The Act of Reading (2021) Movie Script

God speaks to Hagar
about her son Ishmael.
And God says to her,
"He will be called a wild man,"
"and the world's hand
will be against him."
Yeah? You want me
to run through that one
one more time for you?
The point is that in that,
Melville starts with.
"Call me Ishmael."
So what do know
about our narrator
from three words?
That he's...
That he is...
He's considered a wild man.
That he feels like
the whole world
is against him.
Yipes. Three words.
Really, Hebert?
Is the rest of this book
gonna be this way?
Yeah. Okay.
"Though I cannot tell
"why it was exactly
that those stage managers,
"the Fates, put me down
"for this shabby part
of a whaling voyage yet,
"now that I recall the circumstances,
"I think I can see a little
into the springs and motives,
"which, being cunningly presented to me
"under various disguises,
"induced me to set about
performing the part that I did
"besides cajoling me
into the delusion
that it was a choice"
"resulting from
my own unbiased free will
and discriminating judgment."
That's a long sentence.
That is one long sentence.
Do you understand what he just said?
Yeah, you missed me with that.
Pshew, pshew!
So Melville is saying,
"Now that I look back on it,
"all these choices I thought I was making"
"are actually not choices at all!
"I thought I was choosing,
but now that I look at it,
"I wasn't choosing at all."
"I'm fated."
He's just sitting around,
whispering in our ears,
"We're fated.
We're fated. We're fated."
We think we have a choice,
but we don't really have a choice.
What we're doing in this life
is because that's what
we're supposed to do.
Okay. Yeah?
Darlings, we're so fated
that this book is told in flashback.
Everything that we read
has already happened.
We can't change it.
And, darlings,
there's also that wink
and that nudge from Melville.
Because no matter when in time
we pick up this book...
Ishmael is always about to go
to sea...
and so are we.
So I wanted to tell you a little bit
about why I came upon doing this project.
I happened to be readingMoby-Dick,
and I felt like I need
to contact Janet Werner,
not for a sentimental reason,
but I realized I also had
this thing like Ahab did.
He's got this thing in his past
that he has to reencounter.
Hi! How ya doin'?
Boy, you look great!
You really do! Come on in!
And then I read the book, and I felt like
it had sort of opened up
something for me.
Like it was some kind of a...
Like a weird transformation.
And so, I wanted to encounter you
because I didn't know what would happen
if I talked to you again about it.
Oh! Okay.
I kinda wanna go through
that process of figuring out
what the teacher-student
relationship is
around literature...
Okay., because I think
you understand it really well.
I had had a very good experience
with your older sister,
you know, and some...
How you're...
And I'm not saying that,
you know, a bad experience
with an older sibling would...
This is... This is...
This is my cell phone.
Oh, watch out!
-Sorry there.
-Did I break that?
-No, it's okay.
I don't even know
where it is... Oh, here.
You know what?
This isn't even...
It's okay. She'll call me...
I hope she doesn't call me back.
But a lot... Did I break this?
-No, it's okay.
-I fell... Shit.
Let me see.
Can I hear you talk now?
No? Still going.
You think
it's all right? Okay.
-It's metal as can be.
You know, you feel a certain regret
when you can't, um, help people
to create a path that's workable,
at least temporarily for them.
High school's a difficult time, man.
Yeah, it is. Don't you think?
I can only imagine
as a teacher trying to...
Yes, but he did come back,
and he did share with me
that he felt it was a good experience
not doing well in the class.
Because he said he felt it woke him up.
But I just hate to see that
having to happen to anyone.
I have another opener downstairs
if this doesn't work.
Why are you all dressed up?
-I'm always dressed like this.
Well, Happy New Year.
Happy New Year!
Like, all the papers came back
filled with notes.
-Oh, wow.
-I have them.
I even have the letter of recommendation
that she wrote for me
when I was going to college.
She didn't write one for me.
But now, we're friends,
so now I get to hang out
with her all the time.
How many years later?
Fifteen years.
And then,
I decided that I needed
the Norton Critical Edition.
-Because this has like...
Like loads of stuff in it.
All kinds of stuff.
You've gotta have
the letters to Hawthorne.
-That's... That's
pretty important.
-Yeah, yeah.
But, has anyone read a really good book
that they feel has changed their lives?
It's not like, you know, you read a book,
and then, suddenly you go
in a different direction.
Well, that happens for Mark.
I probably had a huge act to follow
with my sister going along this course.
Aw, so I should have heard
what you were saying and said,
"Take a little more time
to do what you have to do."
No, I think you were giving me time.
Oh, okay.
Okay, all right. Okay.
You gave me time,
and, no, you were very liberal
with me because...
Maybe that wasn't good.
Maybe I should have been more...
More authoritarian. Like my dad.
But do you remember
these scenes that we had
in the hallway
before class sometimes and I like...
I didn't want to talk to you
'cause I still didn't have
this paper yet.
And then you'd stop me
before coming in...
Do you remember those?
God, those I don't remember.
I must've blocked them out.
Where's that, um, binder that I gave you
of all the letters you wrote to me?
'Cause I think there might be
some about Mark.
Because I was in Paris, then.
Studying abroad.
Oop, this is it.
"I would absolutely love to see you"
"but I have a big problem
with Mark."
They were gonna come
visit me in France. In Paris.
-But, because of him...
you ruined the trip.
"His grades have sunk
in two important subjects,
"and he has lied,
claiming that he is studying
"and just can't do the tests.
"He is on probation
for acting so stupidly,
"and I am upset beyond comprehension."
"He needs some common sense not
beat into him."
Do you have any other
specific memories of me
from that... from that year?
My biggest memory
was after the last grades were handed in.
And you came in...
Meaning the end
of the school year.
The grades had already been handed in.
And you came in with some papers
that you wanted to get credit for,
for the marking period,
maybe fourth marking period.
It might've made a difference
in whether ya...
Whether you, um, passed
for the year or not.
And I couldn't accept them,
because the grades
had already been handed in.
And I felt terrible about that.
Here's Mom's letter that I had from her.
So, to me, like,
even a grade in my stupid...
Well, not my "stupid class,"
but my class,
is not the most important thing
because look, you know,
you're living proof of that, in my view.
You know, I consider you to be,
you know, kind of an intellectual.
Oh, hi, Janet?
I just wanted to call and thank you
for having us over yesterday.
It was really great.
Oh, thank you.
That's very nice.
I hope I can be helpful
in whatever it is
that you're doing.
I went to breakfast
with some of my friends today
and they were all asking me about it
because they knew
we had that appointment.
And I told them how well you...
You turned out so well!
In my view.
Like, you know?
You know, you're serious,
you're dedicated.
You're the complete package.
So that's great.
Well, thanks. I like being
called a "complete package."
I hope the rest
of your research goes well.
-I hope so, too.
Anyway, I guess what would be...
