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Ahab to Mr. Starbuck in "MobyDick"

 
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 06:34 pm
@Pythagorean,
I do the re-reading as well, not because of bad habits but because some things are so good that I can't help it.

Books I've read three times:
The Brothers Karamazov
Notes from Underground
Gravity's Rainbow
Cat's Cradle
Death and the Dervish (by Mesa Selimovic -- if you like Dostoyevsky you'll love this)

Books I will have read at least three times at some point:
Crime and Punishment
War and Peace
Ulysses
The Sea of Fertility (a four book tetralogy by Yukio Mishima, also much like Dostoyevsky)
One Hundred Years of Solitude
The Death of Virgil (by Broch)

Since finding Librivox.org, I've 'read' The Count of Monte Cristo, Moby Dick, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass in about 6 weeks, and I'm 1/3 of the way done with A Tale of Two Cities. Not a bad month.

(Sorry Pyth, we've gone way off your thread, feel free to rescue it)
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 06:51 pm
@Aedes,
I also do re-readings for the quality of the work. I gave Notes and Hesse's Siddhartha two readings thus far, Thompson's Las Vegas and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises at least three times, and I'm going through Don Quixote a second time because it's just so dammed funny.

You're a big Pynchon fan? I just read his short story Entropy yesterday. Tough to get a handle on his work; I feel like I understood about a third of the story, though I enjoyed the read. Which is strange, I guess. I'm sure I'll go over it again soon.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:12 pm
@Pythagorean,
I've only read Don Quijote once -- in Spanish. That was not easy. I was a senior in high school. If I read it again I'll probably do it in Spanish again, which would be a chore but I could do it.

I LOVE Pynchon. Gravity's Rainbow is a work of just unmatched brilliance. It's hilarious, erudite, and he's got one of these minds that the rest of us can't even comprehend. There is a companion book by Steven Weisenberger that explains a lot of his references (if you don't have a basic knowledge of organic chemistry, pavlovian psychology, ballistic physics, WWII intelligence agencies, English candies, etc etc etc you'll be glad you have the companion book).

I'm planning on reading Mason and Dixon later this year. I read the first couple hundred pages, loved it, but just didn't have time to finish it. On my paper reading list, by the end of the year I need to reread Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) so I can read its sequel (World Without End), and I plan to read Mason and Dixon and Anna Karenina. Think I can handle all that by 12/31.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:24 pm
@Aedes,
In Spanish? That is something. Translations have always bothered me in literature. The reader has to depend so much upon the translator.

From reading that short story, I gathered that Pynchon was one of those wildly brilliant cats. I've had a mind to try Gravity's Rainbow for some time after hearing and reading so many praises. I'll definitely get that companion to the text; after read the short story, I'm sure I'll need it.

I'm sure you can get through that list - considering you finished Karamazov in a day (if I recall correctly). I'm gonna try and get through Don Quixote, re-read Zarathustra and Armstrong's biography of the Buddha. I may give Madame Bovary a read, or Racine's Phaedra. If I keep my current pace, I will have finished quite a bit by the end of the year. I spend a good deal of my reading time covering the short stories from my Lit textbooks that we did not cover in class, which tends to be roughly 90% of the textbook.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:27 pm
@Pythagorean,
Madame Bovary is on Librivox, I'll get to that one down the line.

One winter vacation when I was in high school I decided to read Shakespeare's complete works. Not all of them, but I ended up reading all of his tragedies and a bunch of comedies. Now that I'm literally twice the age I was then, it would be a good thing to try again.
William
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:42 pm
@Pythagorean,
Dt, that was not my point. Sorry, if I alluded those being favorites because I have never read neither. The point I was making was "how" they mentally were able to focus in writing such great (large) narratives. This ability to write such in depth books for most there was no collaboration. It is the work of one person's mind; good, bad or indifferent. I do not judge a book by popular consensus. I try to relate to what the author was trying to relate. All of our thoughts are manifested through our communiction efforts whatever those communications may be.

Now you, on several occasions have forwarded your opinion as to your thoughts as it relates to certain people whom you hold in disdain such as L. Ron Hubbard and of late Ayn Rand. I don't do that. You have your reasons base on your perceptions and are fully entitled to do that. I cannot base my perception on yours because I am not you, likewise you are not me. I read a lot of "controversial" material as do I read the popular stuff, also. I "need' to do that. One truth, at least to me anyway, is the statement "history is written by those who hanged heroes" and it is because of that I read what motivated the "hangings" and , if I am lucky, the victims side of the story. I will not be deterred by anothers opinion to read one or the other.

