Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Humans versus Machines

Humans use machines to make a task simpler in some aspect. They are generally thought of as two separate entities—the human, which is living, can think, can feel, and the other is the machine, not living, can’t think for itself, unfeeling, and soulless. When these two are put together, however, they can accomplish things that wouldn’t have been possible without it. In Moby Dick, there are a few examples of humans working with machines in order to accomplish something or have new meaning.

We talked about in class how Ahab used his crew as a machine to sail to find Moby Dick. The crew itself only followed Ahab’s orders and didn’t think of a different viewpoint together. It was essentially a static figure that lended itself to Ahab to use for only Ahab's purposes. There were a few other examples that I thought fit this example of humans and machines. Queeueg shaves his face with his harpoon, using an unconventional tool to do a normal thing. To Ishmael, and probably to some others, this would seem barbaric; however, it got the job done, so why should it matter? Another point to bring up is about Moby Dick himself. In the chapter, The Whiteness of the Whale, Ishmael is describing the good—it’s purity—and the bad--of the color white in the whale, in other words, the human and the machine parts that make up Moby Dick. See Shelly’s post for a little more elaboration.

The two working together make a new kind of hybrid—part human and part machine. This hybrid, because of it is part human, is still considered to be human, however there are few exceptions to that. The biggest one I think was in the example of Ahab’s crew hybrid chasing Moby Dick, something that was also hybrid. Which won in the end? Moby Dick. Why? You could say that in the end, it was his humanity, his instincts that saved him. The crew still acted together as a machine in order to capture Moby Dick.