Shift From Transcendentalist to Anti

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Shift From Transcendentalist to Anti

Post  joyceychen on Wed May 13, 2009 1:34 am

I'm gonna try to think of other points other than the ones other people posted [only read a few] so bear with me. bom

Moby Dick/Melville
Before the prophecy,Ahab was full of self-trust, as he believed in himself and that he could chase down Moby Dick. He was filled with this feeling of unlimited potential up to the point he was able to convince his crew to believe in this pursuit too (though Starbuck did complain). We can see the first major point of Transcendentalism here - unlimited potentail. What about the second one? Interconnectivity/unity/whole/oneness. In a way [maybe this is a huge stretch], Ahab got his crew to unite in this mission. But Ahab failed to see that unity is not just limited to people, it includes nature too (and therefore Moby Dick). This is why there was not a presence of a Supreme Being as the ship searched for Moby DIck.
The prophecy was a interesting twist. With unlimited potential, we should be presented with choices - believe the prophecy or not. In Moby Dick, Melville had Ahab choose to believe, setting a limitation to himself, as the prophecy is complete and comes true. THat's step number one. For the phophecy to happen, one must believe in it first. What happens if you dont? Ahab would not have bounded himself. Like in The MAtrix, Neo chooses not to believe in the Oracle's prophecy that he is not The One therefore the prophecy is not fulfilled and Neo finds himself in unlimited potential. If so, why does Melville have Ahab believe his prophecy? To draw the line at where the story shifts into being anti-Transcendentalist. An author can never be objective. Melville's choice in Ahab's decision reflects something about the author himself.

The Scarlet Letter/Hawthorne
Hester follows societal rules by wearing the A. If she didnt want to conform, maybe she could have tried to remove the A. Instead, she rebels in a different way - not feeling the shame and guilt she should have felt. However, later in the story, Hester does charity work, and though she is not trying to prove herself or fit in with society, in a way, this could appear as conforming as she is still somewhat "playing by the rules." Society changes her A to mean Able. Hester may have changed society to accept her, but in order to do so, she had to conform a bit to allow it to happen. Both sides had to contribute for a new middle ground to be reached. Does this suggest a balance between society and individuality? How independent can one be, because society can't be all that bad? Like how the mind is a good tool to use, as long as we dont allow it to go into overdrive.
Does Pearl play as a factor in Hester's actions? Could Hester be trying to conform to pave a better, brighter future for Pearl? Perhaps Hester does not want her actions to influence and affect the life of her daughter. Then this becomes an exception. Or is it really? Perhaps Hawthorne wants to point out why conforming might be the more considerate, altrulistic thing to do. Or just that you can't totally detach yourself from society. Humans are communal and are therefore to some degree affected by a society. How much freedom are we actually given? Are there not still some social rules we need to abide because the world does not revolve around just one person?
And nature releases our boundaries, as we mentioned in class.

edit: I suddenly realized during English class today that I had spelled Ahab's name wrong throughout this entire post. My apologies. But thank you very much, Henning, for also seeing my huge mistake. [I have gone back and corrected it now]. Sorry for any confusions this caused!! [ad no wonder something felt weird as I was typing this up.]
But back to the discussion!
elephant


Last edited by joyceychen on Wed May 13, 2009 8:08 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Shift From Transcendentalist to Anti

Post  hen on Wed May 13, 2009 2:36 am

Following your example of pointing out things that most likely haven't been pointed out yet, I'll reply to a post that has no replies as of yet.
You definitely saw more into the transcendentalist references in both stories than most people did. I didn't think of the prophecy as a limiting factor in that it is Ahab (by the way, it's Ahab, not Abah) setting a limit for himself.
Do you think, however, the outcome of the story would've changed had Melville made Ahab not believe in the prophecy? I thought that one of the points that the anti-transcendentalists were trying to disprove was the consistency of the universe, how it is in fact a dynamic system of unknown events rather than a static system of absolutes.
Wouldn't this point be better presented had Melville made Ahab fail despite his disbelief of the prophecy? As said in the commentary of the story, "Life is always a voyage into uncharted waters. It offers no certainties but only the ever-changing meanings of human experience." Though then again, this leads me to another question: if absolutes are what the anti-transcendentalists were trying to disprove, why would Melville use the prophecy in his story?

