End of Gilder [536] The Ocean is a mirror

End of Gilder [536] The Ocean is a mirror
Moby Dick
(Get the ‘selected passages’ below — no way you can plow through ALL this monstrosity)
Don’t forget E-mail contact – ‘check-ins’
End of Gilder [536] The Ocean is a mirror — looking into god’s face we see ourselves. Four views of the sea: [‘The Gilder” 535] Ishmael(number four, who understands other 3 views) gives us Ahab: the sea in reality in a tiger beneath the surface, but one can dream a sweet land-like dream of green vales & pastures; Ahab looking at ocean looks on God as hidden and terrible, present in death; Starbuck looks on the ocean and God as a bride at her wedding — loveliness unimaginable; Stubb is “preconscious,” surfer-dude, a fish. Journey a religious quest; Christmas [new life] in the wilderness [113] BUT also Inverted: Ahab wants revenge, not healing; Sea too ambiguous and various for a coherent faith [536]; Our attraction to the sea [4] as the infinite, the unexplored, the unknown; Land vs Sea [298f] “our Tahiti within” dualism of sleep-wake-peace; DEATH “Faith, like a jackal”[42] Platonists, Phaedo, [152]; Cast into the sea [245] Last will makes every day a reprieve [249]?; The Line [306]?; Death a launch-ing into the strange [528-9]; MYSTIC UNION Ishmael wakes wedded to Queequeg [30]; monkey rope [349] & [585]?; Sperm pot, squeeze [455]?; FAMILY Circle of Nursing, Amorous Whales [422]?; Ahab’s gentle family yearning [590]?; REBIRTH Ishmael, last page; Queqeeg gives birth [376]?; WOE AND WEAL Catskill Eagle [465]; Doubts & faith: equal eye [409]; OUR HUMAN CONDITION: abandonment [203] [454]?; Landlessness, God, the Indefinite [117]?; True philosopher [56]?; The Line [306]; BODY: Bulkington [117]; Sperm pot, squeeze [455]?; Mystical treatise of Q’s body [524]; Pip adrift [453]; Bonding weak & strong, insanity [567-8]; Goodness of gods, wickedness of mortals [567-8]; The journey from despair (NYC) to marriage [30]; Spouter Inn to rebirth [113]; Christmas in wilderness to Landlessness [117]; and to the perils, abandonment, of the hunt [203] and death.
What is the whiteness of the whale? A point “beyond good and evil” of pure attraction and danger? A point “before we are born” — “In the beginning ” was the light, the blinding light, the whiteness of the whale set in the depths of the dark sea. The moment of entry into the world? Do we rejoice at birth or hate it? Ahab’s attack on the whale is an attack on the Unknowability of Nature — on the light that precedes any object illuminated by it. – For Ahab, not a way to find beauty-sublime but to bring death to death. Search for whale for Ahab is a pursuit of death [42]; “Faith like a Jackal” [152]; Phaedo?[306] – the line [528]. Ishmael, like Starbuck, can rejoice at birth, see whiteness as the Unknowability of love and marriage [30] and of sexuality [455] — not just the Unknowability of Power and Death. Mystic vision gives new eyes [465] and mystic embrace (whole body, hands, sea) gives new life. Union with others, solidarity, hedges against death’s isolation: Monkey rope [349], wedding, nursing whales [422]; Story telling is solidarity. “ Only I remain (to tell)!”
Comments: A Link to the Transcendent – God, or the Sacred (maybe the Whale or the Sea) through senses and imagination? “The Transcendent” might be– a) a state better than we were; b) a state better than the mundane and trivial c) a state different from the worldly (maybe art, ethics, religion — ideality & dreams) d) an ecstasy — “being outside, beyond oneself, one’s “place” e) a state in this world but not “of” it. Much is an adventure story, a story of global imperialism, a story of hypocrisy (Quakers out to kill), and to that extent not exactly “ religious.” But it might have religious strains none-the-less, a descent into a watery expanse — like gradually falling asleep (the ” ecstasy of sleep” — the need of ecstasy when one gets depressed and angry); a trance where one dreams this adventure, and wakes up “the only survivor” (in a dream, only we can tell the strange tale) like visions, full of the uncanny and weird — strange men, beasts, encounters, etc. If a “mystic vision,” it’s a kind of nightmare? a mystic “contact with the dark side”? Is the ocean-sky ‘really’ god, and Moby Dick god incarnate? Ahab is in search of god — to destroy him, has a fanatical devotion to “get” — not a redeeming touch, but a kill. The ” book itself is as formless as the sea: drama, poetry, epic, etc

Moby Dick, Melville 9780142000083 (Penguin anniversary edition)
• Reflection/Meditation papers
Format. The regular reflection papers – all but the final reflection paper — should have a bold two or three line single spaced quote at the top of each page. [so a 2 page paper has 2 quotes, one at the top of each; a 4 pg has 4 quotes, one at the top of each, etc] Beneath that quote (a different one for each page) is your reflection or meditation or ‘riff’ on it. The quotes don’t have to produce a related stream of thought, nor do your reflections. The final paper can work for integration of themes, but the earlier ones can be one-page thoughts independent from thoughts on the other pages.
How to get reflection started. In your reading be alert for moments that strike you in some fashion, and make marginal notes of these moments. Why do they ring a bell or jump out at you (for good or ill)? What triggers your imagination — heart and mind? You want to read with an eye to collecting those passages or sentences that “make you jump” – in joy or revulsion or surprise or curiosity.
Then figure out what made you take note. A ‘marginal commentary’ [comments entered on the margins of a page] should be part of your reading, and when paper-time comes you can then lay out before you the half dozen most memorable “jumps” and begin to reflect on them. Ask yourself which ones you can elaborate on, go somewhere with. Begin to narrow down the number until you find the 3 or 4 quotes (1-3 sentences each) that you can do best with – discarding the rest.
The idea of a journey appears in all the books. Consider that your writing might be like one-page journal entries that keeping track of that journey. Use the first person. And avoid any hint of a book report or “summary of ideas”. The paper shows you — your response. I should learn something about how your mind and imagination work as I read it. Let your voice and personality come out.
Reflection papers are definitely not standard expository essays. The idea is for you to be alert to sentences or phrases or moods in the writing that strike you. Your response is the key to what to write about. I can’t tell what will strike you, and each student may find something different that makes them reread, gasp with disbelief, get happy, get reminded of what a friend said or what happened to an uncle. Following up that initial “zing” from the text assures that you are responding to IT — not to someone else’s interpretation of what existentialism is, or what Camus means by the absurd, or what your professor expects you to ‘get’ from the text. Your professor wants you to start with YOUR reactions, and to nurture those reactions, build up an associative field around them of your own making.
There’s no given ‘angle’ on things I want you to accept or investigate. What is ‘given’ is the fact that you will react, and mull or ponder or ‘riff’ on your reaction, positioning your reaction amidst other things in the particular text (if that works for you) or amidst other things in your experience (including your experience of books and films and theater and camping trips or brawls, or whatever.

The sentences selected don’t have to be connected (but they might). Try to fill the page (it’s your chance to show me how you think).


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