Filed under: maritime heritage | Tags: Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Moby-Dick Marathon, New Bedford Port Society, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Seamen's Bethel
You really should try to make the Moby-Dick Marathon which begins shortly at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. It’s a great and unique experience in one of America’s most historic downtown districts. The event starts at noon and runs all through the night until about midday tomorrow. The majority of the reading takes place in the museum but this afternoon the crowd ambles across the street to the historic Seamen’s Bethel which is always a highlight. Get there early because the pews are as full as an Easter Sunday service!
In case you can’t make it, the museum has set up a live stream so you can experience it from the comfort of your own berth. Enjoy!
Filed under: Book review, Education, life, maritime heritage, Moby-Monday | Tags: #mdm15, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Moby-Dick Marathon, New Bedford Port Society, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Seamen's Bethel, Twitter
Some might think that reading Moby-Dick is like running a marathon. Well, this weekend reading Moby-Dick actually is a marathon event at the New Bedford Whaling Museum which is hosting it’s 15th year celebrating Melville’s American classic.
Beth Perdue wrote a great article in today’s Coastin’ section of the New Bedford Standard Times about what you can expect which includes the below highlights so that you can chart your experience. Standing Watch – A marathon timeline (times are approximate)
Chapter 1-6, Noon, Saturday
These first few chapters are entertaining for several reasons, including the comical treatment Melville gives to the relationship of Ishmael and Queequeg and the rare and intriguing look at the city of New Bedford as seen through Melville’s 19th-century eyes. And, this year, the Whaling Museum returns the reading’s kickoff to the Lagoda, its 89-foot, half-scale whaleship replica, adding a new layer of atmosphere to the reading.
Chapter 7-9: Seamen’s Bethel and Father Mapple sermon, 1:20 p.m.
Being in the Bethel, the inspiration for this scene, is reason enough to make the trip up Johnny Cake Hill to hear the famous sermon by Father Mapple. The sermon, full of fire and brimstone and delivered with passion for the past few years by Rev. Dr. Edward R. Dufresne, is another great reason. If that’s not enough, the hymn (from the 1956 film) that kicks off the sermon will be sung by Joanna McQuillan Weeks, local choir singer and secretary of the Ladies’ Branch of the New Bedford Port Society.
Chapter 32: “Cetology,” 6:20 p.m.
This look at the scientific classification of whales is a “love it or hate it” kind of chapter with many votes landing in the latter category. In reality, Melville scholar Dr. Laurie Robertson-Lorant said, for those willing to dive in, the chapter can be very funny. “It’s hilarious because what’s he doing is deconstructing scientific classification,” said Robertson-Lorant. “He’s poking fun at this idea that now we have everything nailed down because we can make a chart.”
Chapter 40: “Midnight Forecastle” 7:45 p.m.
Written in theatrical style, this is an annual favorite among marathoners and this year promises to be extra special with the debut of Culture*Park, the New Bedford theater ensemble, to the mix. About 10 actors will perform the section which shows the ship’s watch, made up of representatives from many countries and cultures, eyeing a coming storm.
Chapter 69: “The Funeral,” 1:30 a.m. Sunday
Melville isn’t pulling punches with this powerful look at the 19th-century industry’s brutal treatment of whales. A key image here is the floating white mass of the whale’s corpse, according to “Moby-Dick” scholar and literature professor Robert Wallace, who called it one of the strongest ecological images in 19th-century literature.
Chapter 78: “Cistern and Buckets,” 3 a.m.
A short comic chapter showing Tashtego falling into a gutted whale carcass and then into the sea, only to be rescued by Queequeg. “It has what Melville calls ‘unspeakable horror’ as well as redemption and wry humor,” said Melville expert Mary K. Bercaw Edwards.
Chapter 81: “The Pequod Meets the Virgin,” 3:30 a.m.
A good example of the fun Melville managed to work into his tragedy, this chapter combines high nationalistic comedy — spoofing the futility of the German whalers — with deep Shakespearean tragedy — in the Pequod’s unnecessary cruelty to the old, blind, wounded bull whale, according to Wallace.
Chapter 87: “The Grand Armada,” 5 a.m.
In this chapter, the whaleboat enters a circle of mother whales and calves. Scholars say for all the novel’s focus on Ahab’s obsession, the whale is the book’s central figure and this chapter is its spiritual center. “Ishmael’s vision of the baby whale in the heart of the carnage “» is the spiritual touchstone for the entire book,” said Wallace.
Chapter 93: “The Castaway,” 6:10 a.m.
The beauty of Melville’s language, noted again and again in conversations about “Moby-Dick” is especially evident in this chapter about Pip going overboard and being dragged down into the depths of the sea, according to Robertson-Lorant.
Chapter 99: “The Doubloon,” 7 a.m.
A dramatic reading where Ahab nails a doubloon to the mast and each of the whaler’s crew members interprets its meaning, each according to their subjective view point, said Robertson-Lorant.
Chapter 110: “Queequeg in His Coffin,” 9 a.m.
