, with varied punctuation and exotic diction, is delightful.

* Browne thought himself to be a follower of Hermes Trismestigus, a predecessor of Plato who passed the one true religion on to future generations, but present-day scholarship understands Trismestigus to have lived sometime after Christ.
 
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