What would be helpful
for me to think of, at least,
is as I sort of continue
doing this research
that this is somehow,
uh, the book report or presentation
that I should've done for you.
Oh, yes. And don't even...
Don't even be thinking about that.
- Because I'm thinking...
-No, I wanna think about it.
That's what I'm telling you.
I'm not gonna lie to you, sweethearts.
This is not an easy read.
If you took it to the beach to read it,
the only purpose for doing that
is because you wanted
a really bad sunburn.
It's partly a book about whales,
it's partly a theological meditation,
only tied to characters
in certain places.
Getting through Moby-Dick
gives readers membership
in a kind of cohort, or club.
One finds a little disturbing
as well as exhilarating
the sense, for many readers,
that the book was written for them.
Welcome to the
21st Annual Moby-DickMarathon.
Welcome, everybody.
Marathoners must
read aloud an average of
141.8 words per minute
to complete the book on time.
Good luck!
We've got tough vocabulary,
tough sentence structure,
and sweetie-pies, tough ideas.
How many of you can ride a skateboard?
Oh, my.
This is going to get you
where you can go voop
and flip it and go back down
and come back up and flip it again.
Okay? This is tougher reading.
Now, we welcome to the stage
the great-great-grandson
of Herman Melville.
No pressure, Peter!
Excuse us.
"Call me Ishmael."
Your great-grandfather
said he wrote the gospels
of his century.
And he wrote a wicked book
and felt spotless as a lamb.
And so I'm...
I'm caught up on this idea
that he's seen
the annihilating force
behind everything.
What if Ahab experienced that
when he had his first encounter
with Moby-Dick?
'Cause he talks about whiteness too,
as a kind of like,
clean-slate kind of blankness
that's kind of scary, right?
'Cause it's like
you're letting go of everything.
It's one of my mottos in life
that people are secretly
extremely afraid of freedom.
-They are?
Can you explain that
a little bit?
What do you mean?
A lot of this is going to be me,
Peter Gansevoort Whittemore,
talking about my family lineage.
And there's a lot of DNA
that I feel akin
to Melville with.
Sometimes I read Moby-Dick and I say,
"Nobody else would understand me
like he would."
-'Cause I think the same things.
So I stand here talking to you
about my family,
but there's a Peter inside me
watching me do this.
-That says...
I'm not just a product of my family.
I'm also this independent spark
of consciousness
-that we all are.
But if you were to let go
of all your, what...
-"My family keeps me together."
What happens when you don't have
any family anymore?
Who are you then?
"Well, my history keeps me together."
"My culture keeps me together."
What if you could really
stand free of all that?
And say, "Who am I really?"
"A stove boat will make me an immortal,
my brethren.
"Yes, there is death
in this business of whaling,
"a speechlessly quick,
chaotic bundling of a man
into eternity.
"But what then?
"Methinks we have hugely mistaken
"this matter of life and death.
"Methinks that what they call
my shadow here on Earth
"is my true substance.
"Methinks that in looking
at things spiritual,
"we are too much like oysters,
"observing the sun through the water,
"and thinking that thick water
the thinnest of air.
"Methinks my body is
but the lees
of my better being."
"In fact, take my body who will,
take it, I say, it is not me."
In some way he's trying to say,
you know, "Take my body, please!"
"'Cause that's not who I am."
That paragraph
is unbelievable metaphysics
about what's the nature of who it is
that's even asking
the question, "Who am I?"
-Who wants to know?
Well, damn, ain't that a question, too?
The story is a story of waking up...
-Right., um,
an essential nature of who we are
that Melville was really
struggling with all his life.
Were you looking at that
as a foreshadow quote?
No, I was just trying
to figure out what it meant.
What about, "Finally I always
go to sea as a sailor",
"because..." Right?
No help? Need no help?
- Not yet.
Not yet?
That's fabulous.
Um, then it says,
"Methinks that in looking
at things spiritual,
"we are too much like oysters,
"observing the sun through the water"
"and thinking that thick water
the thinnest of air."
"Since it is but well to be
on friendly terms"
"with all the inmates
of the place one lodges in."
So he's saying that
he wants to be friendly
with people who, like,
don't want the friendliness
and he's social, and he's ready
for an adventure.
Place the right foot
in between your two hands.
Release the hands as you
continue to lift the legs.
And then from here,
we'll see if we can roll back
onto your shoulder blades.
It's like a super-late
book report, film-form,
um, for his high school English teacher
because he didn't read it in high school
-and failed the class.
-Shut up!
-He failed?
-Yeah, he failed American Lit.
Okay, take a second.
Lift your ribs
for just a second.
See if you can come back up.
So you know that Herman Melville
was my great-great-great-grandfather?
And then in school,
everybody hated Moby-Dick,
so I... You know, you really
didn't want to tell
your classmates that,
"Oh, yeah, well,
my great-great-grandfather
wrote that thing."
"Shut up!"
I wrote this play based
on Herman Melville,
also called Poor Herman that's, um...
Yeah, that I've been working on.
That's so weird!
He has to meet you. This is...
-Yeah, I would really like
to meet him.
-Oh, my God.
I also made the play
about Herman Melville's wife
and daughters
and I wrote my gender,
yeah, into the...
into the family.
Do you, like, resemble Melville at all?
Um, well, some people say in my family,
this, like, cheekbone-eye thing.
Um, I think...
He's like, broad
through the chest
and sort of high cheeks.
Everybody said he was handsome.
So I like to think I resemble him.
I don't know, if I have a big beard...
Or you know, I'm not...
I'm not so large.
But in my heart, I'm like a big man.
-Melville was ill at the time.
-He had a form of the flu.
And when he was found by a local tribe,
he was near death,
and they nursed him
back to life.
They offered him a membership
in the tribe.
Sadly, it would mean
for him being tattooed from head to foot.
So he said "No, thank you."
And they said "It's not a problem."
"We understand.
But we're so fond of you,
"we're going to offer you
the other option."
"We're going to elevate you
to the top of the menu."
They were a cannibal tribe.
He ran off again.
He decided to visit
old family friends, the Shaws.
Lemuel Shaw was by now the Chief Justice
of the Massachusetts
Judicial Supreme Court,
and he had sons,
and he had a daughter
named Elizabeth.
Elizabeth fell in love with Herman.
Lizzie could have married any doctor,
any lawyer, any judge,
but Herman came back from being overseas,
and he was like hot, and tan, and built.
So she's like, "That guy."
He was a very handsome man.
Five-foot-ten, sturdy,
broad-shouldered with a tan,
and apparently,
a beautiful speaking voice.
Very mesmerizing.
She told her father
she was going to marry him,
and her father said, "Absolutely not."
"This is a man
with no money, no education.
"He's been a sailor for five years"
"and you know what they do."
And he said, "This is
not a possible marriage."
"How is he going to
support you?"
She said, "Well,
he's going to be a writer."
And her father said,
"Exactly, how is he going to
support you?"
