It's Dead, Jim.
The macbook’s hard drive is so toast that I cannot even reinstall the operating system on it. The installer cannot even see it in the system (though I can hear the drive power up and seek). I expect that I can kiss the last month and a half of photos and documents, including articles downloaded from JSTOR for thesis work, goodbye.
I’ve got enough invested in this macbook that I’m going to have to go to the Apple store and have them replace it (or at least the drive). This will either be the second macbook replacement or the second major service issue (depending on if they just replace the drive) in the two months that I’ve had the macbook. I’m beginning to wonder if I should have just kept my little Dell Inspiron that I had back in May. I hadn’t had a hiccup with it and I seem to have monthly issues with the macbook.