Nantucket-Whaling Sim

Some people just have a gut reaction to these sort of things. Is whaling inherently more evil or grotesque than murdering humans? Of course not. Is a whaling sim more evil than a game about killing people? No, I doubt anyone would actually argue that.

But just to help you out; replace whaling with something like, say…dog fighting. Do you think that would raise some eyebrows? Why? Is dog fighting somehow worse? Not really. But it hits a little closer to home. Nobody cares about games where you can send elephants into a line of spears or set pigs on fire just so they’ll disrupt ranks of soldiers (Rome:TW), because we’re so far removed from that now. But dog fighting is still a real thing, even in this country. That’s why it would cause outrage.

Besides, some people sympathize more with dogs than they do people. Some people feel the same with whales and whaling, which as noted above, is still a thing in some parts of the world. Or maybe they’re just desensitized because we’ve been portraying the killing of humans in games and other media for ages. We’ve glorified war for thousands of years.

I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with whaling sims. It’s just another violent fantasy in a hobby built on violent fantasies. And, as I tried to hint at in my first post, it’s not exactly likely to lead many to take up the business of whaling.

But I do understand the psychology behind the outrage. I would expect a small minority to voice their opinions over something even as innocuous as Nantucket. Which is perfectly fine, of course.

In fairness, those are also not industrialized. Maybe this is a travesty against morality, but the fact is the whales don’t care we are playing this game, and it’s come about solely because of the romanticism of the industry associated with Moby-Dick. Maybe Melville is the real villain here, eh.

I think there is a big difference, when a small community uses natural resources to survive, vs faceless mega corporation farming things to extinction to maximise profits. This sim lies somewhere in between those two realities, and so it’s easy to get bugged by it.

Native americans used every part of the animal, and they had great respect for it. It was a symbiotic relationship with nature. The commercialization of that process, at least for me, raises a lot more questions. Life feeds on life, in one way or another, and I don’t have any problems with subsistence living, but it does tend to take on more questions when it becomes industrialized.

I used to read alot of Willard Price books as a kid. One was a total rip off of Moby Dick, and despite getting the message across about how hard life was on a sailing whaler, it still didnt really portray the message that the whaling was wrong as it was a product of the 60s. If my kids wanted to read this there would be huge caveats around it being a product of its time and some kind of accompanying awareness of cetacean rights and anti-whaling. Whaling is not entertainment. Most of the West understands this taboo.

As a New Englander that has walked through Melville’s house, lived at the base of Greylock Mountain, listened to Moby Dick read on the deck of an historic whaling ship, and lived in the state that was the home to a hockey team called the Whalers I feel personally attacked. ;-P

Moby Dick itself is hardly a celebration of whaling, either. There is a lot of complexity (and believe it or not, humor) in Melville’s writing, and a great deal of empathy for both humans and, in some ways, whales. It’s a fascinating novel, and justifiably one of the greatest American works of fiction.

Yeah, if anything I’d say he goes for the joke a little too often.

Just don’t expect good writing with Nantucket.

Heh, well, if I could write like Melville I’d accept being a little too heavy-handed occasionally.

I was lucky to have a professor who loathed Moby Dick. So I didn’t have to attempt to read that bloated travesty of a novel. And I would’t play a modern day whaling game but this one is based on a time when sailing itself was fairly dangerous and whaling even more so. The idea that the natural world wasn’t so large that it wouldn’t indefinitely feed the world was barely In anyone’s mind. And the idea whales were as smart as they are wasn’t fathomable. I get that a game might be uncomfortable enough for someone to not play. But the vitriol against this game seems overblown comparatively.

I did too, and it was like a gateway drug to discovering persons who actually knew how to write criticism/crititques of things that explained the reason they were criticizing something coherently and sharply.

Or, as has been pointed out frequently, Moby Dick is an allegory for Man vs Nature (God)…which Melville discovered when people pointed it out to him after the fact.

Amazing forum, with such eminent professors of literature to enlighten us as to how all previous opinions on Moby-Dick have been so very wrong. Feeling very privileged to be here right now.

Why, yes. How good of you to notice each person here claims to be an eminent professor of literature, gathering from far and wide to share our opinions on classics. As the true experts in the field, after all, only our opinions should be considered and not any of the commoners who are much less learned in the field; they know not of what they speak, so ignore the rabble. Though it is not down on any map (true places never are), I hear tell of some dark, dingy corners of the world wherein they speak freely. For shame!

I mean, it’s one thing to say you don’t like it, and quite another to say it is a “bloated travesty” or offer one of the most simplistic analyses I’ve ever seen as though it is settled law. I, too, once scoffed at Moby-Dick. Then I read it. And read it again. In fact I am reading it right now.

It’s good.

It’s an overly long, bloated (redundancy alert), boring, crapfest of Freshmen, Intro to Lit 101 level depth that belongs to be forgotten or shortened down to short story lengths. And then forgotten. Or at least ignored like it was its first 70 or so years of existence.

Or you can follow the critical heard like Kolbex and love the thing like many do. It’s allowable.

Such inspiring iconoclasm.

Imagine being offended and pissed off that someone had professors in college who detested Moby Dick. Imagine being upset that people have opinions about books. Good lord, Kolbex. I hope your day gets better.

BTW, if you’re an offended relative of Melville – which maybe Kolbex’s excuse here, dunno – I’d happily admit to having enjoyed Typee and Omoo despite the rather florid Romantic writing style, and “Bartleby the Scrivener” is perhaps the best American short stories between Washington Irving and Sam Clemens.

But Moby Dick? Moby Dick is a double album that ends up a mess. It is a monument to excess. It is perhaps the only “Great Novel” I can think of where skillfully and carefully abridged versions are the better versions to read.

(BTW, if Melville was making popular music, I think I would love him unconditionally for the very faults towards excess he evinced in Moby Dick.)

How do you know it’s a bloated travesty of a novel if you haven’t even attempted to read it?

Moby Dick can be polarizing. Like any work of literature, your personal take on it will vary. And like any novel, it’s open to criticism on any number of levels. One can make cogent arguments criticizing its length, organization, focus, coherency, and what not. One can also make cogent arguments lauding its humor, eclecticism, rather advanced social concepts, insight, and whimsy. There is no One True interpretation.

It’s also not terribly important whether Melville intended this or that in terms of what the book means. That’s pretty much all on the audience. One reason the book has continued to excite such passionate love/hate relationships is that, for everyone who really attempts it, it will have a different impact, good or bad. Kind of the definition of a classic I suppose.

I did once give a short paper on the book at a conference, though I wasn’t engaged in literary criticism but rather discussing how interdisciplinary and wide-ranging the book was. I think I confused people because I didn’t set out to champion or condemn the thing.

It is a bit of a conundrum. I can sit thru a two hour film that sucks. I can’t sit thru a 30 hour or more novel who’s first few hours suck. I mean, the story isn’t in depth, it’s the details (like most lit or art). And I find the details bland and plodding. Could it pick up later on and become the masterpiece some claim? Sure, but I’m never going to find out. And I can live with that.