Classic American Lit

mostly stuff related to writing in and about "America" from colonial contact to the American Civil War

bryanwaterman:

theatlantic:

Walt Whitman is Great at Twitter

@TweetsofGrass has just begun its fifth reading of the poet’s seminal work.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]


Great piece about a long-time favorite feed.

The Atlantic prolly should’ve used the 1855 engraving though. Would old man Whitman have been as good at Twitter as 36-year-old Whitman?

bryanwaterman:

theatlantic:

Walt Whitman is Great at Twitter

@TweetsofGrass has just begun its fifth reading of the poet’s seminal work.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Great piece about a long-time favorite feed.

The Atlantic prolly should’ve used the 1855 engraving though. Would old man Whitman have been as good at Twitter as 36-year-old Whitman?

LOL@MD

Only 12?

‘A mutual joint stock world, in all Meridians;’ a remarkable formulation uttered from the Pequod: that literary artifact of the long temporal nexus between colonial and industrial extractions. At that cusp, contests raged over the meaning of violence in colony and capital (all puns intended). Was the cannibal the colonized and untamed, in need of civilizing, or was it the vampirical force of capital that devoured bodies of every kind with such voracious appetite?

In the case of the latter, even the masters of industry were not safe from the degredations they oversaw. Ahab—in the course of a life spent feeding the home fronts of industrial production with oil to lubricate machinery and to illuminate the night (and extend the working day)—has been mutilated and merged inextricably, body and mind, with the object of his hunt. He has become part whale; a baleen prosthesis standing in for human flesh and bone.

—   thestate | dispatching the prime meridian
Joey and I hanging out with Ben.SM & JB

But there is no female counterpart in our culture to Ishmael or Huck Finn…It sounds like a doctoral crisis, but it’s not. As a fifteen-year-old hitchhiker, my survival depended upon other people’s ability to envision a possible future for me. Without a Melvillean or Kerouacian framework, or at least some kind of narrative to spell out a potential beyond death, none of my resourcefulness or curiosity was recognizable, and therefore I was unrecognizable.


True quest is about agency, and the capacity to be driven past one’s limits in pursuit of something greater. It’s about desire that extends beyond what we may know about who we are. It’s a test of mettle, a destiny. A man with a quest, internal or external, makes the choice at every stage about whether to endure the consequences or turn back, and that choice is imbued with heroism. Women, however, are restricted to a single tragic or fatal choice. We trace all of their failures, as well as the dangers that befall them, back to this foundational moment of sin or tragedy, instead of linking these encounters and moments in a narrative of exploration that allows for an outcome which can unite these individual choices in any heroic way. I will also admit that I think fixed narratives can be pretty dangerous. As vessels that shape our sense of self, they can be narcotic, limiting, and boring, and our development as humans is directly tied to our ability to cut across these simplistic story lines rather than be enslaved by them. Keystones in the arch under which we pass into a landscape of adolescent narcissism—that is what I think of fixed narratives. But they also keep us safe. They mark our place in society and make sure we’re seen. Therefore, the only thing more dangerous than having simplistic narratives is having no narrative at all, which is deadly.

—   

Why aren’t there any female Ishmaels?

The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why It Matters

NK

"Someone asked me," Benjamin Franklin once said, "what’s the use of a balloon?" They don’t do much. They just float. What are they good for? And Franklin replied, "What’s the use of a new-born baby?" They just sit there. They don’t do much. You have to imagine possibilities.
via.
-SL
One last thing
jb

For comic relief/inspiration while writing final papers—New Yorker cartoons inspired by Moby-Dick.

-SL

Stages of the whale.

 Nor does this — its amazing strength, at all tend to cripple the graceful flexion of its motions; where infantileness of ease undulates through a Titanism of power. On the contrary, those motions derive their most appalling beauty from it. Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.” (The Tail, 294)

Comparing the humped herds of whales with the humped herds of buffalo, which, not forty years ago, overspread by tens of thousands the prairies of Illinois and Missouri, and shook their iron manes and scowled with their thunder-clotted brows upon the sites of populous river- capitals, where now the polite broker sells you land at a dollar an inch; in such a comparison an irresistible argument would seem furnished, to show that the hunted whale cannot now escape speedy extinction.” (Does the Whale’s Magnitude Diminish?—Will He Perish?, 352)

I just realized why I like this book so much—it’s like the proto-Shark Week.

-SL