CR Episode 185: Moby Dick, Part XI

Moby Dick: The Decanter, by Rockwell Kent
Moby Dick: The Decanter, by Rockwell Kent

Download Link: Released on 24 July 2023

The panel discusses chapters 91–101, with attention given to the cross-ship conduct between the Pequod and the Samuel Enderby, and to the psychological effects of sea life (and its attendant disasters) upon Ishmael, Ahab, and the rest of the ship’s crew.


  1. Hi Dr. C. and Dr. K.

    Thoughts this week –

    The Try-Works

    Ahab and the Pequod as the counterpoint to Moby Dick is summed up beautifully “as the wind howled on, and the sea leaped, and the ship groaned and dived, and yet steadfastly shot her red hell further and further into the blackness of the sea and the night, and scornfully champed the white bone in her mouth, and viciously spat round her on all sides; then the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander’s soul.”

    If you want to see what a flaming hell-ship in the black of night might look like, check out Christopher Volpe’s paintings using tar and gold leaf from his series “Loomings”. One of my favorites is on page 29 of the free e-book that he offers on his website:

    Although the nature of Ahab is clear, I am not sure what Ishmael wants us to conclude about Moby Dick. Is this a story about evil Ahab battling against good Moby Dick (i.e. Moby Dick as God)?. Or is it evil Ahab battling evil Moby Dick (i.e. Moby Dick as monster)? Or is it evil Ahab battling against an imaginary enemy (i.e. Moby Dick as just an animal)? I am inclined Ishmael favors the latter because it is the most tragic theme of all. An analogous Star Trek episode would be if a deranged captain of the Enterprise convincing the crew that a black hole was sentient and malevolent and must be killed – thereby, destroying the entire ship and crew for no reason. Your thoughts?

    The Doubloon, The Decanter, and the Squeeze of the Hand

    It is interesting that the doubloon described is a real coin that was manufactured in Ecuador between 1838 and 1843. If Ishmael is writing the “Fountain” in 1850, at most it has been 12 years since the voyage of the Pequod. In “The Decanter,” he has gone whaling again and is engaging in a drunken boozy gam with the crew of the Samuel Enderby, long after Ahab was on the ship. The English whalers full of good cheer and hospitality with plenty of food and drink are in stark contrast to the tense silent dinners of Ahab and the three mates, poor Flask the “butterless man” who is always hungry, and the cup of tepid ginger and water offered to Queequeg after he saves Tashtego. In The Squeeze of the Hand, Ishmael says happiness is in “the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, . . .the fire-side” (perhaps while engaged in some Leviathanic research). Is post-Pequod Ishmael telling us the secret to happiness he learned from whaling is enjoying simple pleasures?- “if you can get nothing better out of the world, get a dinner out of it, at least.”? Your thoughts?

    More on Emoji Dick; or, [Whale Emoji]

    Below is a link to a very interesting essay by Lisa Gitelman that was sent to me by one of the podcasters of Higgledy Piggledy Whale Statements –

    You can learn more about Emoji Dick in this essay than actually looking at the book. She also has a very interesting discussion about “Moby Dick in Half the Time” which was a book that extracted just the narrative parts, and the book published in response which includes everything that was left out which is titled “; Or the Whale.”

    O< O< O<


Post a Comment!