Tag Archives: Herman Melville

Moby-Dick the Reptile

Our Moby-Dick Marathon may be done for 2013, but the influence of the story and its eternally metaphorical whale continue.  A recently discovered species of unpigmented skink, in the island country of Madagascar, is being nicknamed the Moby Dick mermaid skink. However, nicknames / common names, often change from language to language. For example, what we call cod, the Portuguese call bacalhau, the French call morue and the Norwegians call torsk. What doesn’t change is the scientific name. For the cod, that would be Gadus morhua. This new skink will forever have the white whale’s moniker attached to it no matter what language is used. It has been given the scientific name Sirenoscincus mobydick.  I’d like to thank Brandon Walecka for sending this story from Cosmos magazine to us.

This may be the first scientific name to include Moby-Dick. But, it’s not the first to include something from Herman Melville. There is a recently discovered species of fossil (and fearsome) sperm whale that in 2010 was given the name Livyatan melvillei. If you sound out the genus name, you’ll understand why the name was chosen…and that taxonomists have a sense of humor. Case in point, the scientific name for the blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus. This can translate into muscular winged whale. It can also translate into winged whale mouse.

Moby-Dick Marathon, Jan. 4-6

MDM17_ButtonThe New Bedford Whaling Museum’s 17th annual Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece with a 25-hour nonstop public reading of the book during a weekend of activities and events, January 4 – 6, 2013. This year’s marathon is generously sponsored in part by Rockland Trust and the Empire Loan Charitable Foundation. Admission is free to the marathon and museum galleries during the event. Donations are gratefully accepted.

On Friday, January 4 at 5:30 p.m. the weekend kicks off with a ticketed buffet dinner and cash bar in the Jacobs Family Gallery. For tickets to the dinner ($29), call (508) 997-0046 ext. 100.

Dinner will be followed by a free public lecture titled Moby-Dick in Pictures: A Drawing For Every Page, presented by artist Matt Kish, at 7:15 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater. In 2009, the Ohio artist began creating an image a day based on text selected from every page of Moby-Dick. The work, which took 18 months complete, utilizes a wide variety of mixed media, to create “a visual masterpiece that echoes the layers of meaning in Melville’s narrative.”

On Saturday, January 5 at 10:00 a.m., Stump the Scholars, returns by popular demand – a free program in which the audience is invited to pose questions to Melville Society scholars on all matters Moby-Dick in the Cook Memorial Theater. Patterned after a popular public radio quiz show, a prize will be awarded to those who can stump the scholars.  Questions may be submitted  in advance at mdmarathon@whalingmuseum.org or posed just prior to the program.

At 11:30 a.m. in the Bourne Building, Melville Society members will read many of the 80 brief Extracts related to whales and whaling, which Melville included before Chapter 1.

At noon, the Moby-Dick Marathon begins with “Call me Ishmael.” – the most famous opening line in American literature, read by retired Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. With more than 160 scheduled readers, the marathon will continue through the night, ending early Sunday afternoon.

All reading slots have been booked. The public is cordially invited to come and go at any time during the marathon, or stay for the entire 25 hours and win a prize.

For the first time in the marathon’s history, a sight impaired participant will read from a Braille edition of the book.

On Saturday at approximately 1:30 p.m., marathon participants will walk next door to the historic Seamen’s Bethel (est. 1832) – located at 15 Johnny Cake Hill for the reading of Chapters  7, 8, and 9, titled “The Chapel,” The Pulpit,” and “The Sermon”  – all three chapters take place in the original “Whaleman’s Chapel.”  This segment will feature a performance by Gerald P. Dyck. Vocalist, composer and longtime music director of the New Bedford Choral Society, Mr. Dyck, holds a Master of Sacred Music degree from the Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music.

Culture*Park, a regional performing arts collaborative, will stage Chapter 40, “Midnight, Forecastle” in the Cook Memorial Theater.

Guests are also invited to the Wattles Family Gallery to chat with Melville scholars on Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and with Melville artist, Matt Kish from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. On Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., meet Melville artist, Jason Hancock in the Centre Street Gallery (main level) where his contemporary works inspired by Moby-Dick are on exhibit.

The Museum’s website will provide livestreaming throughout the weekend. Tweet the marathon with hashtag #MDM17 and @whalingmuseum.

Related exhibits to see during the marathon include A Voyage Around the World: Cultures Abroad, Cultures at Home.

Images related to the book will also be projected in the Cook Memorial Theater throughout the marathon, presented by the Museum’s youth apprentices.

A midwinter tradition, attracting hundreds of Moby-Dick fans from around the world,

the marathon marks the anniversary of Melville’s January 1841 departure from the port of New Bedford and Fairhaven aboard the whale ship, Acushnet.

Refreshments will be available for sale throughout the Marathon.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world’s most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city’s historic downtown.

Moby-Dick Marathon Weekend Schedule of Events

Friday, January 4

5:30 p.m.: Ticketed buffet dinner, Jacobs Family Gallery (cash bar: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)

7:15 p.m.: Public lecture, “Moby-Dick in Pictures: A Drawing for Every Page,” with artist Matt Kish, Cook Memorial Theater.

Saturday, January 5

10:00 a.m.: Stump the Scholars, Cook Memorial Theater.

11:30 a.m.: The Moby-Dick Extracts, read by the Melville Society, Bourne Building.

12:00 noon: Moby-Dick Marathon begins, BourneBuilding.

1:30 p.m. (approx.): Chapters 7– 9 in the Seamen’s Bethel with Gerald P. Dyck.

2:30 p.m. (approx.): Marathon continues, Jacobs Family Gallery.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Chat with a Melville scholar, Wattles Family Gallery.

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.: Chat with Melville artist, Matt Kish, Wattles Family Gallery.

7:00 p.m. (approx.): Chapters 35 – 40. “Midnight, Forecastle” performed by Culture*Park, Cook Memorial Theater.

8:00 p.m. (approx.): Marathon continues, Jacobs Family Gallery.

Sunday, January 6

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.: Chat with Melville artist, Jason Hancock, Centre Street Gallery.

9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Chat with a Melville scholar, Wattles Family Gallery.

1:00 p.m. (approx.): Marathon concludes with the Epilogue.