Wednesday, December 21, 2011


For some reason I have always been fascinated by tedious things.... although I'm not sure it is the thing itself that interests me or the fact that someone can actually choose to do something tedious. I tend to think it is the latter.

My first foray into tedious things was a try at needlepoint. Granted, I didn't know what I was doing when I started out, but it didn't take long for me to decide that doing needlepoint was like doing penance for all the sins I had committed in my life and doing it in advance for all the ones that I might commit in the future. I hated it. I did one small 5x9 picture, hated every stitch of it, and threw it away when I finished. For many years I avoided any such similar endeavor, until in 1977 or thereabouts the counted cross-stitch craze from North Caroline made it out to California. I took one look at it, said to myself, "I can do that" and started working a 22-to-the-inch counted cross stitch picture. I loved it, and in fact over the years I've done more than I can count.

I don't understand why I liked the one and not the other, but what it showed me is that there is something in me that says tedious things are pleasant and good for my soul!

A second time when I got interested in doing something tedious - and I surely don't understand this one - is that sometime in the 1969-70 period I decided to copy the New Testament by handwriting it into a notebook. With my whole family active in Christian circles it seemed like an unusual, devotional-type thing to do and I found great satisfaction in doing this. The product wasn't what was important, the discipline was. However, that ended when my marriage ended; it seemed that everything I had understood had fallen away and any semblance of discipline was no longer operative. The notebook went into the trash along with my marriage.

Now what does all this have to do with a blog today?

I have had it in my mind to re-read Moby Dick. The first time I saw those words was in my 10th grade English class when Miss Weiherman passed out copies of the book for us to read. I didn't understand one word of it. Through the years I've seen them mostly in cross-word puzzles, and each time they do I think I should re-read the book in my old age; perhaps I would understand it now!

This morning while investigating the entries I've placed on Google-Reader I came up with this:

This looked a whole lot more interesting to me that re-reading the book itself. Whatever it is in me that responds to this kind of discipline really took over, and I went to the book publisher's website to see what it was all about. I was fascinated by what I read.
Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page

Inspired by one of the world’s greatest novels, Ohio artist Matt Kish set out on an epic voyage of his own one day in August 2009. More than one hundred and fifty years following the original publication of Moby-Dick, Kish began illustrating Herman Melville’s classic, creating images based on text selected from every page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition. Completely self-taught, Kish refused to set any boundaries for the artwork and employed a deliberately low-tech approach in response to the increasing popularity of born-digital art and literature. He used found pages torn from old, discarded books, as well as a variety of mediums, including ballpoint pen, marker, paint, crayon, ink, and watercolor. By layering images on top of existing words and images, Kish has crafted a visual masterpiece that echoes the layers of meaning in Melville’s narrative. In retrospect, Kish says he feels as foolhardy as Ishmael, the novel’s narrator, and as obsessed as Captain Ahab in his quest for the great white whale. “I see now that the project was an attempt to fully understand this magnificent novel, to walk through every sun-drenched word, to lift up all the hatches and open all the barrels, to smell, taste, hear, and see every seabird, every shark, every sailor, every harpooner, and every whale,” he says. “It was a hard thing, a very painful thing, but the novel now lives inside me in a away it never could have before.” Kish spent nearly every day for eighteen months toiling away in a small closet he converted into an art studio. In order to share the work with family and friends, he started the blog “One Drawing for Every page of Moby-Dick,” where he posted art and brief description about his process on a daily basis.

So now the issue becomes: shall I trust that I can find this book in my local library? or by interlibrary loan? or WorldCat? Or shall I trust Santa to put it in my stocking? Or should I just go back to my original idea and check a well-worn Moby Dick out of my library?

I'm not even sure what I want to do. At this point in my life I'm not only trying to stay with short term projects but am trying not to start new ones, so any of these selections may be off the table, period. However, I did want to share this wonderful "find" with any of you who like literature, art, discipline, and odd things!

And below is the art work for just one of the 500+ pages.

1 comment:

Olga said...

The term "glutton for punishment" comes readily to mind. i say that with no judgement.