Tag Archives: moby dick

Pea Soup and Poetry

A poem, for me, is often very clearly a response to what I am reading and the way it fits into my material existence. The poem in other words is both a reflection on literature and the way that literature seems to become a meaningful part of my life, my thinking. Sometimes, it seems as […]

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All Over Lost

I am nearly 47. I am very old and extremely ignorant of what has meaning to so many people these days. This piece in The New York Times by Leon Wieseltier (h/t Colin Allen), Among the Disrupted, pretty much expresses much of what I feel regarding the way the speed of “cultural transmission” allows for […]

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Everything Reminds Me of Moby Dick: Maxine Kumin

It came to my attention while skimming the Women’s Review of Books that poet Maxine Kumin had died (nearly a year ago). I know nothing of Kumin’s work but this memorial piece by Robin Becker reminded me of something: The humor here belies the relationship Kumin negotiated with her own impulse toward reverence. The paradise […]

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Swerve Me Ye Cannot!

From Lecture #6 from John Searle’s 1984 Reith Lectures, “Minds, Brains and Science.” If libertarianism, that is the thesis of free will, were true, it appears we would have to make some really radical changes in our beliefs about the world. In order for us to have radical freedom then it looks as if we […]

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Tied to Your Shared Fate

[In which we conclude that Stubb's version of the monkey-rope is evil.] What is Equality? The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. What is Equity? The quality of being fair or impartial; fairness. Is there equity in the (shared, negotiated?) social understanding of equality? I read this in a recent New […]

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The Impossible Principle

Melville wrote books that could be said to be about: Christian hypocrisy in the Marquesas, authoritarian coercion, military rule, torture, the Leviathan state, labor and brotherhood, wanton slaughter for the benefit of human “profit and progress,” the fraudulence of democratic institutions, the manipulative mysteries of the priestly caste, the politics of the confidence scam, the […]

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The Ungraspable (Extractable) Phantom

“But the list is artful…” (Harold Beaver) Melville opens Moby Dick, often considered the greatest book written by an American, with a list of extracts. That is, our greatest author offers as opening gambit the words of others. And many of them. There are eighty extracts. They begin at the beginning, with Genesis, the beginning […]

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The Poet Attempts To Explain His Poem

Common Errant:  What goes into the making of your poems? Nemesis-Poet:  Who knows? CE: One presumes you know. Or perhaps that you know something of this. NP: Well, I can only offer an interpretation and a critical response to each poem. That is, like you, I am a reader of the poem when I begin […]

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Listening to Literature, or Hearing Hard Words

I believe I’ve said somewhere else that I really only discovered a “fecundity” of thinking in myself* when I started listening to audiobooks while walking.  You know how you need to justify reading to yourself as an activity that isn’t just “wasting time” (stupid American “values”)?  Maybe you don’t, but something in me, still, even […]

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“Clubbed Voices” for the Doubtful

It is often said that Moby Dick is difficult to read.  I don’t intend to disagree.  It’s the kind of book that really can’t even be classified with clarity these days.  It is in no way like a novel that we read now.  It is something more akin to an “anatomy” as it seems to encompass […]

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Building the Insanity In: Ex Machina

This is not a movie review. This is me thinking about empathy. Last night, lonely little ol’ me sat in […]

Dislodged Giant: Can We Use Stevens to Interpret Dickinson?

You tell me. “I thought that nature was enough” by Emily Dickinson I thought that nature was enough Till Human […]

By Metaphor Alone

Motivation matters. If the scientific method (which we make into the massive all-encompassing abstraction of SCIENCE to compete with the […]

By Force of Law

Nothing new under the sun. Why do you suppose a “Sanders” presidency would change what is described below in Chapter […]

Now You Know What A Horse Is: Views On Education in the 19th Century

Schools are scenes of extreme manipulation and coercion. Our national and state interest in them is less than benign, or […]

A Rule of Storytelling and Unhappiness

As my friend began reading William Morris’s News From Nowhere, or, An Epic of Rest, I thought I might take […]