Have you seen the White Whale?
There is an artist going around McMaster campus lately leaving chalk drawings of a White Whale and leaving mysterious notes.
This post has been continued here with MORE WHALES!
Check out the comments below for some great insights, some poems found on campus, and more pictures!
There seems like there could be some underlying message, but what that is I've no idea. The messages all seem to follow a Moby Dick theme, featuring quotes from the author Melville. There are also quite a few messages directly talking about the Health Sciences Hospital building, with one saying it itself is the White Whale great leviathan, and the other a quote from a book about the hospital's development
Is this some sort of movement about the Hospital? Maybe, but I'm not sure what the point is. Most messages either say "Have you seen the White Whale?", "I love the White Whale", or possibly discuss in some way HSC's development.
I would like to make one thing clear; I am not the artist of these drawings. I have just been taking pictures whenever I notice new ones around. I missed a bunch of the first few weeks of drawings before I started taking pictures of them, and probably missed more here in there, but I believe a lot of these are repeated.
Really, I just want to document some of this so that it is not forgotten, and see about getting some conversation going. I tried to discuss it a few weeks ago on reddit, but didn't get much response. Maybe one day somebody will find this and be able to connect some pieces.
Most of them end up being pretty simple; a drawing of a whale and the phrase "Have you seen the White Whale?". The whale appears in almost every drawing... they must have gotten pretty good at drawing it.
A lot of these images are found either between Togo Salmon Hall and the Health Sciences Building. This message here is actually a quote from a book called Healing the Hospital: McMaster Health Science Centre - Its Conception and Evolution (1974), by Eberhard H. Zeidler. So very clearly this must all have something to do about that building.
"A stage in the life of the McMaster Health Sciences Centre was concluded when the building opened in 1972; yet the building is still not completed. because it was designed to never be finished" - Eberhard H. Zeidler "But I now leave my cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower." - Melville, Author of Moby Dick
This could be stretched to be talking about the unfinished state of the Health Sciences Centre.
This quote in particular he's apparently talking about his anxiety of releasing a work he considered unfinished to the world, though also that every artist likely feels this way about their creation.
"If all the buildings on campus where sea creatures, McMaster HOSPITAL would be THE GREAT LEVIATHAN"
Again, directly calling out HSC, and this time they say pretty directly it's their White Whale.
"Save the White Whale!"
It's messages like these that lead me to believe this is not an anti-HSC movement.
The last few pics were all taken on the same day. The artist laid low for a while, but after a week there was randomly a whole mess of drawings all around TSH and the courtyard behind it.
"Some whalemen should go still further in their superstitions, declaring Moby Dick not only ubiquitous, but immortal (for immortality is but ubiquity in time)" - Melville, Moby Dick There were a WHOLE lot of whales drawn here this day. I can't believe this is the work of one person, they must have friends.
"I fall asleep thinking about my failures of the day, and I wake up wthinking about WHALES..." "With a slow, measured step, I walked as though in a trance the grounds are all empty on a Friday night. Just the clouds wading by and the ornamental grasses nodding their heads. When I was young, I used to believe in something. Now all I can hear is sandcastles crumbling in the wind." "Hast thou seen the WHITE WHALE?" "The shrouded phantom of the whitened waters is horrible to him as a real ghost" - Melville, Moby Dick "And this is what ye have shipped for men! To chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood..." - Melville, Moby Dick Willy Dog got a personalized one!
Another I <3 Whale, but this time at HSC.
The Leviathan message again, but at HSC.
"One of the wild suggestings referred to as at last coming to be linked with the White Whale in the minds of the superstitiously inclined, was the unearthly conceit that Moby Dick was ubiquitous that he had actually been encountered in opposite latitudes at one and the same instant of time." - Melville, Moby Dick "To any monomaniac man, the veriest trifles capriciously carry meanings" - Melville, Moby Dick
Perhaps there is no real meaning to any of this at all. Maybe the White Whale has no symbolism, and the connections to HSC are red herrings. I suppose we won't really know for sure unless someone comes out about this.
If anybody has any extra photos, or more information on this, I will gladly add it to this post.
June 24/2016 update
"Best, therefore, withhold any amazement at the strangely gailied whales before us for there is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men." - Melville, Moby Dick
"Would now the wind but had a body, but all things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as objects, not as agents." - Melville, Moby Dick "Were I the wind, I'd blow no more on such a wicked world. I'd crawl somewhere to a cave, and slink there. And yet, 'tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind! Who ever conquered it?" - Melville, Moby Dick "Drawing Whales on pavement that swim down sewers when it rains..."