Thursday, October 4, 2012


Today I am writing about our visit to the MASC as a class. I had never been to the MASC before and was shocked that Washington State University even had this department. I assumed if the school has such a program and resource available to students that I would have heard about it before now. I have always had a passion about old books. To me, there is nothing better then sitting down with a heavy hard back book, opening its pages and smelling the parchment and dust that accumulates with age. Older books hold a wondrous mystery, sometimes you find notes and letters written in them. That is an exciting event because it gives me insight into the life of the previous owner of the book. In addition reading notes from other people can give me insight into the text by what they say, if its not insight then its entertainment over their misunderstanding of the text.

I personally love reading books, the task of turning each page, marking my place and feeling the weight of the book make me so happy. There is such an exciting feeling when you finish a 700 page book and can put the heavy book back on the shelf. I can't lie, its very alarming to me that ipads and kindles are so popular. I love the ability to read the news online and read things on the go, however I fear technology. What if some day in the future our kids dont even know what a book is? That would be the most depressing event ever.

I honestly didn't worry about this until about three months ago when I was in the Apple store and a young boy was playing with an Ipad. The little boy must have been around 3 or 4 and I remarked how funny it was that he knew how to use an Ipad at such a young age. His father told me that the pervious day the young boy was looking at a magazine and he tried to swipe the page to turn pages. This is extremely alarming!!! The library at my house is one of my favorite places, entering a room where the walls are just filled with books and being able to walk around and select what book I want to read is like a ritual. Its calming and its wonderful, its been done by people before me for years and years to read exactly the same texts that I read. Its simple and wonderful in every way possible.

Overall, I have an extreme attachment to printed books and knowing that the MASC is available for student use is very exciting! I can see myself working in a library in the future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Queequeg and his Coffin: (maybe a spoiler)

As we have discussed in class Queequeg's coffin is an ironic work of symbolism and detail. Queequeg has this coffin made at a time where he thought that he would die due to some sort of fever or flu that was going around. Upon this coffin he had pictures which he values as important to his life carved on it. That itself is an interesting idea, normally coffins are blank and give no clues to who rests within. However, Queequeq's coffin is different. After he survives the fever that is being spread he uses his coffin as a sort of trunk, or holding device for all of his positions that he values. This in and of itself is very interesting and deep to me personally.

I come from a very religious background and the idea of holding your entire life inside something that symbolizes the very death that he just avoided is very interesting to me. Personally, I would think about how finite life is every single time I open that coffin up to get a shirt or whatever I needed. Im not going to go as far to say that its creepy, but it is an extremely interesting idea. I personally think that in modern times people are far more sensitive to death because people live longer and there are more medical cures, so when a person dies, its normally after all other options of life extension have been worn out. So, perhaps it wasnt as odd as an idea for him rather then me.

Even more symbolic and intriguing to me is when the ship crashes at the end of the book and everyone is drowning, the coffin is the only thing that keeps Ishmael alive. The idea that something that represents Queequeg's death can save his best friend on the ship is really powerful. Queequeq himself ends up dying in the accident, but his foresight into his own mortality ends up saving the life of one person on that boat.

It honestly is a haunting scene for me to read and picture because the idea of grasping onto something to survive that was used my someone very close to me as their home in death gives me chills. Im not sure if others got the same response when they were reading the book, but if I had to choose a moment in the book that I most related to or connected with, it would be this.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Paper: Feed back anyone?

I was just wondering if anyone would be able to give me some feedback for my next paper?