So the play finds Herman ready
to move to Pittsfield,
frustrated by his lack of success,
and he's gonna, um...
He's gonna write Moby-Dick.
So this is sort of like...
Almost like a prologue scene.
You should be Poor Herman.
Yeah, we should do that.
I never have really gotten
to act in it before.
That would be fun.
And, Alissa you should be,
uh, Herman's wife.
She's also never really acted before.
I acted when I was a kid.
I just, you know, got stage fright once
and then never did it again.
I just had a dream with the answer in it.
We must move to the country!
Oh, too many people here
making god-awful noise!
Spewing nonsense from their blowholes
such that I cannot think straight!
Without stimulation,
what will you write about?
On this island,
my writing lies stuck inside me.
I can't see my inner forest
through the smog of the city.
Like a corseted woman at a banquet,
I am starved and squished,
and bound too tight
to even taste a morsel.
If the Harper Brothers forget you,
who will publish you then?
The field mice, and the summer squash?
Nathaniel Hawthorne does fine for himself
without pounding this Manhattan pavement
like a draft horse at death's door.
You wish to be Nathaniel Hawthorne?
Would you still love me?
We just left Boston.
Everyone will think
you can't hack it here.
Why, I was born on this island,
and I'll come and go from it as I please.
Just as soon as I take root,
you pluck me up.
Far better it is to cover ground
than be buried in it!
Why, I've sailed and swum
and searched this Earth
to its antipodes!
My dear Lizzie,
we may share a bed and a roof,
but as you put down roots,
I put up sails!
If we are to make do,
you must make ends meet.
We can't go now!
I've already borrowed the money
from your father
as a loan against your inheritance.
I'm writing a light-hearted take
on the whaling industry.
How can it not sell?
How much do you already owe the Harpers
for advances never recouped?
Here, I write in great haste,
dizzied by distraction.
In the country,
I will write in slow-motion.
There, my dear Lizzie,
I will write something
worthy of your struggle.
With his last words,
I am ousted from the argument
before I can tell him.
He'll soon need to write for three.
Initially, there was a little unrest.
His wife was not happy
with the physical layout
of the house.
She wanted to take out
the central chimney,
which is mammoth,
um, and replace it with a grand
front hall and staircase.
Melville immortalized
that battle in his work,
1856 work, I And My Chimney.
This is the singular
most important sentence,
and it's how Melville saw his future.
"I and my chimney
are settling together."
He saw himself as an old man,
sitting here in front of the fireplace,
enjoying all that he had
brought together in this place.
And that sadly never happened.
Was manic-depressiveness
in the Melville lineage?
It would seem so.
His father certainly
went through very heavy
depressive phases.
Brought him to his early death.
His son, Malcolm,
ultimately committed suicide,
shooting himself in the head
with his service revolver.
-Oh, dear.
-Yeah, not the...
Not the action of a happy man.
Does that still continue?
Do your cousins still have,
like, issues with up and down?
I wasn't gonna bring up
my mother,
but now that you mention it.
Um, you can see it.
Yeah, they're a dark family.
They're a very dark family.
We should move on into the...
Um, the guest parlor.
The north parlor.
Let's do that.
Thank you for that home's information.
Yeah, it's an interesting way to...
Do I need to do
anything special to log in?
Well, don't sign up now.
Wait 'til later
'cause it will just confuse everything.
-Okay, okay and is...
-That's too far ahead.
We're gonna go
grab something to eat
and come back.
-And then I think I'll...
-Okay, well then decide
to do it then.
-Okay, cool.
-As a teacher
of language and literature and acting,
you have to lift that language
off the page,
put it in the air,
and put an electric charge
into it.
I had always kind of had that approach,
but Moby-Dickgave me
a chance to take it
to another level.
How late are you staying?
-All night!
-You're all night?
All right, well, we'll be back.
Good evening, everyone.
My name is Ricardo Pitts-Wiley
and in 2007,
I took on a project
of adapting Moby-Dick
for the stage.
...stop my singing
in this world,
but to cut my throat!
And in this matter of the whale
be the front of thy face to me
as the palm of this hand!
There was an upper deck
that was the Pequod.
Ricardo, can I stop you right there?
Can you address the camera?
I absolutely can.
Okay, I'm so used to speaking.
-Yeah, an actor!
You know. All right.
It was necessary to create
two different environments.
An environment that actually
did Melville's work,
which was on the upper deck.
But then I had to create
a parallel world,
a young crew, a gang,
on a vengeance quest of their own.
This is for my homies.
This is for my homies.
I didn't change much of Melville.
Melville had written beautifully.
So, just put the words
in the character's mouths.
But the young crew, we had to...
I had to adjust the language
to tell that story.
But then I had to...
They had to add
their own flavor to it.
After the read-through,
Ricardo looks at us and he goes,
"Young people, just
to let y'all know, I'm old!"
"If there's any of the language
in here that's...
"That's out of date or doesn't match,"
"you let me know,
and we'll adjust it and fix it."
And I joke on him,
because it was one part
where I told him he made us sound like...
villains on Shaft, like...
I thought we was goin' to
talk about jive turkeys
and all this!
So I joke on him
and he tells a great story about...
He'd get excited
whenever one of them was like,
"All right.
You good on that one.
You good on that one."
He's like, "Yes, I'm cool!"
You know what I admired about Ricardo?
Was that his hands were
strong when I dapped him up.
Because it made me feel like,
if something pops off,
Ricardo could probably
knock somebody out.
That was what I admired about him!
I was like, "Yo, his hands
are mad strong!"
Like, he was probably fighting.
He's cool! He's cool!
Like, he understands.
You know what I mean?
So it was like...
Which is stupid, in retrospect,
but that was...
That was where my head was at that time.
When I met Rudy,
a teacher of his
called the theater one day
and said, "I've got this student."
"I think he's got something,
but he's not doing well
in school."
"Can you come talk to him?"
He was like...
He gave me an assignment.
He said, "Get a copy
of Taming of the Shrew."
"Read it. And when you're done,
call me."
See, this is when
you know you've got something.
About a week later,
he called me and said,
"Man, I'm struggling with this."
"I'm only about halfway
through it."
But he called me.
So I said, "Well, come on in."
"You'll be
my assistant director."
No, I was the assistant stage manager.
Assistant stage manager!
-Don't put me
that high up!
But he literally made up a job for me,
so that I could just be there.
He just wanted me there,
and I remember the first reading,
just sitting there
and listening to everybody
read through the script,
and I remember something
in the back of my mind
just telling me, like,
"Yo, Rudy, don't mess this up.
"Something's here.
I don't know what it is."
"But there's something here.
Don't mess it up."
So every once in a while,
an actor wouldn't be there,
and he'd have to read his part.
So I'm listening, I'm going,
"He can read!"
"The lights rise on Ishmael."
"So me and my crew,
we call ourselves "The One."
"We are young and tough,
"well-organized and well-armed.
