Greg Lennes Melville's short story, "The Lightning-Rod Man" (1854) still has lessons for us today. The lightning-rod salesman says that to buy his lighting rods, you will be safe. He is the salesman of our fears. He peddled his wares during storms with dire descriptions of ruin and death. He threatens and tries to bully the main character, who is angered. The ending is the main character "seized it (lightning-rod); I snapped it; I dashed it; I trod it; and dragging the dark lightning-king out of my door, flung his elbowed, copper sceptre after him. But spite of my treatment, and spite of my dissuasive talk of him to my neighbors, the Lightning-rod man still dwells in the land; still travels in storm-time, and drives a brave trade with the fears of man." Here is a video of a reading of the tale by Stacy Carson. It was produced by Sharad Patel and Lily Cox‐Richard (2015):
Exhibition at UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery in Downtown New Bedford, “Diane Samuels: The Whale and Other Texts” is centered around the 8’ wide by 47’ long artwork Moby-Dick, or The Whale. This mesmerizing large scale piece appears to be floating on the gallery floor and spilling off the wall, reflecting on the ocean nearby, the location for the Melville’s famous novel.
Pittsburgh based Diane Samuels who often uses text as a element in her visual vocabulary this time creates waves with her meticulous hand-transcriptions created using all of the 701 pages in the novel. Remnants of archival paper and drawings have been recycled and painted over and, in places, drawn and collaged using images that pertain to the specific text. Each page of the book (also exhibited at the gallery) is hand-written as a horizontal row of the drawing, starting with “Call me Ishmael” at the top of the artwork.
Samuels chose Moby-Dick, or The Whale because of Melville’s descriptions of confrontations with “the other” and his archiving and cataloguing of information about whales and the world. In Chapter Three, Ishmael and Queequeg share a room and a bed at the Spouter-Inn. Ishmael describes his terror in meeting Queequeg. Despite cultural, racial, and language differences, the chapter ends with Ishmael’s statement, “I turned in, and never slept better in my life.”
Accompanying this installation is the compressed sound of the artist reading out loud and hand-transcribing each page, creating a layered “audio block”; a dense sound comprised of words and pages, along with the ambient sounds of the artist’s studio. The audio block is the length of the longest page of the book.
Other artworks also surprise visitors with their intricate hand-transcription in microscript. The Arabian Nights traces the stories told by Scheherazade over 10,000 fragments of papers painted in shades of indigo and crimson and edged in gold. The piece is a literal and figurative “magic carpet” whose central panel is bathed in the blood of the book’s unfortunate heroines and cloaked in the mysterious glow of night.
Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children,” also visually reflects the content of the book, creating a unique composition made from 1001 pieces of paper made in India and joined to form a map of India on August 15, 1947, its date of independence. The “midnight’s children” of the book’s title are the 1001 children born in the first hour of Indian independence.
The exhibition is open through March 15, 2018, with the reception on Thursday, March 8, 6:00 - 9:00 pm. The artist talk, as well as audio recording will begin at 7:30 pm.
The Whale and Other Text was curated by Viera Levitt, UMass Dartmouth Gallery Director, born in Slovakia, where she had assisted Diane in her 1998 sound based site-specific installation for the Synagogue - Centre for Contemporary Art in Trnava.
Thanks to Kris Nuzzi and the Pavel Zoubok Gallery for their wonderful collaboration on this exhibition.
Diane Samuels is a visual artist, with studio and public art practices based in Pittsburgh. In both she uses other peoples’ words and handwriting as her literal and figurative raw material. She builds works that accrete from community engagements, layer by layer: layers made of words from interviews and informal conversations with people on the street, in cafes, in their homes; layers made of places from castings, drawings, photographs, audio, maps; and layers made from archival documents, narratives of events, histories, memoirs, folk tales, and literature. She has made drawings by writing out the texts of entire novels in micro-handwriting, converted a two-story glass pedestrian bridge into an anthology of phrases about looking at the world closely, and created artist’s books from sessions transcribing storytellers.
