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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Moby Dick, chapter 42 "The Whiteness of the Whale"

I can't write about this chapter, because I have too many questions. 
What do you make of the whiteness of the whale? 
Do you think the white whale is more terrifying? (Personally I think so- have you seen any photos?)
What do you think about Ishmael's ideas about the awfulness of the colour white? 
Why does Ishmael write about the terror caused by the colour white, 2 chapters after the conversation "... look yonder, boys, there's another in the sky—lurid-like, ye see, all else pitch black." "What of that? Who's afraid of black's afraid of me! I'm quarried out of it!" "[...] Aye, harpooneer, thy race is the undeniable dark side of mankind—devilish dark at that. No offence."?
What is the meaning, and significance, of this chapter? How does it fit into the whole thing? Is it meant to be juxtaposed with "Cetology"- scientific facts aren't enough for understanding the whale, and can't account for the fright it evokes in Ishmael and other men? Or? 


7 comments:

  1. One answer - which is probably not very helpful - is that we see here the result of Melville's discovery that he can take anything and make art out of it. Any big concept - pick one and start spinning the metaphors.

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    1. All right. *thinking*
      Which big concept seems most "plausible" to you, then, personally?

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    2. No "most." "White" is a concept - start imagining metaphors. "Whale" is a concept. Now combine them - wow, look how rich this is.

      I am really talking more about Melville's creativity than his ideas. I am never much help with actual ideas.

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  2. The difference of Otherness might be significant. When we are confronted by Otherness (difference), we must carefully consider our reactions, especially when we are not part of that Otherness. This might be a useful approach.

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    Replies
    1. Could you elaborate?

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    2. Consider . . .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other

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