"Everything was cool until Pip,
"the crew leader's little brother,
"decided to take some of our product"
"and sell it himself."
I never followed, like,
the punctuation rules.
I would kinda read too fast
'cause I just wanna get it over with.
This will be a lesson for
all future project directors.
When you get too big
to pick up the hammer,
you're too small to work in the theatre.
"We try not to get too close
to anybody but each other."
"Which is all we have,
most of the time."
I always knew how to
read the words. I just...
It was comprehending the text
that I always had
a problem with.
I have a responsibility as an actor.
So I felt like it was my job
to really understand it,
word for word.
The typeface seem
a little small forMoby-Dick.
What, you think
because it'sMoby-Dick,
it should be bigger?
I didn't think it all.
I don't...
I don't read, so I don't think.
Well, I think you should read Moby-Dick.
It's like all about the water.
But I know what I know about the water.
I don't want another
person's version of the water.
I just want the idea,
and I wanna walk away from it.
I don't... I don't wanna
get stuck in something.
But you knew what
all the good comic books were,
so at least you read those.
I didn't ever really
read the comic books.
We were never born to read,
and that slender sentence
holds an entire history
within it.
Um, the reality is that
most people believe that
reading is something
that the brain has that unfolds
just like language of vision.
It is anything but true.
Reading is an unnatural act.
It's a gift for you. I bought it
at Point Reyes Books...
-Thank you. Point Reyes.
Does it have a receipt in it?
So no, the brain was never meant to read,
and indeed, it is changing as we speak,
the brain is, uh, this amazing organ
that is capable of creating new circuits.
So reading is basically
a brand-new circuit
for the brain.
A little child has a very basic circuit
and can decode words.
But over time, the processes move
from basically perceiving print
to binding perception
with cognition in ever more
elaborate ways.
And all these processes change
what is read to what is thought.
So really, the act of reading
is the change from perception
to cognition,
and that changes the circuitry over time.
It changes the reader itself.
We literally change with reading.
How did that make you feel?
That I wanted a coffee.
I was thinking about coffee
the whole time.
Okay, let's go get a coffee.
I can't read out loud.
I never read out loud.
-Well, do you usually
read in your head?
-I don't...
'Cause when you read
in your head, you weren't
very cooperative, Kris.
'Cause then when
I read in my head,
I don't read linear.
I skim.
What are you working on, Rory?
Um, I'm drawing Popo's kitchen.
And who's Popo?
Popo's my bear
that goes to Take Flight
with me and has dyslexia.
I love it.
Can you put Popo
somewhere in his house?
Mm-hm. Hm.
He can't really fit in there.
So every time we sat down
with anything letter-related,
it was just like
a whole new lesson every time.
Every time.
And so it was just
the repetition of having
to start over again from scratch
was our first sign.
And then as a teacher myself,
and watching my other daughter
learn to read,
just kind of the natural signs
that you see
where they're trying to read
what's in their environment
and trying to sound out things,
uh, Rory was really stuck
with it at like, one level
for a very, very, very long time.
"Hurrying down to"
"a tourist?"
"Ch... Ikens..."
Are you on the next page?
Do you want to try one more page
maybe by yourself?
It looks all weird,
and it's like the letters
are like, doubling
and they're like jumping
and like, flipping over
and stuff.
And it gives me a headache,
and there's like all these
big words that are,
like, confusing.
And so, it's really annoying
and hard when I try to read.
One of the more amazing aspects
of my work is to understand
that our individuals
with dyslexia have a different
brain organization.
One that's been with us
for all the 50,000 years
that we have been on this Earth
as homo sapiens
but one that organizes
language differently.
Especially written language.
So when a dyslexic individual is reading,
they are going to actually activate areas
in the right hemisphere
and hold on to them
in a way that makes
a kind of delay
in how fast they process that word.
"If your caravan happened to be supplied
"with a metaphysical professor."
"Yes, as everyone knows,
Meditation and water
are wedded forever."
"Meditation and water
are wedded forever."
I love going to stores
and seeing letters backwards.
That makes it much more,
you know, readable.
But you're not...
you're not dyslexic.
-You never...
-Oh, I am.
-You are?
-Oh, yeah.
-Oh yeah, when I write...
When I type my notes,
if I just type without thinking,
every other word will be backwards.
-It's really interesting.
-Oh, so you are dyslexic.
No one ever told me anything.
They just bounced me from room to room.
And now,
everyone's concerned about,
you know, labels and stuff.
It's like, "Okay, if you want
to call me dyslexic, call me..."
you know...
-That's fine.
-That doesn't help me.
Well, it could be different.
I mean, I could probably find
a backwards Moby-Dick
-for dyslexics or something.
-Uh... It's too late.
The early circuit has to...
has to form,
you know, the connections,
has to repurpose these neurons,
and then, has to become
so automatic and fluent
by around third or fourth grade
that the thinking stuff
-really can become hinged.
And that becomes a new,
thinking reader. Or not.
And that's another story
that you may or may not
want for this
but that fourth grade
is what I call "the black hole
of American education."
If the kids aren't fluent enough
by then, if the circuit's
not automatic enough by then,
the "deep reading" processes
that are so important
to complex,
sophisticated thinking,
they don't get hooked together.
Okay, Rory, let's do Take Flight.
Let's put this away.
-"Wink," "pink," "pink."
-"Pink," "thunk," "pink."
"Hank." "Sunk."
It's all right.
-"Trunk," "hunk"
"Hank," "Think."
Across the book,
you get characters looking
in the water,
and you are told what they see.
That reveals something
about the character.
Sometimes looking in the water
is a mirror back to them.
Sometimes looking in the water
is piercing to the depths.
Strikingly, toward the end of the book
and looking in the water
is seeing Moby-Dick
rise up to the surface.
we have to say hi
to your daughter now.
There's pie inside.
I mean she doesn't talk that much.
She's only, you know,
five-and-a-half months.
Oh, does... does she gurgle?
She can make a some gurgles.
She's kind of a little
whiny right now, actually.
Okay, well, put her on speakerphone.
All right, Annalise, say hi.
Say hi!
-Oh! Hi.
-Hi, Annalise.
Say something else.
Does she know "hi"
through a phone? Hi.
Hi, PJ.
I mean,
it just seems like
the timing is right, and...
Yes, it's a dramatic and drastic change.
But I think we are a good partnership.
And I'm looking forward
to see what we can do together.
It's like a new, like,
experiment, adventure.
She loves books.
She loves books?
They got the pictures,
they're hard.
Reading is kind of...
But she likes...
-Well, there's pie inside.
-Oh, there is pie?
-Yeah. There's pie, peach pie.
She's really not...
she's sometimes a little chattier.
Luck of the draw with the baby.
Before you wanted to have a kid,
were there certain things
you wanted to do with your life?
Um, sure. I mean, that's...
Maybe it's because I've decided
that you don't
have to do all those things...
