Saturday, July 18, 2009

Moby Dick as a horror novel

So I just started searching this world wide internet on things pertaining to Moby Dick.

I came across an interesting page that probably caught my interest as I love reading horor stories and I just could not see Moby Dick as a horror story.
Friedlander ER (1999) Enjoying "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville Retrieved Dec. 25, 2003 from

He's just a guy, a doctor, and smart. Some of his conclusions are interesting, except for that whole horror story part.
Today's most popular living writer is probably Stephen King. You can enjoy Moby
Dick as a horror novel. In H.P. Lovecraft's "Cthulhu mythos" and the Stephen
King novels that continued it, chaotic cruel monsters lie in hiding behind
veneer of familiar reality. You can understand Moby Dick as the same
kind of
story / myth, only more subtle -- we never learn whether Ahab's dark
insight is
I guess, if you consider the fact that the white whale is the ultimate in literary symbolism. It stands for so many things and hundreds of papers have probably been written on the white whale symbolizing hundreds of different things. Then again, maybe that is why this book is such a powerful myth that has been remembered since 1850--the white whale is what we the reader make of it.

For instance, I showed my oldest daughter the movie The Birds not too long ago, the Hitchcock classic. I remember us discussing at the end why the birds were doing it. "It never explained it," my daughter said. I responded, "Which is what makes it really scary. Now you are going to go back to your life and any bird you see has the opportunity to turn into one of these movie birds. A reason makes it less scary."

And she was scared. She has said how she looks at birds just a tad differently. Maybe that is what the white whale really is, and what Ahab's obsession with it is.

The essay also goes on to mention different perspectives.

The New England Transcendentalists offered philosophic and metaphysical ideas
without any overriding system or dogma. And here is the key. Moby Dick differs
from other books, particularly from its time, in offering a host of different
perspectives without any single moral. Moby Dick is about different points of

Hmmm. Maybe this is how the book is considered the epitome of American literature. At the end, (yes, I know the ending already--I had to lie on that seventh grade book report, remember?) it is the justification of the sole survivor Ishmael that gives creedence to this idea about different points of view.

Only Ishmael, who has always tried to see the other person's point of view,

This is amazing in that the narrator is the only one to try to see other sides. Every one else has the write to live in their life with their perspectives, but Ishmael is the only one to try to see other perspectives.

So then what really is the white whale? Entropy? The inability to see the other side of the argument? Interesting. Any way you slice it, interesting. Especially for a literary geek like me.

However I find that interesting, I still cannot get over the fact of the pure boredom of the novel and the writing itself. I find the above article and arguments stimulating, but I still find the novel itself boring and tedious.

Is it because we analysts can easily summarize the novel well enough to present it for literary analysis for others who have never read the book? Admit it, all this symbolism sounds great and interesting. It is the reading of the material itself that is not.

In a way, I can sort of compare this to the Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World. Admittedly, the concepts of that novel are some of the most controversial and thought-provoking ideas in all of literature and the world today. However, have you ever actually tried reading that novel? Maybe I should do a blog on that one, even though I have already read BNW cover to cover. It is no where near as boring as Moby Dick, but it comes awfully close. Chapter three of BNW, anyone?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moby Dick in the daily cartoons. This is from a comic called Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller. Again, notice that the audience is already supposed to know about the animosity Ahab feels for the whale. Notice that the audience is supposed to know the name of that white whale, in order to make the mental connection. The only reference to this being the classic book, other than the name, Ahab, is the text box saying, "Mediating the Classics." However, I do not think the text box is needed.

Daily funnies constantly go at those references that we should all get. The broader audience, you know. And the audience can pretty much all get this without ever having to read the book.

(By the way, the comic was reprinted from, of which I have the original clipped out of the paper. Months ago, I emailed Mr. Miller about reprinting it here. He could not give specific permission, but told me to email someone else, who after months, never returned my emails. Mr. Miller retains all copyright and this blog is only to research popular culture connected to the novel Moby Dick. )

Monday, July 13, 2009

Captain Ahab in car commercial

Take a gander at this Moby Dick reference in a car insurance commercial:

The interesting thing is that the Captain seems incredulous at Flo for not knowing his name. And I think that most of the audience is in on that secret little joke. We are all supposed to know his name!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Been awhile

Hi there

It's been ages. Ages and ages. Just went through another move and found my copy of Moby Dick staring at me, still with my bookmark in it.

I read another chapter. Chapter 70. Still boring as hell. Talking about decapitating the whale and hanging the head over the side. I guess this does two things a)relates the size of the beast and b)gives yet more background on the whaling industry.

Ahab does have them get on with things.

I will read more. I promise. It is summer again and I have some time. Some. Not only am I teaching summer school next week, which I have not even begun the curriculum for it, I will also be in Chicago for a week's training for the AP Literature class. I will bring the book with me that week to pass the time.

Also, I think I need to expand things here. Not only have I found several more comic book versions of Moby Dick, I have ben finding more and more references to the White Whale. Again, I believe this is interesting that people are referencing, alluding, to a story that many do not read anymore.

This brings a thought--can you still check to see how many physical copies are being purchased of this book?