You made the statement once that Hubbard was only in it for the money. Name me popular religion that isn't to some degree? I have read dianetics relating to the engram, and what is is to be "clear" and frankly though I do not understand it, some of it made sense and I store it. It could be just one sentence that I gather a truth from; so be it. Then it was worth reading as the word clear relates to gaining peace of mind and I am all for that and reading that may have been instrumental in my understanding of what "peace of mind" truly means. The auditor, as in the preacher, serve the same purpose in easing that mind, though both have different methods. Hubbards was by using a "bio-feedback" approach, where as, in many cases some preachers use sin and guilt.and redemption. Not all but some.

When i watch a movie, I don't do so to be entertained, though if it does entertain me, I am grateful; I observe it to gather what was on the mind of the producer and why he wanted to "air" it. Or as in the Author, why he wrote it trying to inch my way into their individual perceptions. I have not read Atlas Shrugged but have an idea of what it is about and can't read Canterbury Tales because I don't know how; I don't communicate in such language nor will I try. Just like trying to interpret Revelation. I am not into esoteria that is meant to be esoteric. Not in the least.

Please forgive my rambling on so; I only do it so you will better understand a little more about me as to my perceptions and how I gather them as I wish to know more about you and how you gather that which forms your perceptions. To me that really enables us to "simplify matters" for both.

No offense and you are not disparaging my tastes. I will not allow that to happen. I will "see for myself" as it has been my entire life, and will form my own opinion based on what I have experienced. That's all I can do. Thank you for your contribution and hopefully we can better communicate with each other as a result of this conversation. That's what it all about to begin with, IMO. Smile

William
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:46 pm
@Aedes,
Yeah, I am in desperate need of more Shakespeare. I've only read the standards you can't get out of high school without reading, MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet and a few sonnets.

That librivox thing seems cool, but I have a practical aversion to books on tape. Reading, it seems to me, improves the attention span while watching television destroys the attention span. Looking back on all of the hours I've spent staring into the boob tube, I figure I'd better stick to physical pages for now. Besides, I'm also big into music, so I'm reluctant to trade tunes in the car for books in the car. Vocabulary is another issue for me. As I read, I compile lists of unfamiliar words or words who's meanings I'm uncertain about so that I can study them. That damn Tom Wolfe novel, A Bonfire of Vanities, introduced about a hundred new ones to me.... ugh. Brilliant book, though.

Heh, we really have diverged from the topic. Maybe we need a thread for this sort of thing.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:50 pm
@Pythagorean,
I doubt he meant to invalidate you by saying it, William, though it was a bit blunt.

I can tell you that Titanic was one of the worst movie-going experiences of my life, and I have difficulty restraining my loathing for that movie whenever it comes up -- but I've learned to check myself, because there are a lot of otherwise admirable people who for reasons I don't understand really liked that movie.

Let's not make a big deal out of this.

Smile
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 07:58 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
William;74684 wrote:
Dt, that was not my point. Sorry, if I alluded those being favorites because I have never read neither. The point I was making was "how" they mentally were able to focus in writing such great (large) narratives. This ability to write such in depth books for most there was no collaboration. It is the work of one person's mind; good, bad or indifferent. I do not judge a book by popular consensus. I try to relate to what the author was trying to relate. All of our thoughts are manifested through our communiction efforts whatever those communications may be.


I can dig that. I do not often malign what I am not familiar with; I've read most of what Rand wrote, and criticize her from my familiarity.

William;74684 wrote:
Now you, on several occasions have forwarded your opinion as to your thoughts as it relates to certain people whom you hold in disdain such as L. Ron Hubbard and of late Ayn Rand. I don't do that.


It's literary criticism. I'm certainly not adept at literary criticism, but I am also unafraid to voice my view.

William;74684 wrote:
You have your reasons base on your perceptions and are fully entitled to do that. I cannot base my perception on yours because I am not you, likewise you are not me.


I agree. You cannot know something until you find out for yourself; you will never know that Rand is awful unless you read Rand. The only reason I suggest people refrain from reading her at all is that there exist such a great diversity of material that one could read instead of Rand - a great diversity of material that is almost universally accepted as brilliant literature.

William;74684 wrote:
I will not be deterred by anothers opinion to read one or the other.


I dig it.

William;74684 wrote:
You made the statement once that Hubbard was only in it for the money. Name me popular religion that isn't to some degree?


L. Ron Hubbard is not a popular religion. Did the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Confucius, Aristotle, Socrates, Plotinus, Paul, Moses, ect teach for the money? Not that I recall.

William;74684 wrote:
I have read dianetics relating to the engram, and what is is to be "clear" and frankly though I do not understand it, some of it made sense and I store it. It could be just one sentence that I gather a truth from; so be it. Then it was worth reading as the word clear relates to gaining peace of mind and I am all for that and reading that may have been instrumental in my understanding of what "peace of mind" truly means. The auditor, as in the preacher, serve the same purpose in easing that mind, though both have different methods. Hubbards was by using a "bio-feedback" approach, where as, in many cases some preachers use sin and guilt.and redemption. Not all but some.