Cause that's part of my problem,
is that there are
all these things I...
I mean, even now,
constantly decide I want to do.
Or regret not having done.
There are lots of things
I regret not having done.
And you just can't continue to regret
the lives you could have had forever.
yes, having a child
puts a huge wrench in any...
in some plans I may have had.
But they are plans that
I need to just let go because,
they weren't going to happen.
I haven't acted on them.
it would be...
It could be a way of letting go.
When he moved here,
he had written a book called,
The Whale
which was based on the adventure
of the whaleship Essex
which was capsized
by a giant whale
in the Pacific
- when Melville
was only one year old.
But after meeting Nathaniel Hawthorne,
basically scuttled the book
and rewrote it as Moby-Dick.
Oh, now what, Augusta?
Oh, you've come back.
Oh, my dear Hawthorne.
I had pretty much made up
my mind to be annihilated,
but now, you're here.
I've always appreciated
your enthusiastic greetings,
Oh it's you that titillates me
till I'm a giddy schoolgirl!
Shall I carry your books as we stroll?
Like that fated day we met in Berkshire.
Oh that fated day that brought me here
to live a stone's throw
from you. And now,
only old Mount Greylock
stands between our two abodes.
How I love to watch you
come down that mountain.
But, today your descent eluded me.
And how I came day after day
as you made for me
one Moby-Dick.
That's why we reside here in Berkshire.
So we might write wicked books
that need not be laced
with rose petals.
You are my lifeboat
as I've walked the plank.
Speak not another word until I...
light your pipe.
The physical affair between
Herman and Nathaniel
seems highly unlikely
since Nathaniel hated
to be touched.
And you can have
a psychological affair
with someone
but you can't touch them,
you can't have
a physical affair.
-So there's rumors out there
that Nathaniel and Herman had...
-A love affair.
-...a love affair?
It's so eloquently
put into words by Melville.
You gotta say,
"Well, who's kidding who?"
But whether or not
they actually had
a physical relationship,
I don't think anybody can verify it.
But Hawthorne was gorgeous.
He was when he was young.
He was everything Melville
wasn't in a way.
But Melville was everything he wasn't.
Right. They were two
total opposites.
-Which usually attract, right?
Monument Mountain where Melville...
uh, first met
Nathaniel Hawthorne
and became friends with him.
And when he met
Nathaniel Hawthorne,
they uh... they had a picnic,
and Hawthorne convinced him
to take Moby-Dick
into like a very
different direction
than he ended up,
uh, when that... when he...
And then they all recited poetry.
-Oh! To Herman Melville.
-To Herman Melville.
Took my last pill yes...
Well, no. Yesterday,
should have been the last day.
But, I forgot.
So, I'm off my pills.
I'm not ready to be a father.
I'm not ready to have a child.
And financially, I'm not ready.
Emotionally, I'm not ready.
You're not ready.
We're never going to be ready, Mark.
I think you're kind of coming at it
for the wrong reasons.
I don't know what
the right reasons
are supposed to be, Mark.
What do you think
the right reasons are, then?
I mean, isn't this enough?
Like, can't we just
be a couple for a little bit?
We have been.
I don't understand when the...
You're a creative person,
but you don't let yourself
be creative
because you're afraid,
and that, like,
the path of least resistance
is making a baby
which, you know,
I think is every woman's right
to do, but, like,
if you have other things you can do,
I think you should do them, too.
You know, really shitty for you
to like... I mean...
You could try a little harder, Mark.
I'm sorry that was so mean.
No, that's okay.
If you're feeling it.
Look, I'm trying to tell you
that you have the right
to be impatient and angry with me.
Because I am.
Because I am impatient,
and I am angry with you.
But I don't want...
I don't want to get in the way
of what you need to do.
I'm sorry.
Are you missing a button?
Yeah, but it's been missing
since California. It's okay.
That was a chipmunk.
Oh my gosh...
-They're mating.
-They're so cute.
This bed is a Melville bed.
It was purchased for us at an auction.
There were always
at least three,
if not five people
sleeping in this room.
Herman and Lizzie,
and at least two or three
of their children.
The children were always placed
closer to the fireplace
for the additional warmth.
The difficulty of this room
isn't having children in it.
It's the door behind me.
That door leads to three more bedrooms.
Two of his sisters
were ensconced
in the outer ones
and directly behind
the head of the bed,
was Herman's mother.
This is the only door
into that suite of rooms.
So anytime anybody came in or went out,
they went by Herman in bed.
There's talk that there
must have been
an outhouse at one point.
But early on, everyone used chamber pots.
You woke up, you did what
you needed to do,
and you carried your chamber pot
through this room
to take it outside.
Could not have been pleasant.
Yeah, really.
Herman and Lizzie managed to conceive
and give birth
to three more children
in this room.
They're a very
unfortunate quartet, really.
Malcolm, as I said,
was subject to depressions
and committed suicide.
The baby of the family, Frances,
known as Fanny
is the only one who grew up,
got married, had a family
and provided us
with descendants like Peter.
Any questions about this room?
The floorboards are original
to the house.
"A certain significance
lurks in all things."
That seems to be
a key sentence for the book.
Uh, the book presents the world
as suffused,
as charged with meaning.
Um, everywhere the narrator looks,
He interprets, he manipulates,
he speculates.
It's one of the pleasures of the book.
But to me the most
interesting word in that
sentence is "lurks."
It's not "a certain significance
is in all things"
or "lies in all things"...
The world "lurks" with significance.
There's something unsettling.
There's something unsteady.
There's something ominous
about the acts
of interpretation
that the book provokes.
I got really frustrated
because I didn't understand
any of the references
or allusions to the Bible.
So I just started doing flips.
And that's kind of like an escape.
It gets my anger out,
and it resets my mood.
I don't know.
I don't get angry too often,
so it's like kind of
a special occasion when I do.
But not like the good kind of special.
I was doing double front-flip, landed.
And I was just repeating those
over and over again.
He had fractured three of the vertebrae
in the top part of his thoracic area
and two other are very suspicious.
So now he's in a neck brace,
for six weeks,
and he'll be restricted
from movement for almost
three months.
That's not good.
Is he supposed
to be wearing the neck brace
right now?
Yes, he is.
I did Queequeg.
Um, he's from Kokovoko.
He's twenty-five years old.
He's a sailor of Pequod,
and he's also Starbuck's
He likes to smoke, practice his religion.
Um, he likes to protect Ishmael,
and he's learning how to read.
You know what I realize
we forgot to talk about?
We forgot to talk about white.
The whiteness of the whale.
Pretend you live in Michigan.
What's white?
Snow. Right?
Snow is associated with...
And cold is associated with...
-And so white is symbolic of...
White looks like it's what?
The absence of color.
It looks like the absence
of color. Right?
But on the spectrum, what's the...
Thank you, sweetheart.
White is made up
of all of the colors. Right?
It looks like no color.
