fossilfuelopolis

Prospecting the academic grounds on global energies patterns

Moby Dick

Is there any connection between a ferocious white whale and petroleum?

This  film documentary (http://video.pbs.org/video/1485863181/) might explain the historical link.

It describes the context in which Herman Melville imagined the story of the monomaniac captain of the Pequod, story published in 1851 under the title “The whale”. This legendary novel acutely describes the whaling industry of the XIXe, and through its dramatic ending seems to capture and predict the fall of this industry.
Some would also notice that there are 30 crew members, and as there were thirty states in the union at the time, it has been suggested that, in its diversity, Melville meant the Pequod to be a metaphor for America. The fall of America in its desperate quest for a white whale, while the whaling industry collapses; visionary?

Interestingly, it is the discovery of oil in the West of the US that drew a line under the long and rich industry of whaling in the US.

Whale oil was first used as fuel for oil lamps and wax for candles. It was then used for the production of wool and for many other uses including greasing leather and public lightening (before it was replaced by petroleum, city gas, and electricity) . C Giraud wrote it in 1817:

“Lighting the gas is now widespread to such an extent in England, streets, shops, workshops, performances, factories and temples, as it was feared that this invention, reducing the use of whale oil, might undermine the English fisheries. ”

648px-Whaling-dangers_of_the_whale_fishery

 

 

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This entry was posted on January 6, 2013 by .
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