9 December 2016

Moby Dick Book Club: Week 6


This is the first week I've like, brutally hated the chapters. I felt like they pretty much all dragged on and were irrelevant to the plot (I may skipped some, sorry Meg). 

The few things I did note:

  • Does anyone know why the Cape of Good Hope is familiar to me? I looked it up and its in Africa, was there a DiCaprio movie set there or perhaps another Cape of Good Hope somewhere?
  • What is going on with the Town-Ho? I had a footnote saying it was a chant, I got the impression it was a hooker they met, and then the book made it seem like it was the name of the boat they were talking about but I really couldn't keep it straight?
  • All of the chapters about whale art were complete bores if you ask me but here is a photo for those without photos of the piece he's describing throughout chapter 55...

  • I did like the passages about how whale skeletons have no reflection of their true shape. I always feel smarter when I learn facts about animals, it's my favourite fact repertoire when I'm looking to annoy anyone. 
  • I also didn't fully hate chapter 58 because they did a lot of personification of the sea. I liked the connections Ishmael made to the sea with its dark creatures below the surface and the docile land, and then connecting that to humans and how we have that inner contrast in each of us as well. I think it's a cool way to look at things.
  • One of my favourite passages is from the very last bit of this section: "Again: as the profound calm which only apparently precedes and prophesies of the storm, is perhaps more awful than the storm itself; for, indeed, the calm is but the wrapper and envelope of the storm..." I think this says a lot about anticipation, and how anticipating fear is often worse than the fear itself. I tell everyone I don't care how I die just so long as I'm not scared. I would be going absolutely ape shit on that boat knowing that it was only a matter of time before we found what Ahab was looking for and I had to fight a whale that ate a man's leg (along with a lot of other tales of what Moby Dick has done). 
I sincerely hope we get back to some plot soon because I can't take 5 more chapters about the progression of whale art...


I am in hell. I wish I was dead. 

I can barely even remember what I have read a mere 20 minutes after putting the book down. This will definitely be the shortest of all Moby Dick write ups... I just could barely find anything to talk about in this section.

For one, I thought this section at least mentions about the overall length of whaling voyages.. These trips usually take YEARS. Whalers get married and conceive a kid and then take off for three years ... I know I would 1) never be in this profession, but also 2) would never ever marry one. Even when I watch Apollo 13 I think it's absurd that anyone would get married to someone who would be away for at least 12 months in a row. 

I like when whatever his name is says when there is a gale on the horizon, "Then captain and crew become practical fatalists." I just feel like maybe that is how we are all feeling while reading this book? Stefan said to me today (just incase you were wondering how book club in New Brunswick is  going), "I have to wake up at 4 a.m. to go to work, and then I bus back home. And I'm supposed to read Moby Dick?!"

I also liked this passage in Chapter 52: "'Swim away from me, do ye?' murmured Ahab, gazing over into the water. There seemed but little in the words, but the tone conveyed more of deep helpless sadness than the insane old man had ever before evinced." This is the stuff I actually really enjoy while reading Moby Dick ... But I suppose that's like really enjoying a flu shot. The obsession stuff is my faaaaaaavourite. 
Chapter 54 was actually pure hell for me. I am scared that this book is going to make me give up my passion in life (i.e. reading). 

Although gotta say, I did love the name for Chapter 56 "Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Picture of Whaling Scenes."

Sorry that this is such short post with absolutely zero to offer but I just found this last set of chapters to be by far the worst..


  1. Meagan, thanks for the whale pic, love it!! I think the Town-Ho is a chant.

    Meghan, I didn’t realize just how long the trips were either until they described it so much in this section. I couldn’t never be or be with a whaler either, no time for that. And I agree ch.54 was so brutal… same with 55, 56 and 57. Urghhhhh

    Here are some moments I enjoyed;
    The irony in Ishmael’s observation about Ahab at the beginning of Ch. 51; “And had you watched Ahab's face that night you would have thought that in him also two different things were warring. While his one live leg made lively echoes along the deck, every stroke of his dead limb sounded like a coffin-tap" p.254

    I enjoyed learning about the tradition of the 'gam' and how it differs from all other type of ship encounters. I like Ishmael’s recommendation that we do not look it up on our own as we will wear out our fingers searching through dictionaries.

    What I loved most from this section was the last paragraph of chapter 58 (Glad you liked this too Meagan!) When he compares life to sea vs life at land. He talks of life at sea as “the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on an eternal war since the world begun", compared with land on earth “green, gentle and most docile earth; consider them both the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”. He makes a statement about them both, ting them both together and connecting them to the human condition itself, “ For as this appalling ocean surround the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. God Keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”. I just loved that last line so much. So true to this story and the contrast of life at sea vs life on land, but also rings so true and deep to all of us as humans and our journeys through life. I had a great aha moment as Oprah would say.

    1. Becca I can't believe you had this much to write about this awful fucking section. I also hate Oprah but I know what you meannnnnn about this. I also giggle a little when Ishmael makes recommendations to the readers because I am so confused about him as a narrator... is he writing the book?

    2. I honestly didn't like this section, but it wasn't the worst for me. I think the third week was the hardest for me.

      The narration is hilarious, and I love his comments directly to the reader, they're so short and witty I feel like we really connect. Do you ever read books and think, "I want to tattoo that to my body"? That's how I felt!!(Re: "Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!"). Then I talk myself out of it.

      ALSO, we're half way through. Lets pick the next one.

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