Moby Dick is the Worst

24 Sep

This blog’s overarching theme is moving from NJ to Cali and the transition from East Coast to West and all about new beginnings and blah, blah, blah. BUT, I can’t always be contained or held to a specific genre or topic and sometimes will deviate. Duh.

So, in the pursuit of this move, I am trying to scrape up money wherever I can. G, who is basically my brother (long story short, my parents ghetto adopted him and he has lived with us for almost 3 years now and even though he looks like a big Hawaiian ukelele player, and I’m a tiny white girl, we are family), asked me to help him with his English class this semester in exchange for dollars. Since I can’t say no to dollars right now, I accepted. His English class is centered around “Moby Dick.” That’s it. All they have to read for this class is “Moby Dick” and write several essays on the topic.

I won’t comment on the fact that reading only one book for a college-level English course is kind of ridiculous (unless it’s a Canterbury Tales type deal). I also won’t comment on the fact that I’ve read over the syllabus and I already dislike the professor and his general premise that “Moby Dick” is about Ishmael’s search for his soul (disagree).

I WILL comment on the fact that I have started reading (again) “Moby Dick” so I can help G out and I now remember why I wanted to set that book (and maybe my English teacher who assigned it) on fire in high school. I know it is considered a literary classic and all that fancy-type praise, but Herman Melville, I hate you.

This book goes on FOREVER and devotes SO many pages to the description of the whaling industry and the taxonomy of white whales. I could give a shit about the whaling industry and don’t need to understand it to understand the book. Herman, you could have just said, “People hunt whales for their blubber a lot and are really mean about it and are kind of wiping them out.” You could have also said, “White whales are white, and big, and live in the ocean, and pretty much look like a whale,” and that would have sufficed, too. But you chose to write things like, “…the frosty Swiss [the whales] have retreated to their mountains; so, hunted from the savannas and glades of the middle seas, the whale-bone whales can at last resort to their Polar citadels, and diving under the ultimate glassy barriers and walls there, come up along icy fields and floes; and in a charmed circle of everlasting December, bid defiance to all pursuit from man.” And that’s just a short excerpt. He goes on FOREVER about the whales. This is literature, not a zoology class. Stop it. Whales get killed a lot by people and it is sad (insert dead whale imagery here).

I guess I can understand why people are like “OoOoOo such great writing” because it is good stuff (when he actually writes about what matters). But taken as a whole? I hate this book. It makes my eyes burn and my heart feel an unbounded fury for a bearded dead man.

End Side Note. (I feel like I never got to rant about this properly when I had to read it, and I probably have more to say, but this shall suffice).

As for the whole moving thing, my UBox should be picked up today or tomorrow and be on its official way to San Diego. I now have like 10 outfits to get me through 3 weeks. How awful. Doing laundry once a week is for the birds.

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3 Responses to “Moby Dick is the Worst”

  1. Alex September 26, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    When you read MD you need to read it with some things in mind… (1) Ahab is mad at God, not the whale, and his pursuit of MD is a result of MD being the only tangible outlet for his anger at being sterilized – which happened because of manifest destiny and the seas being the last frontier of wilderness during that period. (2) That painful taxonomy chapter that everyone complains about is about the different groups of people in society… a scathing theme throughout the book… which is pretty funny when you get it. (3) Most people have a third grade abridged understanding of the book… including teachers!… This is a classic that isn’t being taught correctly most of the time… saying the book is about hunting a white whale is like saying you go to Disneyland to walk under trees or JFCooper wrote about hunting squirrels. Readers really need to understand that someone doesn’t write a fiction that long about the whaling industry… Fiction is about circumstance as a vehicle for opinion. Read MD looking for the author’s opinions, understand it, and then school your teacher.

    This is easily one of my favorite books. Consider that HG Wells wrote time machine shortly afterwards (and Lovecraft is in there too) and the period is interesting for literature.

    I had a friend tell me he hated the book the other day… Because there were ten pages describing the color white… How many pages -should- you use to describe God? How many pages does it take to create contrast to Ahab’s dark mood and future, so you can truly understand Ahab? Do you recall Ahab’s comment of felicities? Or that he was married… How is his marriage different than the others in the book? Who is the antagonist in the book… Ahab didn’t do anything but act on popular belief and God punished him in a way that deprived him of basic happiness.

    If you’ve truly read the book you can probably bounce around the book and piece things together. Nonetheless, I think it’s funny that a lot of people say one of their biggest academic achievements is reading MD even though they don’t understand it… It’s like completing a marathon the day after everyone else finished. It’s not about the finish line.

    • kendra0628 September 26, 2013 at 2:36 am #

      While your analysis and passion for the novel, is appreciated, I am going to stress that I still don’t like the book. Since I am not an idiot (although you seem to think I might be…I LOVE condescension, let me tell you), I understand that Melville is using the whale as an allegory for other things, and that a lot of Moby Dick is about religion (and the pursuit thereof), as well as class commentary, social commentary, and even sexual commentary. All understood. I’ve even read the UNABRIDGED version three times.

      You may find the use of “taxonomy of a whale as a criticism of society in the 19th century” HILARIOUS and that is nice of you. Some of us don’t give a fuck. Not because we don’t get it but because some authors speak to you and some don’t. Opinions usually do differ and my favorite book will probably be different than your favorite book (since that is how opinions usually work).

      So while your very patronizing lesson was appreciated, my opinion remains that “Moby Dick” is boring and overrated and there are much better books (and authors) I would rather spend my time on.

  2. kainzow06 September 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    That’s exactly how I felt.However,there are some inspiring moments in the books,like the funeral of sailors!
    The quotes in the book are also very powerful,and I particularly liked how Melville managed to describe life’s truisms in marine terms.
    Didn’t you find the contrast between Ahab’s bitterness and the captain’s good-heartedness funny?
    All in all,in the hindsight Moby Dick is a masterpiece that holds many qualities.
    But I totally understand your point of view!I,too,was bored with the excessively lengthy digressions,and at times,the book looked like it would never end!

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