Moby Monday — Ishmael Tweets You Back

Your new pen-pal?
First came Moby-Dick as a Twitter feed. Then came a newspaper piece that reimagined the novel as a series of tweets from its narrator, Ishmael: “We’re all having a ‘whale of a time’ here! (That’s right, I WENT THERE. Sue me!)”

Last week, Thomas Watson of New Orleans went all 2.0 on the concept with TweetMeIshmael, a Twitter feed in Ishmael’s 19th-century voice. Not only does this Ishmael note his key observations as tweets, but he responds in character to Twitter users who @reply to him (by typing “@TweetMeIshmael” at the beginning of a post). Here’s a convo about Chapter 16:

TweetMeIshmael Yojo, Q’s little black god, has tasked me with finding a whaleship. Three suitable ships in harbor: Devil-Dam, Tit-Bit, and Pequod.

jmsullivan @TweetMeIshmael Go with Tit-Bit! Tit-Bit! Come on, how can that not be a fun ship?

TweetMeIshmael Laughing aloud! RT @jmsullivan “Go with Tit-Bit! Tit-Bit! Come on, how can that not be a fun ship?”

TweetMeIshmael Learned a/b Pequod: owners (Peleg, Bildad); captain (pegleg Ahab)

jmsullivan @TweetMeIshmael Pretty sure those are names of Assyrian demons. Would be _very_ wary of this ship. Sounds ominous. What was wrong w Tit Bit?

TweetMeIshmael @jmsullivan Then Yojo shall have some company. re Tit-Bit: Its seaworthiness concerned me. What chance has a tit-bit against a spermaceti?

Watson, who is reading the book on his Blackberry, first thought of the feed as a way to take notes on author Herman Melville’s turns of phrase. Surprisingly, this will be his first time through the book—if he makes it through. Watson read part of the long, dense narrative during one summer vacation and always intended to finish, but it wasn’t until he picked up Nathaniel Philbrick’s nonfiction masterpiece In the Heart of the Sea recently that he felt ready. Philbrick’s gloss on the lives of Nantucket whalers “filled in a lot of the gaps I’d had,” Watson writes. “If I were a teacher, I’d make In the Heart of the Sea required reading before Moby-Dick.”

At press time, 30 Twitter users were following TweetMeIshmael. Watson plans to post at least one tweet for each of the book’s 135 chapters, though he may post more as time and inspiration allow. “If this little project helps me finish Moby-Dick, I’ll consider it a success,” he writes. “If a few dozen people enjoy Ishmael’s missives in their Twitter feed, so much the better!”

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick. She tweets about artistic responses to Moby-Dick at

FotoFriday: Jenny Holzer’s “Wave T”

Jenny Holzer "Wave T" NY Times Style Magazine - Women's Fashion Fall 2009

Last Sunday the NY Times celebrated the 5th Anniversary Issue of it’s Style Magazine with the above image on the cover. Look closely and you’ll see the sea.

The cover was created by one of the art world’s most successful contemporary artists, Jenny Holzer. In reality the image was an art mashup with Holzer finding Cobalt123’s original image on Flickr. Here’s the story.

Holzer is an American conceptual art whose medium is language, or more precisely words. She uses words in all kinds of locations and ways including recently projecting them onto water like the below image from her interesting Projections website.

Jenny Holzer: Site: Tuxedo Princess, Gateshead, United Kingdom; October 27, 2000; Text: Lustmord - 1993-1995; Projection: Charles Paserelli; Photo: Attilio Maranzano

Here’s a video from Holzer’s recent show, Protect Protect, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

YouTube – Whitney Focus presents Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT

Herman Melville, social media and saving lives at sea

Well I’m not sure how I missed this video but surprises are good and this one made my day today. :-)

Link to the Amver post with the Herman Melville passage mentioned above.

Ben Strong leads the US Coast Guard’s Amver (Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System) unit.  Amver has been saving lives since 1958 and their blog tells their great story. Make sure you check it out.

I interviewed Ben about Amver and other topics on Messing About In Ships podcast episode 36 ; make sure you listen to this too.

Not only does Ben lead Amver but he’s also on the leading edge of using social media in the maritime world and government sector. The above video is a great example of how Ben experiments with new communication tools. This must make his ultimate boss happy because when I interviewed USCG Commandant Admiral Thad Allen for the Weekly Leader podcast episode 5 he shared his thoughts about the United States Coast Guard’s commitment to using new technology in advancing their mission.

So, thanks Ben for the kind words about the Sea-Fever blog and the leadership work we do and Happy Belated Birthday to Herman Melville!

Hunting Hurricanes with Traditional and Social Media


Mashable’s Barb Dybwad recently wrote a pretty comprehensive post broken into sections for web-based resources, Twitter-specific sources and mobile hurricane tracking and descriptively titled Hurricane Bill: How to Track it Online.

Of course, there’s always NOAA’s National Weather Service’s info packed Hurricane Tracking Center as well.

Report via Sea-Fever Twittersphere Correspondent Mia Chambers.