“The fact that Queequeg cannot interpret the tattooing on his own chest even though his own heart beats against it is a lesson for us all,” said Wallace. “The dialogue between him and Pip in this chapter is unbearably poignant.”
Chapters 133-135: “The Chase,” 11:45 a.m.
The novel ends with an action-packed bang in these final chapters when Moby-Dick appears and the whalers begin their chase in earnest. “They’re chasing Moby-Dick, knowing that they’re doomed,” said Robertson-Lorant. “The language is so dramatic. The description of fear is the best there is.”
Want to experience things like Melville did as he prepared for his journey on the whaleship Acushnet, cross the street and step into the Seamen’s Bethel (aka Whalemen’s Chapel) where Father Mapple’s sermon will be delivered. Here’s a taste:
I’m proud to be a member of the Board of Managers of the New Bedford Port Society which is the organization that owns and manages the Bethel and the historic Mariner’s Home next door. We are currently underway on a major restoration and preservation project and if you are interested in learning more and/or supporting this effort, please email me. If you need or know someone who needs a new website or some digital marketing help, Sea-Fever Consulting’s digitsimple program will donate 25% of all revenues generated from new projects from now until the end of February 2011 that use the code SEAMENSBETHEL. More about our Good Neighbor Program can be found at digitsimple.
Back to the marathon.
- The majority of the event will take place in the beautiful, newly renovated Bourne Building, the homeport of the Lagoda, the largest ship model in the world.
- Can’t sail over to New Bedford for this happening? You can still experience it via the web. The Whaling Museum say they will be live-streaming the event via their website.
- It’s doubtful that this event will conjure up the appearance of another white whale, but you can follow the event on Twitter via the hashtag #mdm15.
- Think you know a lot about Moby-Dick? There’s a fun sounding Stump the Scholar’s quiz game with Melville Society experts matching wits. The free public program is patterned after National Public Radio’s popular show, “Wait, wait, don’t tell me.” No questions will be deemed too tough and prizes will be awarded. (10:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011 in the Whaling Museum’s Cook Memorial Theater.
It sound’s like a whale of a weekend! Sea you there!
Filed under: maritime art, maritime heritage, Moby-Monday | Tags: Contemporary art, Erik Durant, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Moby-Monday, New Bedford Whaling Museum, sculpture
Last month I took the kids to New Bedford Open Studios and one of the highlights was meeting sculptor Erik Durant and seeing his giant squid which was under construction for the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s outdoor sculpture show which opened last week. Durant’s studio is always a real hit with the kids if for no other reason than his giant ear sculpture with companion Q-tip; Joy especially loves it.
The sculpture show is titled “”In the Unequal Cross-Lights” — Contemporary Sculptors Respond to the Whaling Museum Collections” and the title is derived from Moby-Dick. From David Boyce’s article in the New Bedford Standard Times:
The project’s title is taken from “Moby-Dick,” referring to Ishmael’s visit to the Spouter-Inn, where in the “unequal cross-lights” he sees a painting on the wall that confounds him. Melville writes that this artwork requires “careful inquiry,” “earnest contemplation,” and “repeated ponderings.” In other words, much like looking at some contemporary art work, one must allow it time to divulge its intentions, its message, its meaning, or merely its composition.
Photo from ErikDurant.com
Filed under: maritime | Tags: Concordia, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Tom Borges
Earlier this week, Joy, Luke and I had an afterschool adventure at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, homeport of the world’s largest ship model and one of our favorite destinations. We heard that there was another world’s largest model currently laying over at the museum, a real beauty of the classic Concordia yawl.
Today’s New Bedford Standard Times has a great article about Tom Borges, the artist who built this beautiful model. He started the project in 2003 and recreated, in painstaking detail, every element of this classic yawl. Better yet, he’s designed it so that it can actually be sailed.
According to the article and the Whaling Museum’s blog, which has more information about this project, it will only be on display in the museum’s Jacob’s Gallery for the next few weeks. It really is an extraordinary work of maritime art and if you can, you should make every effort to visit the museum to experience it.
Filed under: Moby-Monday, storytelling | Tags: Kurt Andersen, Moby-Dick, New Bedford Whaling Museum, reading marathon, Studio 360
Psyching yourself up for this Saturday’s Moby-Dick marathon at the New Bedford (MA) Whaling Museum? What better way than with an hour of awesome public radio about the book’s profound cultural impact?
Recently rebroadcast, this award-winning episode of Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360 (downloadable or streamable here) features composer Laurie Anderson, painter and sculptor Frank Stella, playwright Tony Kushner, and others talking about their own fascination with the book—and about their sprawling artistic responses to it.
Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.
Filed under: maritime, Moby-Monday | Tags: Meg Guroff, Moby-Dick, New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum just began filling slots for its 14th annual Moby-Dick Marathon, a 25-hour, nonstop reading of Herman Melville’s little book to be held January 9-10, 2010. The event starts at noon that Saturday and it’s free to read, listen, or partake of coffee, cider, and “traditional whaleship fare” (ew?), but if you want a non-wee-hours reading slot, you’d better call 508-997-0046 posthaste and make your wishes known.
Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.