I've not read Hubbard. However, having heard a few scholars (PhDs in literature) talk about him, people who I came to know personally and respect immensely, it became clear to me that the man's work is unabashadly racist - and I don't take these people to be liars.

William;74684 wrote:
I have not read Atlas Shrugged but have an idea of what it is about and can't read Canterbury Tales because I don't know how; I don't communicate in such language nor will I try. Just like trying to interpret Revelation. I am not into esoteria that is meant to be esoteric. Not in the least.


Hey, read what interests you. But, as a quick note, interpreting Revelations is no different than interpreting works in the way you explain: try to comprehend the author's meaning. Literature, that's any good, relies on figurative language, just like spiritual literature.

William;74684 wrote:
Please forgive my rambling on so; I only do it so you will better understand a little more about me as to my perceptions and how I gather them as I wish to know more about you and how you gather that which forms your perceptions. To me that really enables us to "simplify matters" for both.


No, I appreciate it. Thank you.

William;74684 wrote:
No offense and you are not disparaging my tastes. I will not allow that to happen. I will "see for myself" as it has been my entire life, and will form my own opinion based on what I have experienced. That's all I can do. Thank you for your contribution and hopefully we can better communicate with each other as a result of this conversation. That's what it all about to begin with, IMO. Smile

William


Word.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 08:15 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;74685 wrote:
I've only read the standards you can't get out of high school without reading, MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet and a few sonnets.
Reread MacBeth, Hamlet, and pick up King Lear and Othello. All brilliant. Romeo and Juliet is not a 'true' tragedy -- it's a comedy that has a tragic ending (remember that the "new" comedy, i.e. the romantic comedy, is a template of a couple that overcomes some daunting obstacle to end up together -- that's all Romeo and Juliet are except that they croak in the end instead). His 'mature' comedies, like Twelfth Night and Midsummer Night's Dream are great. His early comedies like Comedy of Errors and Love's Labours Lost are slapstick and funny, and a bit raunchy. 'The Tempest' just confuses me.

Didymos Thomas;74685 wrote:
That librivox thing seems cool, but I have a practical aversion to books on tape. Reading, it seems to me, improves the attention span while watching television destroys the attention span.
I thought so as well, I'm not a great auditory learner, but it works well enough. And I'd have never been going through this many novels without it. I spend 2 hours a day in the car, and in my off weeks a couple hours either at the gym or sweating it out in the garden, so the iPod is a great venue for me. And a well-read audiobook can be even better. Through the Looking Glass was perfectly read.

I've incorporated a lot of words I now use commonly, like vicissitudes, evince, disabuse, cupidity, vitiate, that I'd otherwise not have thought of.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 08:23 pm
@Aedes,
Yeah, I was not terribly fond of Romeo and Juliet; well, that's probably not fair: it just did not measure up to brilliance MacBeth and Hamlet. Or maybe this opinion is simply the result of me reading those two a little later.

As for Librivox, I see where you're coming from. That's a heck of a commute.

I'm trying to grow my vocabulary, making a conscious effort, anyway. It's not always easy, though. Not long ago I used the word "vicariously", in the common phrase 'to live vicariously through', in the company of a friend. "What's that mean?" Man, that made me sad. It's that much harder to learn new words when you have little or no opportunity to use them.
0 Replies
 
Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:16 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;74692 wrote:
'The Tempest' just confuses me.

Simple - unjustly exiled prince revenges self on former family and friends but is prevented from going too far by the loving example of his daughter - but with wizards.

Pertaining to Moby's paleness - I always wondered if there was a link with white elephants. This is insofar as they are a gift that is too expensive to keep, such as Ahab's desire for revenge, which looks set to ruin the expedition financially even if things go well, and actually ends up killing them all (except Ishmael).

My own favourite episode of Moby Dick is the chapter on Cetology, in which Ishmael claims that the opinion that whales are mammals is patent nonsense and that the Blue Whale is nothing but a fable.

B S Johnson is my favourite author for new words. In his top book Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry (about a man who realises that, on opening an account with life itself, he is owed millions of pounds) there is even a duel of dictionary words between two antagonists, involving such things as:

"Wagner remarked on the section chief's helminthoid tendancies, which was unfair because it was true. The section chief barked back with the only word he could think of, cryptorchid, even though he had no way of checking."

Lots of threats to defenestrate people, or subject them to a rapid process of trituration.
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 10:18 am
@Pythagorean,
Paul, off the topic a bit; when you finish "Les Miserables", please bring us your perspective.

