Monday, 26 October 2015

The Moby Dick Read-a-long - Week Two - My Thoughts


So this week was infinitely less fun than last week. I did struggle quite a bit, particularly as the story didn't seem to be moving on a whole lot. We had more 'let's talk about the symbolism of the colour white,' and less 'ARRR, don't get on derr boat, matey!'

That happened, right? I feel like that happened.

My favourite part this week was where Melville suddenly got really defensive about whaling for no apparent reason. 'So there we were sailing along... WAIT, you know whaling is like... really HARD, right? And it's totally dangerous, but absolutely FINE to do it!?' Oh-kay...

I genuinely think next week will be better. We've got to start seeing some whales soon!

1) We've met Captain Ahab now. What do you think of him? Did he meet your expectations? Who would you cast to play him in a movie?
 
He's more or less exactly what I expected. Equal parts crazy and revenge hungry. I have an image in my mind but I can't think who I'd get to play him. Sort of like a darker-haired, shorter Geoffrey Rush, maybe.
 
I feel sort of bad for him, though. He knows he's being crazy and unreasonable, and that eventually the crew are going to realise, but he just can't help himself. I'd probably go a little mental if a whale bit my leg off too.
 
I am a little confused as to how exactly a whale could manage that though... 
 
2) Some chapters seem to focus on action and attempt to move the story along, whilst others seem to ponder the concept of a whaling and life. Do you find one type easier to follow than the other?
 
 
At one point I realised that my eyes were making the correct horizontal motion, but I was actually musing on whether or not I could fit inside a whale's eyeball. Answer: probably not, but it would be close.
 
As I was saying to Charlotte earlier, I actually really like the story-related chapters. Locating a whaling boat, learning about Captain Ahab, sailing through the storm... yup, I'm totally on board. 
 
Long stretches of rambling about colours, philosophy and the Bible? Well... I could survive without them, let's just say that. 
 
3) Keeping in mind everything we've learned about whaling this week, has it changed your views on it at all?
 
Yes and no. Whilst I still hold (and will always hold) the view that whaling is abhorrent and the few dead whale photos that I've stumbled across this week make me feel horrensously ill, I have to admit I didn't realise how dangerous it was. Then again, when you antagonise a 180 tonne animal, what do you expect?
 
Whaling bad.
 
4) Why do you think Herman Melville suddenly branches off into lectures about how acceptable/difficult/clean whaling is? 
 
I'm not sure, but I don't actually mind these chapters. While I still find whaling morally repugnant, I am slightly interested in how they went about it. Three year journeys for which they didn't technically get paid and apparently lost a limb every so often? Tell me more.
 
It's odd though, it's like people kept coming up to him and lecturing him about it, so he just shoved his defensive rants into his manuscript. "No, really, it's FIIIINE!" 
 
5) Do the scientific misconceptions bother you at all? i.e. that whales are fishes etc.
A surpisingly large amount, yes. Honestly Past Hanna, it's like you knew exactly what I was thinking!
It may just be because when I was little, I was supremely proud of the fact that I knew whales were mammals and not fish. It may also be that Melville's lecturing 'I know more about those big whale-y fish than you do!' tone is a little grating, but hey ho.

Whales are not fish. He even acknowledges that they're warm-blooded, but nooooooo.

7 comments:

  1. "I am a little confused as to how exactly a whale could manage that though... "

    ... Right enough. What, was he trying to kick it in the face?!

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    1. Every time I read this I start laughing again.

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  2. "...infinitely less fun" really sums it up! Every single time I thought we were getting back to the story, it got interrupted by another dreary lecture! I have shouted out "Please STOP" more than once while reading.

    The whale-consuming-leg conundrum is a puzzler. Especially seeing as the description was something really vague like "And then the whale swiped his misshapen jaw" and somehow Ahab's leg is gone. A whole chapter about different types of whale and we get one line about a dismembering?! Cheers, Melville.

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    1. Oh, I know. Apparently I was making little claw motions with my hands when I was reading it last weekend. Clearly this book just sends you crazy.

      EXACTLY. Why was his leg in the water? Why does he think whales have teeth? Why would a whale want your leg? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

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  3. Yes! My eyes also did the horizontal motion thing on several occasions this week, some chapters just went on for so. damn. long. Urgh. On the bright side, week three's reading is infinitely better. Way more whales, way less encyclopaedia/stuff about the colour white (I think I blocked out that part as I remember it being a thing but absolutely nothing about it).

    I thought Geoffrey Rush too. Actually I originally thought Gregory Peck but then discarded him because he's too Atticus and Roman Holiday (by which I think I mean too gentlemanly and not mad enough?) but then I discovered there's apparently a film where he plays Ahab, so that's...cool? I'm not sure. Maybe we should have a group watch of this film :-p

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    1. I don't think I even TRIED to read the chapter about the colour white. I think I skimmed every page to see if it was STILL going on (the answer was pretty much always yes), but that's it.

      Oh, we should! The complete movie is on youtube, we could all watch it simultaneously!

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    2. Yes,we should definitely do this!!

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