Moby Monday – US premiere of Conor Lovett’s One-Man Moby-Dick

Conor Lovett channels Ishmael
Irish actor Conor Lovett—known for his one-man versions of Samuel Beckett’s spare, absurdist plays—will be in California this week performing his newest piece, a solo Moby-Dick. Wife Judy Hegerty Lovett directed the two-hour play, which is showing on Tuesday and Wednesday at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre and on Thursday at the Carlson Family Theatre at Viewpoint School in Calabasas.

A reviewer for the Irish Times was “spellbound” by Lovett’s Ishmael at the show’s April premiere. Us, we’re stunned even to contemplate boiling Herman Melville’s massive tome down to two hours. We just hope they left the naughty bits in.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Look Out Tugster! There’s a New Tumblr in Town!

Everyday East River

Swissmiss is a design blog and studio run by Tina Roth Eisenberg, a “swiss designer gone NYC” and she recently posted:

Our lovely studio mate Chesley Andrews started documenting our studio view onto the East River with a tumblr blog called Everyday East River.

Okay, I think that my friend Tugster’s turf is safe for now but Everyday East River is pretty cool too!

Via SwissMiss

Moby Monday — Moby-Dick Illustrated, Page by Page

"But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive."
Here’s a bookmark for you:, where last week, artist and blogger Matt Kish began posting one drawing per day, with the intent of illustrating each of the 540 pages in his Signet Classic paperback copy of Moby-Dick. Kish renders page two as an alienated assortment of tubular, googly-eyed Manhattoes “seemingly bound for a dive.” Page three? A steampunky spermatozoon within a blue bubble, “the image of the ungraspable phantom of life.”

I tracked Kish down at his southwest Ohio home to ask him about himself and the project.

Are you a professional artist?
I am a librarian employed in a large urban library system. I am nowhere near being a professional artist and I am almost entirely self-taught. Drawing has always been a very private pursuit for me, and only in the last few years have I started sharing it with a wider audience.

Which artistic media do you work in?
I don’t restrict myself at all, and often use a variety of media in each piece. I tend to favor using found paper, especially paper that already has something printed on it, but I use Bristol board sometimes. Never canvas though. I think the size and the perception that canvas is for museums and “fine art” has always kept me away.

More often than not I use pens, ink washes, acrylic paint and perhaps some colored pencil, but I’ve used everything from crayons to spray paint to stickers to nail polish in some pieces. Really, to me, the more handmade, chaotic, and slightly skewed a piece looks the happier I am with it.

Have you done similar projects about other books?
This is my first, although I have always loved illustrated narratives. I was inspired by a similar series that the artist Zak Smith had done for Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and the ongoing project that Zak, Shawn Cheng, John Mejias, Sean McCarthy, Matt Wiegle, and Craig Taylor are doing for Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

Something about the gargantuan, almost destructive nature of committing one’s vision and ability so completely to one endeavor really appeals to me. Even if I complete one piece a day, it will be almost a year and a half before I’ve completed Moby-Dick, so I won’t be taking on any other novels any time soon, but I have been thinking about doing Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness after this, and perhaps Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan after that. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself; Moby-Dick is all I can think about right now.

How long has each page taken you to draw?
In the past, my drawings have been intensely, almost agonizingly detailed; each one took me 40 to 60 hours to complete. That, combined with a full-time job, spending time with my amazing wife, and trying to have a life meant that a finished piece could sometimes take me a month.

I grew very frustrated with that kind of slowness, and the heavy level of detail began to feel more like a prison than a joy. With the Moby-Dick project, I am making a conscious effort to let the art flow very quickly from my mind to the paper, working rapidly, intuitively and almost crudely. Each piece has taken me around an hour to complete. I’m fairly happy with this pace and with the pieces in general, but I am extremely curious about how these things will change after 10 or 50 or 200 pages.

Do you have any plans for the pages—to sell, exhibit, etc.?
I’m too far away from completing the art to have really solidified any plans, but when I’m done, the first thing I’d like to do is show the entire series in a gallery somewhere. Since I’ve got absolutely no experience with setting up something like that, I worry that might be a long shot. I’d also like to see if I could somehow get it all published, but again I worry that might be just a pipe dream. When the series is complete, I will definitely be selling many of the pieces as well. And of course I’ll be keeping the entire thing available and viewable on my blog and on my website.

What makes you like Moby-Dick so much?
Moby-Dick in one form or another has fascinated me since I was very, very young. My earliest memories are of seeing bits and pieces of the 1956 film, the one with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, and I remember seeing the whale’s eye on the screen, rolling and staring wildly. The colossal malice and fury that radiated from that eye terrified and enthralled me.

Shortly after that, I somehow acquired one of those thick little abridged versions on newsprint. I was only 5 or 6 but I remember devouring every page over and over. For some reason, I really remember Fedallah particularly from that book.

Finally, in junior high school, I read the actual novel for the first time. While a great deal of the deeper meaning escaped my young mind, I could sense that there was so much more to the book that was just out of my sight, like vast monstrous shapes lurking just below the water.

What I love about Moby-Dick now are the seeming contradictions inherent in the text, and the way that Melville seamlessly wove these together. Moby-Dick is bleak, nihilistic, hopeful and optimistic. It is deeply terrifying and outrageously funny. It is dangerous and essential. It is heretical and devout. To me, it really is everything a novel could possibly be.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.