It's actually all color.
So it's everything.
It's everything.
And so, sweetie pies,
you know what that means?
White is everything, right?
So it's nothing.
Point to everything for me.
You got it?
-Daggoo's from where?
Tashtego's from...
Look, you act like I've read this.
No, you've read...
Yeah, I do try to act like
you've read this. Okay. So...
Maybe it's
just that nothing
in this book truly interests me.
Like, I don't care
about whaling.
I mean, it's just...
You don't care about whales?
I said I don't care about whaling.
They just like, go out to sea
and it kinda,
like, there's no plot!
Like there's no, like...
Do you agree with him
that there's too much
descriptive stuff?
It seems like we're reading
way too much into things
more than I normally would.
We had the mutiny in class,
and they were like,
"I just don't get this book!"
"It doesn't speak to me!"
"It's so much harder
than everything
I've ever had to read".
There is always that
"Why are you making us
do this?" day.
-It's about revenge.
-Is it about revenge?
-Yes, partially.
-Partially, a little bit.
It's about a lot of things
that I don't want
to think about.
Too much sauce.
Maybe if it was like, hey,
read a chapter...
Actually I don't think
it's the sauce that
it's too much of, though.
-It is, actually there's a lot.
-It's the stuff that
you have to chew up.
It overloads your system.
Imagine a chicken nugget
and dipping it
in Chick-fil-A sauce
and then dipping it
again and again.
It's too much.
Guys, Cade's turn.
It's like what Cooper said.
You're just like,
dipping a chicken nugget
all over,
over and over again.
And then you drop it
in your Coke.
They are not at all shy about telling me
what they think and telling me when
they don't think what I'm doing
is what they need.
The sauce is all the, like, repetitive,
transcendentalism, overstating,
restating, dip again,
and then you dip again
and then your chicken nugget
becomes soggy, right?
And it's just overfilled with sauce
and sauce and sauce...
and then you lose
the chicken nugget,
and it becomes all sauce!
Isn't that the point of the book?
Isn't that, like,
what he's trying to get across
'cause he makes everything,
like, confusing and descriptive,
and like, "Oh I don't want to read this
"because this is too much".
But doesn't he do that to like,
develop the idea that, like,
finding your own free will
and whatever, is, like, hard?
And like, confusing?
Like doesn't it all...
Isn't there a point to how descriptive
and confusing he is?
Okay. So sweetie pies...
I'll stand up here
and you grab your papers
as you go.
Cooper's comment about "too much sauce"
sounded a lot like
the original critics
of the novel.
Cooper's smarter than he knows.
So I've got to figure out
what I can do to make it
less saucy for them.
When the book came out,
it got such poor notices.
It's filled with other stories,
other tales.
Things that distract you
from what's going on
in the plot.
Melville's book went through
that lack of appreciation
because you never find
what's anticipated or expected.
It's always different.
I love that about all of his work.
It's as much about the reader
as it is about Melville's
creative mind.
Only true genius
enjoys the privilege
of misunderstanding.
Is that something you really believe?
Or is that just something
we like to tell ourselves?
Oh, my dear Hawthorne.
I cannot write novels
for the general public.
For the general public
relies on general generalities.
So what if they can't stomach
my Moby-Dick?
Their blasphemy is my poetry.
We should head up to the...
Yeah. We should head up
to the study.
Come on into Melville's study.
So this was the room
that Melville chose for himself
as a work room.
He loved sitting here at the window
with its view of the field
and Mount Greylock
in the distance.
Greylock was a mountain
of total fascination
for Melville.
He looked at it through his study window
and used its shape as part
of his inspiration
for the whale, Moby-Dick.
He could look at Mount Greylock
and see the dashing lights
that he assumed
were fairies dancing
on the hillside.
He wanted to be
as close to that fairy window
as he could get,
and the vision of it
that helped keep him going.
Reading Herman Melville
and I know you've
experienced it too.
You feel like he's in you in some way.
And you, probably more than I
because of a genetic link.
-More than either of us.
-More than anyone.
In a way, but once you see
what's going on,
you realize that it's deeper than blood.
-It's deeper than DNA.
-Oh, definitely.
Because there's something more true than
just the DNA would allow.
But the DNA comes
with the curse at least,
so you have that to deal with.
I don't feel cursed by this.
My father died when I was nine years old.
When I was 12, my favorite brother died.
Left my mother alone
to take care of
the three remaining kids
who were young teenagers.
And she had no basic income, really,
except to go to her mother
and beg for money.
So I grew up without my father,
without my favorite brother...
No role model.
Who am I?
Who am I?
Doesn't that question damn me?
But I'm the author
that's gonna write the book
that allows the inner soul to surface.
Breach the surface like a whale.
I'm Herman Melville.
Conveyor of the beauty
and the madness of life.
So, pumpkins,
I did not say anything
because I was angry.
There's two things that happen
when I get angry.
One of them is I speak injudiciously.
That means that I skewer people.
And I tend to do that
with my Dallas accent.
I would suggest you not talk right now.
Oh, my goodness. Okay.
So, if this is not
the book of your dreams,
I really don't give a shit.
If it doesn't speak to you,
I think it's probably a lack of effort.
Damn, she roasted you right there.
Ms. Hebert,
when I was talking about sauce,
I wasn't trying to make us
not read the book.
I was just simply expressing my opinion.
I know, baby. I know.
But see, at the end...
And that's why I let you talk.
-Do you want
to read that one, Jonas?
-Oh, I'm sorry.
Never mind. I got it.
"To trail the genealogies
of these high mortal miseries"
"carries us at last among
the sourceless primogenitures
of the Gods."
So if we follow all of this angst
and all of this pain and all of this woe
and all of this misery
back to where it started,
it's gonna take us back to God.
In other words, Ahab thinks...
...that people are miserable
because we are made in God's image and...
-God's miserable.
-...God's miserable.
"I own thy speechless
placeless power."
"But to the last gasp
of my earthquake life
"will dispute its unconditional,"
"unintegral mastery in me."
Unintegral definition.
As an adjective it means,
"necessary to make a whole complete."
"Essential or fundamental."
-Do you want to...
-Okay, so that's "integral."
So it's not necessary
to make complete. There's...
-...- prophets...
and Goddess of rain...
he has this internal conflict
and this just struggle.
And sometimes he's able
to make it go away.
But just the next day, it comes back.
You know, I feel like everyone
kind of has that.
You know, some days, like,
you're on top of the world.
But there's that one thing
that kind just really
brings you down.
And some days you can bat it away,
but other days it's kind of
more prominent.
And kind of, you know, characterizes you.
And then...
Does it bring any experiences to mind?
Uh, I mean, not...
Not really, I guess.
But whenever I was younger,
my uncle died and...
I had trouble coping with that.
And that kind of...
You know, some days
I'd be able to, you know, go,
do whatever,
be a regular kindergarten,
first grader.
And then other days, I would be
like nothing could make my day better.
