Friday, September 10, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 371

Title: ...when all these conceits had passed through his brain, Ahab's brow was left gaunt and ribbed, like the black sand beach after some stormy tide has been gnawing it, without being able to drag the firm thing from its place.

5 inches by 6.5 inches
colored pencil and ink on found paper
September 8, 2010


  1. May I ask what was the ispiration for this piece? It is one of the illustrations I choose for my essay. I may also argue this is the one drawing of Ahab in which his usual fiercefullness is overthronedby despair. Even the one of him beeing at his saddest is not that painful. Am I wrong? Maria Giovanna Campobasso

  2. You are not wrong, Maria. The inspiration for this illustration was my own experience at reading and illustrating Moby-Dick. By the time I created this piece, well over a year after I had begun the project, I had become so completely obsessed by the work that it overwhelmed me at times. My life was no longer my own and I was devoting every waking moment either to my job or to working on these illustrations. I was deeply depressed, overwhelmed by the work, and in some ways terribly angry at myself for putting myself into this situation. The expression on Ahab's face here was a depicting of my own internal mental state, and the steadily encroaching water creeping up on him from the bottom is a visual signifier of the way that the project of illustrating Moby-Dick was threatening to overwhelm me and drown me completely.

  3. Thank you so much forthe insight. May I also ask if ahab's face here is made of wires? Or am I getting it wrong? If they are, may I ask if they are here inting the inside of machines, the exposure of what they are made of? Maybe I am going too far with this, I don' t know. Maria Giovanna Campobasso

  4. Not wires specifically (although I must admit that I like that assessment very much) but your ideas are close. These individual, fragmented, almost worm-like elements in Ahab's face were an attempt to show the maddening, writhing, conflicting thoughts roiling in his mind, almost like maggots devouring a rotting corpse. Not so much machine-like but more a look at chaos and breaking down in an organic way.

  5. Your comments are telling me I am working on my thesis in the right direction - or, well, I hope so. Never the less, I wanted to share this quote by Mleville on the novel, maybe you know it already:"It is not a piece of fine feminine Spitalfields silk-but it is of the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships’ cables and hausers." I know these are no wires, but they just made me think of this quote. Maria Giovanna

  6. I actually did not know that quote, but it is very very good. The structure of Moby-Dick is fascinating in that it seems to be, as the quote mentions, a "horrible" thing blended of many different elements rather unceremoniously and hideously blended together. In many ways, despite having been written in 1851, it seems to be one of the most post-modern texts I have ever encountered.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.