I believe I just raised a paradoxical question....
Shocked
my apologies if I've got you confused now as well.
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Re: Shift From Transcendentalist to Anti

Post  Ajk on Wed May 13, 2009 10:10 pm

joyceychen wrote:I'm gonna try to think of other points other than the ones other people posted [only read a few] so bear with me. bom

Moby Dick/Melville
Before the prophecy,Ahab was full of self-trust, as he believed in himself and that he could chase down Moby Dick. He was filled with this feeling of unlimited potential up to the point he was able to convince his crew to believe in this pursuit too (though Starbuck did complain). We can see the first major point of Transcendentalism here - unlimited potentail. You got it, Joyce. Perfect. Particularly your point with him being able to convince his crew, due to his strong feeling of unlimited potential. What about the second one? Interconnectivity/unity/whole/oneness. In a way [maybe this is a huge stretch], Ahab got his crew to unite in this mission. But Ahab failed to see that unity is not just limited to people, it includes nature too (and therefore Moby Dick). Right, this is one of the key areas where Melville began his diverging from Transcendentalism into Anti-Transcendentalism. This is why there was not a presence of a Supreme Being as the ship searched for Moby DIck.
The prophecy was a interesting twist. With unlimited potential, we should be presented with choices - believe the prophecy or not. EXACTLY JOYCE! EXCELLENT DISTINCTION; REFLECTS STRONG MASTERY OF THIS CONCEPT OF CHOICE AND THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS AND HOW IT'S OUR CHOICE WHAT WE CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN. In Moby Dick, Melville had Ahab choose to believe, setting a limitation to himself, as the prophecy is complete and comes true. THat's step number one. For the phophecy to happen, one must believe in it first. Yup; fine analysis here. What happens if you dont? Ahab would not have bounded himself. Like in The MAtrix, Neo chooses not to believe in the Oracle's prophecy that he is not The One therefore the prophecy is not fulfilled and Neo finds himself in unlimited potential. So that this, in your totally relevant synthesis, is an example of Self-Reliance and trusting the Trustee. And even non-conformity. So that this is a quintessential Transcendentalist act, that Neo did, not Ahab. Fantastic interpretation work. If so, why does Melville have Ahab believe his prophecy? To draw the line at where the story shifts into being anti-Transcendentalist. An author can never be objective. Right. Key synthesis needed here; applying our last unit in your interpreting of Ahab's actions to understand Melville's Anti-Transcendentalism. Melville's choice in Ahab's decision reflects something about the author himself. Good mastery, Joyce of these concepts in conjunction.

The Scarlet Letter/Hawthorne
Hester follows societal rules by wearing the A. If she didnt want to conform, maybe she could have tried to remove the A. Instead, she rebels in a different way - not feeling the shame and guilt she should have felt. However, later in the story, Hester does charity work, and though she is not trying to prove herself or fit in with society, in a way, this could appear as conforming as she is still somewhat "playing by the rules." Society changes her A to mean Able. Hester may have changed society to accept her, but in order to do so, she had to conform a bit to allow it to happen. Both sides had to contribute for a new middle ground to be reached. Does this suggest a balance between society and individuality? How independent can one be, because society can't be all that bad? Like how the mind is a good tool to use, as long as we dont allow it to go into overdrive.
Does Pearl play as a factor in Hester's actions? Could Hester be trying to conform to pave a better, brighter future for Pearl? Perhaps Hester does not want her actions to influence and affect the life of her daughter. Then this becomes an exception. Or is it really? Perhaps Hawthorne wants to point out why conforming might be the more considerate, altrulistic thing to do. Or just that you can't totally detach yourself from society. Humans are communal and are therefore to some degree affected by a society. How much freedom are we actually given? Are there not still some social rules we need to abide because the world does not revolve around just one person?
And nature releases our boundaries, as we mentioned in class.

edit: I suddenly realized during English class today that I had spelled Ahab's name wrong throughout this entire post. My apologies. But thank you very much, Henning, for also seeing my huge mistake. [I have gone back and corrected it now]. Sorry for any confusions this caused!! [ad no wonder something felt weird as I was typing this up.]
But back to the discussion!
elephant
Joyce, aside from your editing error - and yes, thanks Henning for your fine administrative/moderation/particpation and leadership, absolutely - your interpretive work here is indicative of mastery of much of the key interpreting curriculum culminating here. Excellent work.
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