Saturday, April 26, 2008

Survey: What is the "Great American Novel"?

It has been a long time since I have posted a survey question, but this is an important one.

Please respond--carefully, temerariously, thoughtfully, recklessly, lovingly, jokingly, completely, and compartmentally. There are many answers.

The world needs this information. I will certainly fill in my various opinions also.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Moby Dick or The Whale (Or Which Book Were You Writing?)

Dear Herman Melville,

Well, I'm touring the seas of Moby Dick. I feel like I'm reading two books at once. One is that one we remember from school, the one they refer to as The Great American Novel. Even the big name scholars say that. I'm sorry that folks didn't react as well when it was first published. But now, the say it's "Great" as in this article about Lawrence Buell from Harvard who is quoted, putting Moby Dick at the top of his 19th Century list:

"19th century novels such as Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, and
Huckleberry Finn have become perennial nominees for the fabled title

But I'm thinking about that other book you wrote and titled--the book within the book, the book called, The Whale. That one is like a National Geographic documentary, and I find it somewhat fascinating. I've read that your later books took on a "tortuous and obscure style". Did they become documentaries too? I must admit it gets a little dry at times and I feel like I wish I had a tub oarsman behind me, like Strubbs did, who could "Wet the line, wet the line." But the descriptions are fascinating in a way and reflect a scholarship of your own that would rival, I bet, even Buell's.

Avast matey. That part of the book had me scuttling through the internet looking at pictures of sperm whales and right whales and looking for the ancient images of whales that you "dis" in chapter LV, Monstrous Pictures of Whales. It had me watching movies to see if I could haul in a visual picture of what it might be like to peel the blubber off a whale and boil it down for the oil prized by the whalers. I think you will enjoy this pictorially annotated version of Chapter 55, put together so well by IATH (Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities).

One of my favorite artists Gustav Dore provided this woodcut that you may have found grating.

We moderns have done our own thing with whales, in serious art, and not so serious.

At any rate, I've found both parts of your book fairly interesting. And the tour of art has been fun.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Zero, Son of Zorro

Dear Zorro Fans,

Zero, son of Zorro, visited this morning and I had a chance to do some filming. He didn't like it too much, but I guess he was hungry enough to stick around for a few minutes of film attention.

I am glad that Zero is visiting. I miss his father. We kind of became friends and it is always hard to lose a friend. It's nice to make a new friend though.