Diane's permanent site-specific artworks include Luminous Manuscript (Center for Jewish History New York) and Lines of Sight (Brown University). Luminous Manuscript was awarded an IFRAA/Faith & Form Award for Religious Art and Architecture in 2005 and is included in Judith Dupré’s 2007 (Random House) book, Monuments: America’s History in Art and Memory.
Her exhibitions include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Mattress Factory Museum, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Center for Book Arts, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati, the Municipal Museum of Art (Gyor, Hungary), the Synagogue Center (Trnava, Slovakia), the Bernheimer Realschule (Buttenhausen, Germany), and the Czech Museum of Fine Arts.
Diane's work is in public and private collections including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Bank of New York Mellon, Reed College, Municipal Museum of Art (Gyor, Hungary), the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry.
Samuels holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University, a diploma from the Institute in Arts Administration at Harvard University and has received honorary doctorates from Seton Hill University and Chatham University. She is also co-founder of City of Asylum Pittsburgh, which provides sanctuary to writers in exile. Samuels is a former board member of the Carnegie Museum of Art and the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, and is a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. In 2013 she was recipient of a Rockefeller Bellagio Residency in Italy and an American Academy in Jerusalem Fellowship.
Diane Samuels works with the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York City.
Image: Moby Dick, Or The Whale, Herman Melville, 2015
Ink on handmade paper, 96 x 564 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Pavel Zoubok Gallery. Photo by Thomas Little
University Art Gallery
College of Visual and Performing Arts
UMass Dartmouth, 715 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA 02740
Contact: Viera Levitt, Gallery Director and Exhibition Curator, email@example.com
Gallery Hours: 9 am - 6 pm daily, closed on major holidays.
Open until 9 pm during AHA! Nights (the second Thursday of every month).
Greg Lennes Kimble Bromley, Professor of Art at North Dakota State University, will exhibit his Moby-Dick painting series at the Muscatine Art Center (Iowa) from February 15th through April 12th, 2018.
Greg Lennes From Aeon: Melville and Financial World by Matt Seybold.
"Confidence is the indispensable basis of all sorts of business transactions. Without it, commerce between man and man, as between country and country, would, like a watch, run down and stop."
—from "The Confidence-Man" by Herman Melville
Meredith Farmer We're happy to announce the first CFP for our MLA panels at MLA 2019!
CFP: READING THE CONFIDENCE-MAN TODAY
What types of interpretations come up when someone reads the The Confidence-Man in light of recent events? Presenters should offer short, reflective pieces (8 minutes) that provoke discussion. Although a lack of faith (or confidence) in political institutions is a major part of news reports today, presenters may focus on any of the topics brought up in Melville’s book, including stocks and finance, religious organizations, charity, racial identity, belief, and other considerations. Other approaches could include reflections on reading historically or the dynamics of re-reading today.
Please send 250-word abstracts and brief bios to Rodrigo Lazo at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 13.
Greg Lennes Melvillean Philosophy (Humor): "There are unknown worlds of knowledge in brutes; and whenever you mark a horse, or a dog, with a peculiarly mild, calm, deep-seated eye, be sure he is an Aristotle or a Kant, tranquilly speculating upon the mysteries in man. No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses." Redburn. His First Voyage - Chapter XL. :)
Robert Sandberg MLA Conference - 2019 - Chicago: The Melville Society's "Call for Papers" is now available on the Melville Society website
Eileen Valentino Flaxman When I joined The Melville Society FB page last August, you were just breaking a thousand followers. And now you're about to break 2,000. Congratulations!
Here is my latest contribution from my project to write a poem for every chapter in Moby-Dick. (Lines from the text are in quotations.)
