Moby-Dick - Cetology

Moby-Dick is full of adventures, lessons, and unbelievably boring chapters...sounds kind of like life. Whoa. Trippy.

LiteratureMoby-Dick

Transcript

00:27

your friends at cocktail parties actually don't alright so it's

00:30

strange really How much time melville spans on actually considering

00:33

the whale isn't supposed to be a novel of adventure

00:36

not an encyclopedia instead of injuries Why is melville so

00:40

insistent on throwing down whale fat Does he really need

00:43

to show you Well yeah we talked about in the

00:46

preface a little bit he's kind of just trying to

00:49

give us some facts so we know what's coming down

00:51

the pike but there's got to be a little bit

00:53

more for that And you know i think the overarching

00:56

answer here is that as much as moby dick is

00:59

a novel about a hunt for a whale it's also

01:01

a novel about a hunt for knowledge and for other

01:04

abstract ideas So we get information about whale anatomy about

01:10

the representation of wales in art the roles that whales

01:14

have played in history the laws about hunting whales and

01:18

so again we just get this mass of melville knowledge

01:21

thrown at us which makes it feel ah little bit

01:25

more trustworthy You know we have ishmael who's This narrator

01:29

will get into a little later about how he maybe

01:31

isn't the most trustworthy Narrator on and here we get

01:33

some information which you know brings us back and says

01:35

okay we can trust this guy again Come back to

01:39

the biblical imagery moby dick is a metaphor Well moby

01:43

dick's a metaphor for everything One of the things we'll

01:45

be dick might be a metaphor is god we're trying

01:48

to hunt down this whale We're trying to find moby

01:51

dick he's elusive his mysterious uh and this is the

01:57

same way that we kind of try to god you

02:01

know christians think calvinist christian fisherman that came where melville

02:05

came from they're trying to reach god but he's like

02:07

unreachable they can't they can't grasp them So just like

02:12

the bible wants to tell us everything that we can

02:15

possibly know about god moby dick want to tell us

02:18

everything we could know about whales And there are you

02:21

know you go to the bible there's leviticus that's a

02:24

boring old chapter about laws so we can kind of

02:26

compare these cytology chapters two chapters in the bible like

02:30

lucas makes a lot of sense and contextually is we

02:33

think about it in you know the contemporaneous time when

02:37

this was written the notion that whales could be driven

02:41

to extinction by over hunting was probably not something they

02:45

even remotely thought about It's also reasonable toe remember that

02:50

whales were a natural resource the whale oil and all

02:55

the other body parts of wales from the tusks to

02:58

the baleen toe someone was all things that were used

03:01

in normal households and believe or not a typical housewife

03:05

would have known how to cure the whale and manage

03:07

the baleen and they made combs And like all the

03:10

other elemental things that you actually needed for your house

03:13

so emotionally the idea of killing a whale wasn't that

03:15

different from chopping down a tree or like hunting squirrel

03:18

or something your backyard right And and this you know

03:21

we'll talk a little bit about this later as well

03:23

but this brings us to the idea of transcendentalism right

03:25

where you know nature is how we reached god and

03:29

and so like you said it's no different than chopping

03:30

down a tree But if if that tree is a

03:34

metaphor for god which moby dick and whales or metaphor

03:37

for god then it's a little blasphemous that they're kind

03:39

of trying to hunt down in like a harpoon and

03:42

kill this whale which is a metaphor for god So

03:45

again we get this exploration of religion and you know

03:47

again not in one direction or another but but a

03:51

really deep meditation on on what it means what god

03:54

and what nature really means for melville what's the point

03:58

of this city apology chapters Why does melville include them

04:03

For what might moby dick be A metaphor Uh