Saturday, March 10, 2012

Melville's Bartleby

Just the other morning, an ordinary Friday, I awoke at about 2:45 am. I have no idea why. I wasn't sleepy anymore. I lay there for an hour, restless, and then decided that sleep was not forthcoming. So I decided to pick up a book.

What to read--what would put me to sleep. That's what I was looking for. I had been talking with people at work about the reference to Melville's story "Bartleby the Scrivener" where the character keeps saying, "I prefer not to." We were likening this to some of our high school students. I even gave a copy of the book out and said I would re-read it and discuss, kind of like a little book group. I just knew that I really didn't want to read it at all. I hadn't read it since American Lit in college and hated it then.

So that's what I would pick up to read. That would put me to sleep! Melville!

So I started reading. I got so absorbed that I read the whole thing. I never did go back to sleep.

"Bartleby" is a magnificent little story. Tantalizing with clues as to why Bartleby is like this. The frustration of the narrator coincides with a reader's conscience. This is what we would do.

The other three copiers in the law office are a trinity of man, showing that a young kid, a young man, and an old man all have drive in life--or at least the ability to do what's required of them. That's important, I think, to run the gamut of ages and not letting it be linked to a certain phase. Even the old guy, who had probably been doing this copying since the young kid's age, still does what's required. The young man sees his future as a mirror of the old man's life.

At the end, we discover that Bartleby used to work in the dead letter office. Did these dead letters affect him? Was Bartleby a dead letter himself, with no address or purpose?

Melville can sure construct a sentence. There's some beautiful stuff here. Also, this story PROVES that Melville CAN write a good old narrative structure. It proves that Melville knows what to do. So why didn't Melville use these things when he wrote Moby Dick? Maybe that's a question I need to investigate further. When an author knows the rules and then breaks them on purpose, there has to be a reason. Melville knew the rules.

My wife just says that I stayed up because Melville makes my blood boil and that I get worked up over Melville so that probably is what kept me awake.

Hakugei volume 5

The sci-fi of Hakugei: The Legend of the Moby Dick is actually pretty darn good. It's an intriguing tale altogether, and even if I didn't have this obsession with the classic status of the novel, I would probably still enjoy this while I have been watching lots of anime lately. It's a good show.

Ahab versus the android Robotnik (Jacobs/Murato) and Ahab loses. So Robotnik is a cool bad guy. Mono a roboto Ha!

Ahab: "If I lost to a guy like you then how could I ever face Moby Dick?"

Murato then fights and kills Barba, the Queequeg character. Barba's (Queequeg's) luggage has an inscription that helps to rebirth Barba--is this akin to the coffin in the original novel?

Madam Ohara (Special Assistant) and General Ho are interesting characters. Again, the cool bad guys are actually more interesting than the idea of Moby Dick the whale.

The reborn Murato crushes General Ho.

I wonder where all of this is going. In all respects, Ahab must somehow stop the android Dew from being this detonator of the Moby Dick space bomb in order to save the planet Moad. In other ways, Ahab must defeat the white whale in order to save the planet. The ultimate good guy then?

Or is that what Ahab was doing in the novel? I have read bits on how Moby references the evils of the world. Is that what the novel's Ahab was always chasing, the eradication of the world's evil?

But then that still doesn't help its narrative structure. Nor does it alleviate the torture of sitting through Ishmael's first hundred or so pages. Not to me, anyway.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Movies changed from the book modern reference,0,1468020.story?track=rss

March 2, 2012--Of all the movies in the world to refer to, this one gives away the ending to Moby Dick.

In a review of the new movie "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" by Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic, of all the movies to reference a change from the source material, he chose Moby Dick.

"Movies always have monkeyed around with their source material— a 1930 version of " Moby Dick" had Ahab kill the whale and return home to his girlfriend — but it's hard to remember one that actually apologized before the fact for what it was about to do."

He didn't choose the happy ending of Grisham's The Firm with Tom Cruise. He didn't choose some of the little things in the Lord of the Rings movies like Arwen, not the seriously bad changes in The Running Man movie, not even the horrible Supergirl movie, or probably hundreds of others. He chose Moby Dick.

This means that the basic plot is ubiquitous. Especially the ending is known to all, I remember guessing so horribly when my teacher in seventh grade asked me what happened to Ahab (I sheepishly and in full question-voice muttered, "He died?"). I basically got it right, didn't I?

The thing is that the reviewer's opening statement ruins two items if the reader had never experienced them before--the 1930 movie and the book, because the ending of the book has to be opposite. However, the reviewer probably also chose these because no one today will take the time to see a 1930 movie (you know what I mean--there is a specific audience that watches old 1930s movies and most of today's populace simply will not watch movies in black and white anymore) and no one, NO ONE, will read the book of Moby Dick anyway. So this was a safe choice because nobody needs spoiler warnings for Moby Dick.

And I see what the reviewer is driving at. The Lorax apparently comes right out and says it is going to be different than the original book. It probably has to, especially after the horrors that were the live-action Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat. See, now nobody can simply come out and say that it was just too different from the book version. Well, they told you it was gonna be different!

I have to hunt down that 1930 Moby Dick now. Let's go see if it is at

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hakugei volume 3

Hakugei volume 3

Very cool as they plunge down to the planet that Moby Dick comes at them from below to destroy their ship. Very cool.

Their ship, Lady Whisker, sinks, just like the Pequod.

The sci-fi is really interesting, even though it has no real relationship to the Moby Dick novel. I don't understand the entire concept of the android Dew character in any relation to the novel but it is really cool here if you don't think about the book.

This is just another reason overall why they even wanted to have the name Moby Dick as the planet-destroying cannon. Couldn't they have kept the themes without using that name?

Marato is a cool villain that looks like Dr. Robotnik.

Hakugei volume 2

Hakugei volume 2

Ahab just seems too personable, too buddy-buddy, for a true Moby Dick interpretation. He's like a Captain Harlock. They talk about him and say he has "personality defects" but they still love him.

Space Pachinko!

The detective White Hat is "looking for the big one [criminal--Ahab] that got away." Detective White Hat whipped him in prison and after Ahab escaped, he went looking for him. Ahab seems to have more reason to go after White Hat than the white whale. Now amazingly, he joins the crew and they are all buddy-buddy.

Then they are having little side adventures while still pursuing their ultimate goal. So that is a lot like the novel Moby Dick. However, I am liking this anime series.