Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A report on Moby Dick - from Hasan Irtija - this items is especially for Tasneem to read and report


It took a lot longer then expected but I survived. In all earnestness it is my request to all who want to go into Cetology, please regard this book as your bible. In the last few hundred pages I learned more about whales to last me 10 lifetimes - their anatomy, bone structure, market value, usage, habits, legends, historical implications even cuisine (more information than I care to or am capable of storing in my brain). Leaving the few pages remaining for the plot Moby Dick is the record of human antiquity. Herman Melville  the writer, the philosopher and observer used his false prophet, Ishmael to set up a one-to-one lecture session with the readers. Every so often he would ask us, imply his opinion and wait for a response - "And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?"It is Melville's style that slowly intoxicates the brain keeping you engaged in this canvass of white and black. And those intricate phrases! My favorite being "the blackness of darkness" - so subtle yet so profound. 

Moby Dick is not a book for the masses. It is mentally taxing to the point that you feel physically exhausted. The words and chapters seem to drone on and suddenly without warning the leviathan attacks. A paragraph is more then enough to transport you to the deck of the Pequad. Imagine the howl from the crows nest "there she blows!" and instantly all hands on deck jump to their stations, tying up the mastheads, lowering the boats, fastening the monkey ropes and off, giving chase to that aquatic beast before it disappears into the unforgiving waters. As a reader I just stood there slowly taking in the micro-cosmic environment and again back to my reading desk. Time had warped.

Melville has a way of toying with the reader's cognitive ability. It maybe stimulation through an intricate net of philosophy and reasoning or down-hearted desperation while trying to decipher the origin of the thousands and thousands of references. Every two pages my hands darted towardsGoogle in frustration. It is surprising how flexible the sub-context is even when reading historical analogies. For example the English law entitling a portion of the whale caught to the Sovereign (the head of the King and the Tail to the Queen) remind me of the flaws of our current capitalist market system. Does it not resemble the Laws of Economies of scale. The Monopsony dictating the market; taking away the head and the tail and only leaving the bones for the small franchise owners to fend for their lives while the Rule-Makers, Dictators, Entrepreneurs lavish among their physical gratification.   

But what I enjoyed the most was the humor. A dark comic act resides with every blasphemy that Melville has created - I chuckled out loud when the Negro cook, when asked to stop the sharks from eating the whale carcass, goes and delivers a sermon to the sharks - it was Jim, straight out of Huckleberry Fin; shrewed and stubborn. To an extent I even liked Ahab, He seemed strangely repeatable on multiple fronts. I felt disturbed on how much I could empathies with this fictional effigy of "madness maddened." 

Contrary to my earlier statement I believe that Moby Dick is one of those books that everyone should read at least once, if not for enjoyment do it for the satisfaction that you have experienced a work that is going to be preserved for the ages to come. 

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