I was just...
I was a sad sack on some days.
And I think that I'm not really
affected as heavily as I would be,
whenever I was younger.
And I feel that, kind of Ahab,
he's heavily affected, obviously.
I think one of the most exciting aspects,
whether we're a child or an adult,
is when we become
so immersed in the reading act
that we pass over.
We pass out of our own consciousness
and we enter the consciousness of other.
Of other time,
of another culture,
another religion.
We develop in that process,
a capacity to leave ourselves.
Reading is
far more intimate
than any other media.
It's as close as we can get
to sharing a mind
as there is any other experience
on the planet.
"His vast mild head,
overhung by a canopy of vapor,
engendered by his
incommunicable contemplations
in that vapor,
as you sometimes will see it,
glorified by a rainbow.
"As if heaven itself
had put its..."
So when you readMoby Dick,
-you're sharing
in Herman's mind...
-I share Melville's mind.
"For do you see,"
"rainbows do not visit
the clear air..."
"Rainbows do not visit
the clear air..."
"They only irradiate vapor."
"And so, through
all the thick mists
and dim doubts of my mind,
"divine intuitions now and then shoot
enkindling my fog
with a heavenly ray."
I've never wanted to be changed.
And I've never wanted to be influenced.
Is this what you say
on all your first dates?
First and last.
"I don't want to be changed,
-"and I don't want
to be influenced!"
-That's right.
That probably goes over really well.
Oh, that, yeah.
That's why I'm single.
I thought... See?
'Cause you can't get past
page five of Moby Dick?
There's no compromise.
For me.
And so,
going through this journey
is accepting a relationship.
Yeah, with Herman.
I... Yeah, I'm not dating him.
'Cause you really like
your perspective on the world,
and you want to keep it,
kind of like, fixed, right?
Like you don't want it to change?
Or maybe you feel like
you're done changing?
I'm not changed.
No, no. What do you mean,
"not changed?"
I'm the same me, who was in school.
In high school?
-Oh, yeah.
-You're the same you?
Oh. Oh, yeah.
What does that mean?
I don't know what it means.
It's raining.
It's like we're in the...
-We're in the moment.
-Why do we
have to have it real?
Why do I have to really get wet?
It's this annoying spit!
It's like
the spray from the ocean.
It's like the...
"There is your law of precedence.
"There is your utility of traditions.
"There's a story
of your obstinate survival
of old beliefs,"
"never bottomed on the Earth."
-Alissa, are you asleep?
-Are you comfy?
What was the last read you had like?
The last "read" I had?
When did I last read?
Well, I just read aloud.
-You mean before that, though.
-No, that's it!
What was the question?
Because it's in
the middle of the night,
and I'm tired.
It's like 3:00.
How do you read a book by sleeping?
You don't.
Sleeping is the opposite of reading.
"Sleeping is
the opposite of reading."
I think we're onto something there.
Actually, I wouldn't say
they are the opposite.
I would tend to think
that there would be
aspects of reading
that elicit some of the kind of imagery,
some of the kind of...
Not wild associations,
but disparate associations
that reading can sometimes activate.
So I wouldn't put them as an opposite,
but where they are different
is that sleep does not analyze.
After sleep,
we can take
those reflective powers and...
fashion insight, fashion novel thought...
that came out of dream.
I'm crying again.
Yeah, they call that
the banking model of education.
Like, you deposit meaning
into their heads,
it fills them up with meaning.
But the problem with that is,
how we find meaning,
is often constructed,
not... not received.
The meaning that's found
by the student is theirs.
You see, they have to possess it
and make it theirs,
instead of just something
that's served up.
Somebody says, "Well",
"you know, if you just remember this,"
"you're gonna be so wise."
Being wise means
that you're engaged in
the interpretation of wisdom.
Wisdom isn't a thing. Right?
Wow! This is a really beautiful
part of the river, right here.
Look at the water. Wow.
We're gonna have some waves here.
Just for safety's sake, Mark,
we're just going to go
into them, okay?
So it isn't just about yourself
and your own thoughts, but,
sort of the kind of wild joy
that comes with learning
more about yourself
and the world by, um...
What is that
off to the left there, Mark?
Is that a ledge?
That looks like a ledge, doesn't it?
To Socrates,
-education was
all about virtue. Right?
The whole purpose of gaining wisdom
was for the Gods to view you more kindly.
And if you were someone who was wise,
that wisdom
doesn't belong to you.
You had to give it back,
so that the Gods don't see you
as someone who's
greedy with wisdom, right?
Um, Mark you see off to the left here?
You can't see it from here.
There's a huge ledge
off to the left there.
We gotta get all the way
to the right.
The reality is that Socrates
had some very interesting,
and I believe still legitimate concerns.
He felt that language is alive.
And that it's the exchange.
It's the dialogue.
That, "I answer you,
you answer me."
He felt that words,
these inert things, could not talk back.
He said, "These kinds of words are dead."
"They cannot talk back."
How can we speak about language
in a way that will make the Gods happy?
I don't know.
There's an old story.
How true it is I'm not sure.
In the Egyptian city of Naucratis,
there's an ancient God.
His name is Thoth.
He was the inventor of many arts,
arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, dice.
But his greatest invention
was the use of letters.
One day, Thoth came
and showed his inventions off
to the King of Egypt.
They discussed each one,
but when it came to letters...
Oh, ingenious Thoth.
I am worried about
this discovery of yours.
By externalizing memories,
you will create a forgetfulness
in the learners' souls.
You're not offering truth,
but the appearance of truth.
The people that follow this method
will be hearers of many things,
but will have learned nothing.
They will be tiresome company,
having the show of wisdom,
without the reality.
He said, "It's not a recipe for memory."
"It's a recipe for forgetting,"
"because you will depend on this."
Reading this radical technology, to him
would give people
an illusion of knowledge
that they did not possess.
And, in our words today,
they wouldn't know what they didn't know.
Socrates is one of the best
sources of questions...
Is that a rock?
Yeah it is. Gee whiz. us in a similarly
radical transition.
His was the transition
from oral-language culture
to a literacy-based culture.
And ours is a literacy-based culture
to a digital culture with similar issues
about memory and delusions of knowledge.
I'd put it in for another,
like, 30 seconds.
Yeah, you may not know
what you want to do yet.
That is okay.
Don't create stress on yourself.
Life is stressful enough
without the stuff we manufacture
that we don't really need
to worry about yet. Okay?
So this is, backwards
from how it was before.
Yeah, it's set up differently today.
-So I used to be...
My desk was over here.
But it was facing this way, and so...
And you used to teach from...
Yeah, you used to teach
over there.
Yes, because the school was set up with
-the "green boards," as they
used to call them...
...on this side of the room
as opposed to the other side.
It was an older desk,
but it had drawers on both sides,
which I always needed.
Plus, I always liked
to stash extra books on these.
-Like here,
there's space to put books...