Repugnance or Admiration?
            Moby Dick is an ionic novel about a young sailor named Ishmael and his journey on the whaling ship, Pequod. Herman Melville is widely recognized as the author and creator of Moby Dick. The novel is cropped full of underlining themes and motifs involving whaling, whaling crew relations and Shakespearean references. One theme that is present throughout the whole novel is Christianity.  Melville’s novel gives a clear picture of what he thinks about the ‘saving’ religion called Christianity. Herman Melville holds an underlying resentment for the religion of Christianity and expresses these views in his work Moby Dick.
            The novel Moby Dick was published in 1851, a time period where younger generations were not focusing on the strict rules and regulations previously required of religious worship. Instead, the United States and similar countries were starting to embark on the path of Transcendentalism. Transcendentalism is based on the properties of skepticism and logical thinking. Followers include but don’t limit Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreu and Margaret Fuller. These ionic authors believed very similarly to Melville in the regard that they thought religion was not all about terrifying sermons and long hours inside stuffy churches. Rather these young innovators thought that a connection to God could be obtained through nature and personal reflection. Understanding the time period in which novels were written is pivotal to understanding the authors’ perspective. Herman Melville did not so much hate the idea of a higher power, he might have believed very strongly in one. Melville dislikes the mental boundaries and persecution that the institution of a church established.
            An example of Melville’s agreement with Transcendentalism appears in the chapter The Chapel.  Ishmael is making his way around the streets when he comes to notice multiple tablets bought in the memory of men who had died on sea. He states, “Yes, there is a death in this business of whaling- a speechlessly quick chaotic bundling of a man into Eternity. But what then? Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air.” (45).  This quote is especially insightful because not only does Melville reference religious belief he also interprets nature into the quote. The fact that Ishmael is reflecting on the reality that he has misunderstood what occurs after life is proof that there is some doubt about the credibility of religion in Melville’s mind.  The after life is a commonly and widely spread belief for most Christians. In fact, it is hard to be a true Christian without the agreement that there is an afterlife. Melville focuses rather on the fact that his body and his current self on earth is his true being. That while he is on earth, he is at his prime. Most Christians think that when the body dies and the soul is released to heaven that is when one is the happiest and most pure.
            Throughout the entirety of the novel the character Queequeq is referenced as a cannibal. Queequq follows his native religion and is constantly judged and discriminated against, not only for his religion but his skin color and general appearance as well. The fact that the main character Ishmael is most attached to a dark skinned non-Christian is a subtle mockery of Christianity as a whole. Queequeq is one of the more compassionate and logical characters in the book. He displays all the tenants of Christianity, even though he is not. After Queequeq steps up and saves a man overboard Melville describes Queequeq’s thoughts by saying, “It’s a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We cannibals must help these Christians.” (64).  This is a very important quote because not only does it show that the ‘cannibal’ has a better sense of morals and ‘Christian’ actions but it also is a mockery. Melville uses this subtle example to show that although Christians say they are the most caring and best religion, when it comes down to it, its exactly the opposite. Only fourteen chapters into the book, Melville already establishes that he not only disagrees with the idea of organized religion, such as churches and large groups of individuals worshipping. He also establishes that he disagrees with the idea of Christianity because of its contradictions that he constantly observes.
            Ishmael was raised in the Presbyterian church, coming from a religious background it is especially important to note his disregard for organized religion. He states, “But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth-pagans and all included- can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood?  Impossible! But what is worship? –to do the will of God- that is worship. And what is the will of God? –to do my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me- that is the will of God. Now, Queequeq is my fellow man.” (57).  In this Melville describes how he believes that the tenants of a healthy and good life is not kneeling for hours but rather treating those around us with respect, the way we want to be treated. Although this is present in the Bible and the majority of Christian denominations, it is also a common belief among many religions and people alike. The previous passage was so controversial at the time that it is regarded as the reason that Herman Melville never was a popular author in his lifetime.
            Herman Melville takes special care to include many references about how Christianity is lacking in some of the very morals that they preach. He disagrees with not only with the idea about it but believes so strongly that he is willing to put his career on the line by letting his views be known to his readers and critics alike. Although it is almost impossible to know exactly what Melville thought about a higher power without clearly asking him, it is obvious through his writing of Moby Dick that he does not agree with the tenants of organized religion.  

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. London: W.W Norton & Company,
1851. Book. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My thoughts on Moby Dick

My thoughts on Moby Dick:

            The book Moby Dick has been an ionic novel since its creation, more popularly read after the death of Herman Melville though. Personally I never understood the cult like following and obsession that schools, teachers, parents and friends have had for the book. My father has a copy of Moby Dick that he obtained in his childhood. The book is written in, worn out and weathered. I have seen the movie on T.V a few times and know the general plot of the book. However I didn’t realize the mass amount of symbolic references that the book held. Personally I am grateful that I have never actually ventured to read the book until now. Granted I have read chapters here and there, but mostly out of boredom.
            I think that it is a waste to have high school students read the book because the amount of references to past poems, novels and bible references is amazing. I feel as though high school students wouldn’t understand the depth that Melville went into and would only see the surface level plot about hunting a whale. Granted, this is a very interesting story, but alone the story is not enough to capture the attention of the adolescence. Even now reading the book as a college student and fairly avid reader, I find myself struggling to read the chapters that are purely descriptive of the sea or general whale information.
            I think a more high school oriented curriculum for the reading of Moby Dick would be to have a section of the English class focused on the myths and smaller stories about the whale hunting in the 1800’s around America. Then perhaps readers would be able to focus less on trying to understand how whale hunting is conducted exactly and more on the literary wonder that is Melville. I think for the most part readers are so focused on trying to understand all of Melville’s whale rants that they never fully focus on the things that he is trying to express between these informational overloads. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jean Muir

In this blog post I will be discussing why I believe that Jean Muir is in fact a psychotic woman rather then someone that we as readers should admire and respect. She throughout the story intentionally uses her charm and fake personality to manipulate a family into thinking she is someone and something she is not. She does not do this to further the family or instill some sense of happiness or wellbeing on the members of this family, but rather for personal gain. Her entire mission is to win the heart of the brother who would allow her to gain a title that is unavailable to her because of her low class blood.    
            Although it is hard to classify Jean’s behavior under one specific mental disorder I think that the most fitting description of her is psychopath. According to a psychopath is “a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests  as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience.”
            Jean Muir fits into this description in multiple ways, first off she commits extremely immoral acts by pretending to be a different age and alters her entire physical appearance. Classmates argued that this is a typical act when trying to seduce another person however normally these acts are so small that an individual can still see the basic characteristics of the person, Jean alters her entire self, not just parts. In addition, I believe that she is unable to truly love other people. She may act emotionally invested in a situation or person however she is willing to do anything in her power to get what she wants, even let to brothers stab themselves over her. Something that if she actually cared for either of them, she would not have allowed. Even moreover we know that she has tried this attempt to gain title in the past. Although she did succeed this time, the risk for failure was very high. This leads me to believe that she has not learned from her past actions because if she had, she would know that she is risking her very life by messing with such affairs.
            Overall I think that Jean Muir is a mentally unstable woman who does not exhibit what it is like to be a strong woman. A strong woman navigates a challenge using morals and integrity, Jean does none of this.