Friday, December 10, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 469

Title: "...look ye here - here - can ye smoothe out a seam like this, blacksmith", sweeping one hand across his ribbed brows; "if thou could'st, blacksmith, glad enough would I lay my head upon thy anvil, and feel thy heaviest hammer between my eyes. Answer! Can'st thou smoothe this seam?"

6.25 inches by 9 inches
ink on found paper
November 29, 2010


  1. Really works, especially with a lot of the armour imagery you use.

  2. I had been looking at a lot of German woodcuts and Expressionist art while thinking about this piece, so I think some of that showed through. I am really fond of how stark and dramatic it looks, but it can be difficult to apply to a constant flow of images.

  3. The armor and battleship images, and now this, all make me think of the conflict between wanting to make yourself into something, and not being able to change even the slightest thing about yourself. Ahab, Queequeg, etc. are statue-like in their essential natures, as dynamic as they are. Ishmael might be the only character in the book with any potential to be changed by what he goes through. Maybe that's why/how he survives!

  4. Dan, that is a fantastic reading into some of the deeper themes of the book and I am thrilled beyond words that some of those concepts are showing through in the art. It is such a fine line between being overtly, obviously, and perhaps sophomorically symbolic with the art (something I worry about constantly) and treating those themes with subtlety.

    Ahab, especially, is, as you mentioned "statue-like" in his essential nature. His soliloquy in chapter 132, "The Symphony," is absolutely heartbreaking. In it, he admits he has basically wasted his life whaling, and is wasting what little vitality remains to him with this mad chase after Moby Dick. He even questions why he is doing, and asks who Ahab really is. Yet in the end, his questioning relents and he seems to admit that even though he knows it is mad, he knows it will lead to death and doom, he simply cannot relinquish it or change his ways.

    At first, I disagreed a bit with your statement about Queequeg because I always saw his triumph over illness and death (the whole episode with his fever, the coffin, and so on) as being an incredible transformation but I am thinking you are actually right. There is next to nothing "wrong" with Queequeg from the very beginning of the novel. He is, in some ways, the ideal universal man. After the episode with the fever and the coffin, he only becomes more intensely and overtly what he already is. He doesn't change. He just brightens. Good stuff in these comments.

  5. Thanks for the insight. Maria Giovanna Campobasso

  6. It is my pleasure Maria. I enjoy talking about my work whenever I think someone might be interested in what I have to say.


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