[KB] Burke, Moby Dick, and the Conference

Edappel8@cs.com Edappel8 at cs.com
Wed Dec 5 15:18:12 EST 2007

       Two quick responses to Les's estimable post on Moby Dick, and maybe 
more later:

       First, one can read the notion of giving voice and consideration to 
all the pentadic perspectives as a kind of potentially tragic perfectionism, 
true.  One can also, however, see it as a diminishment of the entelechial 
potential of looking through the truncated lens of only one of the terms.  A 
holistically pentad/hexadic set of viewpoints can fit nicely, I think, with what Wayne 
Booth said about Burkean criticism  in that article of his in Critical 
Inquiry: that Burke favors most or all of the parliamentary voices cutting across 
one another "on the bias," so as to undercut any one obsessive ideal taking over 
completely and dragging us "inadequately" (GM, on Spinoza) and dangerously 
into substantial error and injury.

       Les also says:

       "So, how to account for Ahab’s obsession? In Chap. 45, The Affidavit, 
Melville strains to make credible the notion that the whale is more than a 
dumb brute, is itself capable of intelligence and design."

       I think the chapter "The Affidavit" does that very thing up to a 
point.  It ultimately, however, comes down on the side of the credibility of the 
events to follow from a naturalistic viewpoint.  Throughout the narrative, there 
are those who see the White Whale in supernaturalistic terms (Ahab 
especially, though ambivalently), and those who take him to be just a particularly 
ferocious beast of the sea, no more otherworldly or supersensible than any other 
sea animal.  That's why, in the middle of the chapter, Melville, quite 
disingenuously in my view, can inveigh against interpreting his tale as "a hideous and 
intolerable allegory."  Hey, most of this stuff actually happened in the 
fishery at one time or other.

       Thanks to Bryan for his deft take, off of our dialogue on Burkeism as 
cult, and for his reminder to send our essays in.  I have a study I plan to 
submit after I find out what status it might have outside our trienniel 

       See ya'.



-------------- next part --------------
HTML attachment scrubbed and removed

More information about the KB mailing list