Which I never have enough of.
But I had to retire when I did.
My husband said,
"Janet, if you don't..."
He said...
"I don't know how much longer
you're gonna live."
He said... he said,
"You really have to,
-"you know, hang it up." Yeah.
I kind of felt bad because
I still thought I had some time.
And I actually felt...
I wasn't necessarily
getting better all the time,
-but I was hoping
I was getting better.
-Uh, maybe not more efficient,
but more knowledgeable.
And more knowledgeable about people.
-And that... that's big.
Becoming more knowledgeable about people
and what makes them tick.
One of the things that I remembered,
when I was driving away
from your house
last time, was,
I came in with that small stack
of papers.
Remember this part?
And you came in with some papers
that you wanted to get credit for.
-The essays on, uh...
-That was... That was
at the very end of the year.
-The very end of the year.
-I was cleaning up my room. Yes.
-Yeah, you were
cleaning up this room and...
-Yes. Yes.
And I remembered what you said to me.
Um. That it was too little,
too late.
Did I really say that?
Oh, my goodness.
That was terrible, and I
didn't try to mollify it at all.
No, you were mad at me, but...
No I wasn't. I wasn't. No.
Because I...
It was very disheartening
to have to...
It stuck there, but I
didn't remember it consciously
until I was driving.
Oh, I'm really sorry I put it that way.
I really am. I am. I am.
But you know what?
I-I probably also felt that
you have to like, just say,
-"That's it."
-"That's it." Yeah.
You know? It's like,
there are times in life,
when it is too late to do something.
I suppose.
So, we're going to have an essay
on The Candles?
Over just those paragraphs.
Ain't it crazy?
It's gonna be all right.
I promise.
It seems like, every lunch,
there's someone coming at you
for some sort of life advice
or career advice.
Why do they come to you?
I'm old.
And I care about them.
They know that I will listen to them,
let them talk themselves
into understanding
what they want for themselves.
For their lives.
It's... It's part of my job.
I'm a teacher.
And letting them know
that they're cared about.
And that there are things in their lives
that I know that are
a whole lot more important
than anything that I bring to them.
That works very well. Excellent.
I think you're just panicking, okay?
So you should breathe.
I want them to be happy
with who they are.
But I want them
to be smart about the world
so they don't get eaten alive.
Or horribly disappointed.
Why is Moby-Dick so important to that?
"'The ship! A hearse!
The second hearse!'
"cried Ahab from the boat."
"'Its wood
could only be American.'"
They've been chasing Moby for three days
because Ahab's a crazy man.
And they're tired.
-You don't know
how to spell my last name?
-I'm making sure!
I double checked his name.
Wow, Haley.
She's supposed to be
my best friend. What is this?
You see, you survived!
I survived.
-How are you doing?
I'm not saying I don't like it.
I'm just saying that I'm better at math.
"Towards thee I roll,
"thou all-destroying
but unconquering whale,
"to the last I grapple with thee"
"from hell's heart
I stab at thee..."
"A sullen white surf
beat against its deep sides,
"then all collapsed.
"And the great shroud
of the sea rolled on"
"as it rolled 5,000 years ago."
I mean, it's glorious writing.
It really is.
Ishmael survives on Queequeg's coffin.
He is picked up by The Rachel.
So you have that symbolic
"mother of the Jewish people" ship
picking up.
Abraham's discarded son,
so that the family is reunited.
And it always makes me wonder,
is Melville just trying to say that,
maybe all of these great big things,
that we notice happening
are happening
so the little connections
can be made?
I mostly think of Herman and Lizzie as
you and Elizabeth Doss...
...being in bed together.
Well that's...
that's a little weird.
It's a little weird, yeah.
That was a weird scene.
He really wrote himself into this book.
So I don't really feel like he's actually
in the ground.
Even though he sure is.
-Oh, don't you look nice.
I look the same I did before.
-Okay. Well,
I like that look, Mark.
-Hi, nice to see you!
Nice to see you too.
-Hi, Tom.
We finally meet! Yay!
-Hi, I'm Janet!
-Hi, Alex, right?
Alissa. Okay, all right.
Yeah, so this is my wife, Alissa.
This is my mom, Marta.
You've met her before, probably.
No, we tried to meet.
She tried to meet me
through mail and e-mails.
Yeah but I stopped it up until now.
and this is my husband, Tom.
Hi, Tom.
And then,
I decided that I needed
the Norton Critical Edition,
because this has like...
like, loads of stuff in it.
All kinds of stuff.
You've gotta have
the letters to Hawthorne,
that's pretty important.
Yeah, yeah.
You didn't make me feel bad.
I just did.
You know, really shitty for you to like,
-I mean...
-You could try a little harder, Mark.
Across the book,
you get characters looking in the water,
and you are told what they see.
to regret the lives
you could have had..."
That reveals something
about the character.
Sometimes looking
into the water
is a mirror back to them.
"Too little, too late."
Did I really say that?
Oh, I'm really sorry I put it that way.
I really am. I am.
Strikingly, toward the end of the book,
looking in the water,
is seeing Moby Dick rise up
to the surface.
Thereare times in life
when itis too late to do something.
So, Happy Father's Day, everybody!
And future fathers!
We'll throw you
in there, too!
It's fish, because of Moby-Dick.
How appropriate.
So aren't we supposed
to be criticizing the movie?
Yeah, what were the...
What were the themes
of the film?
Too many.
-First it's you...
...your relationship
with your wife,
- and then relationship
with your past.
And more?
Your relationship
to Herman Melville.
That's too many.
-Too many relationships?
I mean, there's more than that.
You know,
there's more the inner city you.
"What if I grew up where I had
to worry about getting killed
when I went to school?"
So there's so many themes.
Like, you know...
But documentaries
are different. It's not a movie.
You said it in the beginning.
"This is the book report
that I never gave."
And that did not feel at all
like a book report.
That felt like um, a search for the self.
You said the right thing to him,
junior year. That was good.
There are times in life,
when it is too late to do something.
And then you have the Stanford professor
saying the same thing I'm saying...
The kids just get pushed along...
It's too late for me.
I was programmed differently,
and you're still trying
to make me learn a way
that some people know how to learn.
But yet I've never fit in that groove,
and you're forcing me back
into that groove
that has scarred me away from that.
You know?
And you're doing now
that to yourself.
You're trying to go back
into your past, like,
"Hey what happened to me
that year in high school
"that I totally blacked out
"and did not participate in something"
"that now I find fascinating?"
I thought the remark
of the young woman
in the teacher's class...
-Yeah. The blonde girl.
-Yeah, the blonde girl,
who said...
Finding, like,
your own free will,
and whatever,
is, like hard, and like confusing?
That life is confusing and, you know,
finding meaning is like
a super-big challenge
and so, the act of reading the book
is almost like the journey through life
-and attempting to find meaning.
-But you don't have...
-You don't need
two hours of that!