February 7, 2007

Transcending Space and Time

To begin with, it seems highly improbable that Melville in writing Benito Cereno was not thinking within the framework of the cultural concerns of his time as well as in a timeless region of universal truth.
Sidney Kaplan "Herman Melville and the American National Sin: The Meaning of 'Benito Cereno'"

In reading this section of Kaplan's essay, I immediately thought of a memorable quote from a movie near and dear to my heart, I Heart Huckabees.
Vivian Jaffe: Have you ever transcended space and time?
Albert Markovski: Yes. No. Uh, time, not space... No, I don't know what you're talking about.
Basically, that is what Kaplan is suggesting Melville must have done in order to escape from writing within the "framework of the cultural concerns of his time".

So obviously, Melville, um, didn't.

What I don't get is why knowing that same "framework of the cultural concerns of his time" is so vitally important to understanding "Benito Cereno." I admit it; I did not know much of anything about Melville's culture. (When it comes to it, I don't really even feel like I know that much about the culture that is influencing everything I write - this included.) However, the point is, I got a lot out of "Benito Cereno" when I read it - without any of that back-knowledge. So that makes it necessary how?

Posted by Diana Geleskie at February 7, 2007 10:59 PM | TrackBack

I compliment your chocie of movies, I -heart-huckabees is a great movie, and I too feel your pain in that how is it essential to getting something out of the story, any story.

Posted by: Mitchell Steele at February 8, 2007 4:00 PM
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