Chapter 59 - Squid. -- Plenty of action and violence takes place in this novel. But there are also days of calm . . . floating on a glassy sea without swells or even the promise of a leviathan and with no chatter from a listless crew . . .
A 'profound hush' surrounds the Pequod
as it drifts in the middle of nowhere,
with 'a stillness almost preternatural
spread over the sea'.
At such a time,
what goes on inside
a sailor's mind?
Thoughts of home?
Other ways to earn a living?
As a man looks out
over endless nothingness,
do thoughts churn busily
inside his skull . . .
or is Ismael an
Meredith Farmer We're happy to announce the second CFP for our MLA panels at MLA 2019!
CFP: MELVILLE'S QUARREL WITH MODERNITY
In anticipation of an energized year in Melville studies (when on the 200th anniversary of his birth we consider Melville’s significance in the present moment) contributors to this panel will reflect on a vital but largely unexplored feature of Melville’s thinking: his quarrel with modernity.
Melville is not recognized for the clarity of his philosophical arguments. At best, his philosophizing is dismissed as ingenious but muddled. But perhaps Melville’s philosophical arguments have been hard to grasp because they have been miscategorized; they have been taken to embody the ethos of the distinctively modern world (that is, after the defining work of Descartes and Locke) when in fact what they offer is nothing less than a wide-ranging rejection of modernity’s dominant assumptions.
On this panel, accordingly, we will use Melville’s writing to turn a harsh light on some of the beliefs that characterize modern Western thought.
Melville’s writing has meant many things to many people, but as yet it has not been seen as a way to unite or bring into conversation the growing number of theorists resisting the modernity narrative—theorists making an effort to knock down the edifice of dualism, think carefully about where the nature-culture binary has come from (and what we might imagine in its place), cast doubt on the view that the body is inessential to mind, and in other ways question the account of the world offered by the moderns.
Please send 300-500 words and a vita to K.L. Evans at email@example.com by March 19.
Chad Beck Moby-Dick is discussed at 39:00. Also relevant (and leading directly into M-D) is a discussion about Job (31:23).
Greg Lennes REMINDER: March 1st deadline for registration for the two-week program called “Teaching Melville” that will take place this summer in New Bedford. The Whaling Museum will host the event which will take place from June 17th through the 30th. Go to website for details.
Robert Sandberg A Call for Book Proposals: From Richard King of the University Press of New England
The University Press of New England and the Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program seek book proposals for our “Seafaring America” series.
We are looking for works in three categories:
1. Suggestions for timely reissues of forgotten, out-of-print American works of literary and cultural distinction, with new introductions that frame the work for a modern audience.
2. Proposals for anthologies and/or selected editions of writers’ work.
3. Proposals for books of original scholarship or of general interest, according to the series mission below.
We have particular interest in underrepresented voices and “blue” environmental studies.
“Seafaring America” is a series of original and classic works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama exploring the history of America’s engagement with our oceans and coastlines. Spanning diverse eras, populations, and geographical settings, the series strives to introduce, revive, and aggregate a wide range of exemplary and/or seminal stories about our American maritime heritage. This includes the accounts of First Peoples, explorers, voluntary and forced immigrants, women in maritime communities, fishermen, whalers, captains, common sailors, members of the navy and coast guard, marine biologists and oceanographers, and the crews of vessels ranging from lifeboats, riverboats, and tugboats to recreational yachts. “Seafaring America” introduces new stories of maritime interest and reprints books that have fallen out of circulation and deserve reappraisal. The series also publishes selections from well-known works that warrant reconsideration because of the lessons they offer about our relationship with our watery planet.
UPNE | Seafaring Americaupne.com
Series Editor: Richard J. King, Williams College-Mystic SeaportSeafaring America is a series of original and classic works of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama exploring the history of America’s engagement with our oceans and coastlines. Spanning diverse eras, perspectives, and geographical s...
Greg Lennes To the wealthy Melvillean: Auction for a first edition of Moby-Dick ending March 7th.