William
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2009 01:27 pm
@William,
William;77033 wrote:
Paul, off the topic a bit; when you finish "Les Miserables", please bring us your perspective.
Will do, though it will be a little while before I get to it. I've been on a Dickens kick lately, I've read A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist in the last couple weeks, and I'm reading David Copperfield right now. (A Tale of Two Cities has some stunning moments, but it's overall sort of a disappointment; Oliver Twist is sheer brilliance).

I'm also at the same time reading the Complete Works of Shakespeare (I'd read around 12 of his plays before, but now I'm going to do all of them, including the ones I'd already read -- I've just read Richard II, Henry IV pt 1, Henry IV pt 2, and now onto Henry V). I'm going to try and finish all 10 of his Histories (the 8 "wars of the roses" plays, plus King John and Henry VIII) within the next couple weeks, then take a break. In a year's time I intend to have read the Complete Works of Shakespeare and (if I don't get sick of him) all of Charles Dickens' novels and short stories. Should be doable. After David Copperfield I may turn to Bleak House, but if not I can pick up Les Miserables.


Dave Allen;76968 wrote:
Simple - unjustly exiled prince revenges self on former family and friends but is prevented from going too far by the loving example of his daughter - but with wizards.
The plot is simple, but I've always found the emotional thrust to be inconsistent, and it's sort of strangely fantastical. But I'm on a Shakespeare kick right now, I've read the Tempest a couple times and seen it performed but not in a number of years. Maybe I'll get into it more. Nothing beats Hamlet or King Lear in my mind, just impossible.

Dave Allen;76968 wrote:
My own favourite episode of Moby Dick is the chapter on Cetology, in which Ishmael claims that the opinion that whales are mammals is patent nonsense and that the Blue Whale is nothing but a fable.
Apparently Ishmael's cetology was out of date even for the time the book was written (I mean he himself dismisses the taxonomic significance of Linnaeus' classification, based on the fact that whales like other mammals have lungs, a uterus, and warm blood). But no matter, I think the point of that chapter (and all the other digressions) is to 1) illustrate obsessiveness, which is the predominant theme of the book, and 2) serve as a 'filler' to allow time and distance on the boat to pass. Also, it fills out Ishmael's personality, as a haughty and inconsistent narrator.
0 Replies
 
Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2009 01:53 pm
@Pythagorean,
Yes I agree about Ishmael's digression being a narrative device - but I also think it's a fascinating insight into the evolution of zoological tone and accuracy in the past 160 years or so.

I think the Tempest is best viewed as magical realism - have you read Midnight's Children or the Satanic Verses? I think it's a clear precursor. There's a sort of similar emotional dislocation, because the enjoyment is in just surrendering to the deliberately overblown images resulting from the prose (I say at the risk of being deeply pretentious).
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jul, 2009 02:06 pm
@Pythagorean,
Haven't read those, but I've read One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is one of the crown jewels of magical realism (and all literature for that matter). Naguib Mahfouz' novelization of the Arabian Nights (Arabian Nights and Days) can be seen that way too. I guess The Tempest can be seen that way, as magical realism -- certainly in A Midsummer Night's Dream there is that effect, though I find the latter play more taut and coherent. The Magic Flute is much in the same vein as these.

Magical realism, though, seems to have a relationship with postmodernism in general. The wacky wild imaginative stuff you read in Haruki Murakami or Kurt Vonnegut or Thomas Pynchon or Tom Robbins is similar to magical realism, except that it has more of a sense of comic irony I think.
0 Replies
 
Percy41
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2016 01:56 am
@Pythagorean,
Contrast this with the later dialogue "in the cabin":

“Devils! Dost thou then so much as dare to critically think of me?- On deck!”

“Nay, sir, not yet; I do entreat. And I do dare, sir- to be forbearing! Shall we not understand each other better than hitherto, Captain Ahab?”

Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of most South-Sea-men’s cabin furniture), and pointing it towards Starbuck, exclaimed: “There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod.- On deck!”

For an instant in the flashing eyes of the mate, and his fiery cheeks, you would have almost thought that he had really received the blaze of the levelled tube. But, mastering his emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused for an instant and said: “Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.”

“He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful bravery that!” murmured Ahab, as Starbuck disappeared. “What’s that he said- Ahab beware of Ahab- there’s something there!”

Shortly thereafter, on deck, Ahab says to Starbuck, before giving to the crew the orders Starbuck requested but Ahab had violently resisted, "“Thou art but too good a fellow, Starbuck,” he said lowly to the mate . . . .

Haunted, driven Ahab, of course, is not so "good a fellow," but one who would "strike the sun if it insulted me."
0 Replies
 
 

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